[ Refer to the previous post for the insights on North Island ]
New Zealand South Island – part 2
Rugged coastlines , natural landscapes , fascinating glacier lakes , treasured National parks, narrow meandering roads added a great aura for our road trip down the South.
The South Island was less populated compared to the north island. It’s economy is predominantly based on tourism. Also agriculture and sheep farming being its most important sources of revenue. Queenstown of South Island has international appreciation for its plethora of activities like bungee jumping, camping, hiking, kayaking, rafting, skydiving, skiing etc. We were amazed by the number of activities Queenstown offers and it sets to give an adrenaline rush to everyone who embraces it.
Day 9 – Drive from Picton to Christchurch :
In my previous post on north island I have mentioned about the Interislander Ferry which connects the North and south islands through sea route. Once we reached Picton after 3hours , we got our prebooked rental car at Picton ferry terminal. We headed towards Christchurch. It was an exhausting day driving around 1000kms. I would include all the do’s and dont’s during the Road trip to New Zealand in my next post.
We were hesitant to expend our time as we had a long expedition awaiting. We drove through the coastal belt. The drive seemed quite intriguing due to its narrow winding roads. On one side you experience the sea and on the other mountains. It was one of the most beautiful experiences but I would recommend a day time drive. We reached Christchurch past midnight after dinner at one of the highway restaurants. We stayed at 136 on Bealey Motel for a night. It was decent enough for a nights stay.
Day 10 – Drive from Christchurch to Wanaka:
Christchurch is a touristy town. But we did not plan to venture out due to lack of time. After a quick breakfast we were bound for our next series of drives. The most memorable drives of our road trip. We passed through Lindis pass which connects Christchurch to Queenstown and it seemed dramatic. If you want to discover New Zealand, renting a car is the best way to do so. Often many even rent a caravan to get around.
Lake Tekapo :
- After a 3hour drive from Christchurch, we spotted a beautiful lake – ‘Lake Telapo’ with its distinctive blue colour. This is one of the glacier lakes. It is also a part of UNESCO dark sky reserve. Millions of stars greet the tourists and locals during nights. We never got a chance to observe the night sky as we headed towards Queenstown. Lake Tekapo is a popular tourist destination.
Lake Pukaki :
After a 40minute drive from lake Tekapo, we came across another yet beautiful large shimmery glacier lake – Lake Pukaki. This lake borders Mount Cook which is the New Zealand’s highest peak. The waters had turquoise hues and it seemed stunning even on a cloudy day. It is also a popular destination for a romantic getaway. If you want to spend a night under the stars gazing at the sky then you need to rent a room in a nearby resort. Lake Pukaki along with Lake Tekapo is under the dark sky reserve of UNESCO.
On our way, we grabbed some sandwich at The wrinkly Rams . It was a cozy cafe in the Omarama area. After a short break we proceeded towards Queenstown.
Gorgeous Queenstown :
After a long yet alluring journey we reached Queenstown. Queenstown is surrounded by undulating hills. This tiny little town also boasts of world class adventure sports. . Various adventures like skiing, sky diving, zip lining, white water rafting , bungee jumping can be experienced here. This impressive town gives picturesque views of lake Wakitipu.
We stayed at Hilton Queenstown Resort and Spa in Kawarau village. This luxury property is located at glorious lake Wakatipu offering panaromic views of the lake and mountains from the room. We just loved everything about this property. I would highly recommend this place for anyone visiting Queenstown.
Budget : Stay costed us NZ$600 / per night / per couple including breakfast.
Day 11 : Exploring Queenstown and minus 5 experience.
After a sumptuous breakfast, we strolled around the town. This tiny town offered great outdoors and we loved every bit of it.
That evening we decided to visit Minus 5 icebar which was a 15min drive from our hotel. It was an unique experience. Before entry, we were given coats which would keep us warm inside the icebar. It was an interesting experience altogether as everything literally was made out of ice. There were carved ice furniture , intricately carved ice decor. With each entry we were served a drink and even the glass was made of ice. After a freezing experience we got back to the hotel and had our dinner at the hotel.
Entry Fee : costs around NZ$30 per person.
Day 12 : A Drive to Wanaka through Cardrona Valley Road.
The next day we set out on a drive from Queenstown to Wanaka. I must say this was one of the iconic drives in New Zealand through the historic Cardrona Valley Road. It was one of the most difficult drives, with hairpin bends everywhere. Also this most scenic alpine route have many activities opened during summers. So one can experience adventure activities along with stunning drives.
Wanaka was an hour drive from the hotel. It is known for its glacier alpine lakes. It is a beautiful resort town. Wanaka lake is the most popular lake which lies in the foothills of Mount Aspiring. Many international films were shot here. I suggest visiting Mount Aspiring National Park which is under UNESCO reserve.
Later that evening we were back from Wanaka and returned our rental car.
Car rentals : We chose Toyota Landcruiser Prado. It costed us NZ$200 per day approximately.
Day 13 – Last day in Queenstown :
One of the most thrilling experiences of our New Zealand trip was shotover jet. It is a world famous water jet experience, for it cruising at high speeds in the canyons. The skillful drives make this into an unforgettable experience. Cliffs on both the sides, waters running in between and the water jet cruising in various unexpected directions gave us an adrenaline rush.
Fee : shotover jet costs NZ$150 per person per ride.
Our last day in Queenstown ended with some recreational activities at the main town beach Watersports Queenstownand some wine shopping. Most of the goods here are imported, so they are quite expensive ( other than local wines). If you are on a budget I would suggest other locations like Christchurch for activities as they are relatively cheaper there.
Day 14 : Back to Auckland from Queenstown.
From Queenstown airport we reached Auckland. The last night we stayed in a hotel close to the airport. But I would not recommend it to anyone.
Day 15 : Back to home country by Cathay Pacific airlines after driving down 2500kms in 15 days on our Summer New Zealand Road trip.
Hope you liked our beautiful journey through the Southern Alps. 😊
Travel-Marvel.com – A Big Little World.