Arrival in Auckland
We landed in Auckland and headed straight to the home of Chef Makarnd. Which obviously meant that during our time in Auckland we didn’t have to worry about preparing the next meal, locating the supermarkets or queuing up in the hostel kitchens.
From Auckland, we went straight to Wellington.
Back to Couchsurfing in Wellington
A ferry, and we are in South Island
Heading into the wild – The Abel Tasman National Park
From Nelson, we arranged for a tour to take us into the Abel Tasman National Park. Partly by boat, and then a trek, we walked through the national park and saw mind-boggling beaches!
A stay in a regular little town of New Zealand called Motueka followed.
“The best part of New Zealand” – The Golden Bay
Simon was the one who suggested (insisted) we visit Golden Bay – the part of New Zealand almost no one visits! We can never thank him enough for this. We were blown away by our time in the Golden Bay – its bohemian character, absolutely delightful people (including our hosts at the hostel) and of course, the actual Golden Bay.
Oh…and our first time hitchhiking!
The wild west and glacier country
As lovely as our time in the Golden Bay was and as much as we didn’t want to leave, the visa was ticking. We took the route down south on the west coast – ranked in the top 10 drives in the world!
The glacier itself was a little anti-climatic (especially since the memory of Perito Moreno Glacier was still fresh) – a stark reminder of the global warming crisis.
We were waiting to see the fall colours ever since we had seen a glimpse of red leaves at Nelson. And Wanaka didn’t disappoint. The trees were all golden and red, as were the streets. That Wanaka Tree tried hard to steal the spotlight. The Paradiso theatre had the best ever cookies, and Mt Roy gave us a chance to trek after a while, and our hostel – perfect views.
We could’ve easily spent a month in Wanaka!
Milford Sound – the most poular sight in New Zealand
Everyone visits the Milford Sound – any time of the year. The rains make the experience magnanimous. The drive to Milford Sound is a showcase of a series of waterfalls. And on the boat journey, we actually went under these thundering waterfalls!
Up again – through the Arthur’s Pass
This time we crossed over from the Tasman coast to the Pacific coast through the Arthur’s Pass. The pass was covered in clouds but that didn’t make the drive any less spectacular.
Christchurch still showed the impact of the devastating earthquake. Art was used as a tool to bring positivity, which was clearly reflected in the city’s infrastructure.
Lake Tekapo and the clearest sky in the Southern hemisphere
We lived right next to the bright blue waters of Lake Tekapo. The water was stunning, but we will remember Lake Tekapo as the place we got lost on a single route trek up to Mt John! How did we manage to do that, we still don’t know.
Up the Pacific Coast and Kaikoura
This time we drove up the Pacific coast to Kaikoura and got a chance to spend time with hundreds of sea lions at the Oahu stream. Marlborough country further up was full of vineyards, now also turning yellow.
Back on the North Island, up the west coast
Again in the parts of New Zealand not visited by many. End of the first day of driving brings to view the Mt Taranaki, an equivalent of Mt Fuji in the Southern hemisphere! Shrouded by clouds, we still get to see its perfectly conical shape.
Further up from Auckland – Kawiti glow worm caves and toilets at Kawakawa
Since we have skipped the famous Waitomo glow worm caves, we head to the ones at Kawiti, run by a Maori family – descendants of the guy who originally found them! And this is the first time we head to a town to visit the public toilets! One look at the toilets of Kawakawa, and we know why they are an attraction!
Bay of islands and a rough sea
A rough sea greets us at Bay of Islands where we are scheduled for a boat tour. The captain gives us an option to leave with a full refund. We don’t have any days to spare so we decide to stick on. And suddenly, the weather takes a turn – for the better! We go up to the hole in the rock, but the captain doesn’t risk going through it.
The northern tip – Cape Reinga
The next day we head to the northernmost point of Naw Zealand – Cape Reinga. Standing there next to the lighthouse, we stare at infinity. Miles and miles of landless ocean!
Back to Auckland and time to wave goodbye to New Zealand
The six weeks breezed past. New Zealand look so tiny on the map, we had thought six weeks would be ample time. But that was not to be.
It was only alright for a “first visit to New Zealand”!