New Zealand is the most beautiful place in the world. Great food, great people and amazing scenery that changes on a dime. You can see the rainforest, beaches, glaciers, snow-capped mountains, prairie and more with just a few hours of driving. I’m helping to support #Blog4NZ, an initiative by travel bloggers to help support tourism in New Zealand following the tragic earthquake in Christchurch. I recently went on an adventure around the South Island and here are some of the highlights, places I recommend visiting.
On the trip starting and ending in Christchurch, my sidekick and I drove, hiked, picked up travelers/hitchhikers (very common there), stayed in hostels, heated up instant mac ‘n cheese on a park bench in the rain and just soaked in all the scenery.
Lake Tekapo. Church of the Good Shepherd. The church is right on the shores of the lake. The Southern Alps and snow-capped mountains make for an amazing back-drop. The church was built-in 1935. People from all over the world come here to get married with the romantic setting.
Aokaki/Mount Cook. The highest peak in New Zealand, snow-capped of course. This is where Sir Edmund Hillary, a native, trained, prepping to climb Mount Everest. Hiking from the village where the hostel and hotel are, you reach Kea Point where you can get panoramic shots of several peaks simultaneously.
Queenstown. Known to a lot as the adventure (extreme sports) capital of the world. They’re also famous for there never-ending nightlife. Film crews come from all over the world to shoot scenes with the amazing backdrops around the lake. Music plays in the park along the water, along with lots of arts and crafts and people relaxing on the grass during the day. For wine lovers there are a lot of wineries in the region. Oh yeah, you gotta try a Fergburger, the best and biggest burger in New Zealand. I ate a little more than a third of mine. Don’t forget to get aioli when you get fries anywhere!
Wanaka, about an hour from Queenstown, is the perfect getaway if your into skiing in the winter months and water sports in the summer. It sits right on Lake Wanaka and is a very relaxing, small town. Lake Hawea, just northeast of Wanaka and shown above, is the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen. The blue water, mountain and cliff backdrop, just amazing. It’s a place you could just sit and look at in awe forever.
Fox/Franz Glacier. Fox and Franz Glacier are two small towns on the West Coast home to glaciers of the same name. We did the walk to the 13km long Fox Glacier. It has advanced some recently, after mainly retreating for a long time. Didn’t get the best shot of it due to the heavy rain, but taking the 45-minute round trip walk made me really think I was in Lord of the Rings. It’s one of the easiest glaciers to get to in the world and it ends in a rainforest slightly above sea level which is rare.
West Coast/Greymouth. Greymouth is the biggest town on the West Coast which is extremely remote. Take the drive between Wanaka and here to see rainforest and dozens of water falls along the way. Lot’s of remote, secluded beaches like Okanto beach along the Tasman Sea as well.
Check out the rest of the photos of my trip around the South Island. So many more great places to see and go to in New Zealand. I’ll be back there very soon. Hope to see you there!