I’m writing this as we’re (Justin is) driving along the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, FINALLY we’re here!
The last weeks were mostly filled with the holidays, family time, cruising around towns and places I’ve written about before (Mount Maunganui, Tauranga and Rotorua mostly), and sadly also dealing with a stomach bug for a bit.
But! We’re back on the road now and boy are we excited to be on the South Island.
Since we have our own little car to cruise around in, we thought it would be best to take the ferry to the south, instead of flying there. So our first trip was from Katikati to Wellington, which is about a 7 hour drive. On the way down we drove across Desert Road, the road that has an amazing view of Mount Tongariro, Mount Ruapehu and most importantly, Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom). The last time we were there it was so foggy we could barely see the side of the road, so we were very happy it was sunny this time.
Our patience was put to the test however, before we even got to the south island (Wellington even), when we got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere without any cell service. I’m glad Justin knows how to deal with stuff like that because if it had been me by myself, I would have died on the side of the road probably.
Because we lost quite a bit of time that day we ended up staying the night in Palmerston North, at Justin’s cousin’s place.
Before we took the ferry to Picton, we explored Wellington for a bit. We didn’t do a whole lot because we want to take our time there when we head back north. But we both definitely enjoyed the overal (creative) vibe of the town, felt very different from what we’ve seen so far in New Zealand. We had a little browse in a comic book store and a record store, and then headed to the Weta Cave.
For all you non-Middle-Earth nerds; the Weta Cave is a minimuseum of the Academy Award winning company that brought The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Adventures of Tintin and The Hobbit to life (and more recently Chappie, Warcraft and The BFG). Walking around the cave for a bit made my little nerd-heart beat a lot faster and of course we stopped to take some selfies with the troll outside. On our way back we want to do the Workshop Tour.
The next morning we hopped on the ferry and drove from Picton to Nelson, where we spent the night. We went for a stroll around town and of course visited the Jens Hansen Jewelry store & workshop. Jens Hansen, known as ‘The Ringmaker‘ created The One Ring for The Lord of the Rings (yes, more LOTR fangirling).
Next we headed to Nelson Lakes National Park, where we hung out at Lake Rotoiti & Lake Rotoroa.
After staying the night right in front of Lake Rotoiti (best view I’ve ever woken up to… so far), we headed off to the Buller Gorge Swingbridge, which is the largest swingbridge of New Zealand. Now, I’m not trying to sound like a spoiled brat here, and the area sure was pretty, but I’ve seen better views in New Zealand. To be honest I wouldn’t recommend spending the $10 to walk over the bridge. After you cross the bridge there’s a 15 min loop bushwalk that brings you back to the bridge. The walk adds absolutely nothing to the experience and felt like a waste of time to us. I just thought I’d mention it in case anyone reading this ever wants to go there.
Luckily we had more planned that day, Cape Foulwind being our next stop. The reason I wanted to go there is because there’s a colony of New Zealand fur seals (or kekeno) situated only a short walk from the carpark. The best thing about it are the little pups wobbling around!
I’m in love with the South Island already, it’s so different from the North Island. We don’t know yet how long we’re going to stay here, but I think we’re alright with hanging out here for a while.