It was tough to leave Dunedin, as with all of the places I’ve become a little too comfortable, but on discovering Karen had arrived with a yellow VW Beetle as our adventure-mobile, I was raring to go!
The start of the journey venturing into Middlemarch brought little but thick fog, until all of a sudden, we emerged into bright blue sky! A huge stroke of luck. (The sort of thing that would happen in middle EARTH some may even say!) After a coffee stop, we pulled up for a stroll along the Otago Rail Road, which is now a popular bike and hike trail. Although Dunedin is hardly a big city, it was so nice to be back out in the country and take in the fresh air!
We continued onwards to Naseby where we enjoyed a (kind of) well deserved ice cream, and my first sample of the kiwi flavour “hokey pokey”, which is obviously delicious! Our drive continued to hunt down a spot Karen had visited back in the day on a school trip – a stunning blue lake in an old quarry! St Bathans was tiny and completely in the middle of nowhere, but it was such a beautiful spot it was well worth the trip, as you can see..
It’s enough to leave you speechless just driving through NZ without even stopping, but we leisurely took a few stops to take in the views (and photos of course) before reaching Wanaka where we would stay for the night. Accommodation isn’t plentiful in Wanaka so hostels are definitely in demand, but we managed to find a cheap private room in Holly’s Backpackers for the night. A pretty basic but clean hostel, and very quiet the night we were there.
We rounded off the day with wine and chips by lake Wanaka watching the sunset. An all around perfect end to the day! A few wines later we were excited to see some bright starry skies… But the clouds decided not to be so kind this time!
After a quick Sunday drive on the lake and breakfast, we continued our journey through Lindis Pass, which is a stunning spot, and perfect for VW beetle pictures!!
Our aim was to head towards Mount Cook, and on route Karen was excited to take me to a large salmon farm, where we watched people feed enormous salmon, and I even quite enjoyed the sashimi!!
The one road into Mount Cook runs alongside Lake Pukaki, undoubtedly one of the most picturesque lakes I’ve ever seen. The glacier water is bright blue, even under cloudy skies, so nice I persuaded Karen to stop again on the way back.
Mount cook is notorious for temperamental weather (which I found again on my second attempt to visit!) and this day was no exception, as we drove into heavy rain and 0 visibility.. so after a visit to the Hermitage Hotel, a perusal of the store, a coffee boost and some poses with sir Edmund Hilary; we cut our losses, and set off back without actually seeing Mount Cook.. (fear not! This part of the story eventually had the happy ending I had hoped for!).
Our next stop was Lake Tekapo, renowned for its beautiful lake and incredibly starry skies, so special it sits in a protected sky area. It turns out not only did we learn the weather can be difficult here, so can finding a bed without a reservation! Defeated by the lack of planning, we were fortunate enough to be close enough to Karen’s hometown Timaru to continue on to home. Almost as a sign, we pulled out of Tekapo facing the most vivid rainbow we had ever seen. And even more special – a double rainbow!! This had to be a good omen for our decision!
Road tripping with a friend is definitely the best way to explore the South island, and I was super lucky to have a kiwi tour guide in Karen – it just shows the travel bug stays with you even in your home country! (Myself and Hex will certainly make sure to do better whilst you are back with us in Europe!) But as I discovered soon after, travelling with someone you’ve just met can be just as fun too. Before this, it was time to enjoy some amazing hospitality and home comforts, and check out what Timaru and the surrounding areas had to offer.
With kindest regards,
Have you taken a road trip around New Zealand’s South Island? Where were your favourite places? We would love to hear!