Kiwi Country – The South Island

Arrived in Christchurch November 23rd and Departed for Australia November 27th

After a quick flight from Wellington, we landed in Christchurch on the South Island. Our plan was to do a big loop; starting from Christchurch (northeast), heading down to Queenstown (southwest), up the west coast to the Franz-Joseph glacier (northwest) and back across into Christchurch.

The evening we landed, as we started our 5 hour drive to Christchurch, we were lucky to witness some of the coolest looking clouds and sunset.

We were hoping for another Bitsy, but this time around we got stuck in a tiny little shit-box Hyundai with what felt like a lawn mower engine under the hood. The engine would literally just cut out on some of the longer hills. It felt like the sheep were passing us by. It was, however, capable enough get a speeding ticket. F’ing cop parked his ass at the bottom of a hill on the longest straightaway in the entire country and flags us down for 10mph over. We are recording that one as a ‘tourist entry fee’ in our accounting for the trip’s expenses.

Lawn mower engine and speeding ticket aside, driving was a great move and afforded us some amazing views. The entire South Island is one big postcard – everywhere you look is a picture perfect landscape.

You also see tons and tons of sheep! As we resumed our drive into Queenstown the next morning, we got stuck in a bit of a traffic jam 🙂

Queenstown is a very cool city – it feels a lot like a Colorado ski town with lots of restaurants and shopping. The architecture is very clean and modern and there are gatherings of young people and families everywhere.

While Queenstown offers a ski experience in the winter months, the main reason to come this way is all of the adventure activities. The list is endless; bungy jumping, skydiving, jetboat, rafting, kayaking, Xorbing, hiking, off-roading, canyonning, hang gliding, etc, etc, etc.

We will do a seperate post on the adventure activites that we chose to do. Travelers Note: The activities are not cheap. The average cost is $150 US per person. Keep this in mind when you set your budget for a trip to NZ.

After Queenstown, we drove up the west coast of the South Island to the Fraz-Joseph Glacier. There are two glacier sites, Franz-Joseph and Fox. Franz-Joseph is the more well known of the two, but visiting it by foot includes a 3 hour hike. The Fox Glacier, on the other hand, only has a 40 min hike and for this reason we opted to see the Fox Glacier. It was quite interesting to see such a different landscape compared to all of the green rolling hills we were used to.

On the drive back to Christchurch, we were sans reservation for a hotel and figured we would simply stop when we got tired of driving. As luck would have it, we found a great coastal town at about the right distance. The town felt like a deserted gold town or something, but it still had a lively bar-restaurant with great food and a hand blown glass shop with reasonable prices.

We felt like our time in New Zealand flew by so fast and we were sad to leave. It feels like we missed some great stuff by not being able to get to the northern part of the South Island and by not partaking in a couple more days of adventure activities in and around Queenstown.

Surely, there is another trip to New Zealand in our future!!

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