A windy crossing on the Cook Strait sailed us through the stunning scenery of Marlborough Sounds. A quick stop over in the Tombstone Backpackers Hostel in Picton and we headed off down the West Coast of the South Island.
After a 6 hour drive we arrived in our rainforest retreat in Punakaiki, a small town famous for its pancake shaped rocks. The coast here was incredible, rough seas and great sunsets, with a nice little Speights Ale tavern in the town.
Our next adventure was to take a helicopter and land on the Fox Glacier, spending the morning hiking across the ice and exploring the ice caves and crevasses. One cave got so deep and narrow, it was actually quite scary imagining all that ice above us that could collapse at any minute! Although expensive, definitely an unmissable experience.
On our way to Queenstown we stopped off in Arrowtown, an historic gold mining town full of old buildings and pretty tree-lined streets.
Straight to the cable car in Queenstown for the most incredible views and a further ski lift up to ride the Luge go karts down. Queenstown is great, loads of good food and nightlife. The legendary Fergburger has one restaurant in the world and it’s in Queenstown. We weren’t sure if it was going to live up to the hype but it really did.
Lake Tekapo was our next stop, where we stayed in a cute little potting shed. We explored the beautiful scenery on horseback.
Christchurch was the final place we visited and we were surprised at how badly damaged the city still was from the 2011 earthquake. Pretty much everywhere was a construction site but there was a real sense of regeneration as pop-up shops and cafes were springing up everywhere.
One such place was Pedro’s house of lamb, whose inner city restaurant was destroyed in the earthquake. He’d set up a gourmet food van with the only dish being a takeaway whole lamb shoulder, baked in rosemary and garlic served with scalloped potatoes. Absolutely delicious and could have fed at least 4 people.
Our whistle-stop tour of New Zealand was over but it definitely stuck in our minds as one of the most stunningly beautiful places we’ve ever been. Driving a car there was amazing, you could drive for 2 hours and not see a single car, with incredible scenery around every corner. Land of the the long white cloud, this isn’t the last you’ll see of us.