A holiday adventure South Island of New Zealand, a photographers dream.

A holiday filled with fantastic sights and experiences, in the South Island of New Zealand

Holiday in the south of the South Island of New Zealand.

Day one: 

We flew from Hamilton via Wellington to Queenstown.  We collected our Campervan and then found the Motor Camp we were staying in.

The Campervan was lovely vehicle to drive, once you got used to the 7 metre length of the vehicle.

A Maui 4 berth RV

Our Holiday plan was as follows, see map below.  Click on the photo's to enlarge them.

Holiday Map Route, South Island NZ

Day two:

We headed into Queenstown.  We booked a ride on the Kjet jet boat, had lunch on the wharf, went for a ride to the top of the mountain on the Gondola, had a soak at the Onsen Hot Pools, had a great smoked piza for dinner then called it a day. 

Day three:

We headed back into Queenstown to have a ride on the TSS Earnslaw (a vintage Steamship) on Lake Wakatipu.  The boat cruised over to Walter Peak Station on the other side of the lake.  Beautiful day, beautiful views and a fantastic ride.  It was really interesting seeing the steam engine being stoked with coal.

When we arrived back in Queenstown we had a famous Fergburger and chips for tea. Delicious! before we went back to the Campsite.


Day four:

We left Queenstown and headed down to Te Anau.  Upon arriving at Te Anau we arranged to go out onto the lake and to the Glowworm caves which were about a 30 minutes cruise on the catamaran.  A Glowworm is the pupae (maggot) of a Gnat.  The pupae attract insects by the light that it emits and catches them with a sticky filament which it excretes from its mouth.

The next four photo's are not mine as I could not use my flash in the caves.

The filaments the glowworms produce to catch insects.

Day five:

We arranged to go on a guided tour to Milford Sounds.  We decided to go with a local tour operator.  Pick-up was at 7.45am and we returned to Te Anau at 3.45pm. 

The driver gave us a terrific commentary along the way which we enjoyed.  The road passes through the Homer Tunnel about 15 minutes out of Milford. 

When we arrived at Milford Sounds we boarded a boat which cruised out to the mouth of the fiord.  It was raining and there were many waterfalls flowing down the cliffs into the sea.  The scenery again was spectacular.  Unfortunately, Mitre peak was shrouded by clouds. 

Day six:

From Te Anau we drove down through Manapouri, Tuatapere, Riverton to Invercargill.  Beautiful farming country and nice glimpses of the sea.

What's that man doing over there, looking at us?

Late afternoon, there's some pink in the sky. A big mob of sheep.

Day seven:

An early start, we drove from Invercargill to Bluff where we caught the Ferry over to Stewart Island.  The trip across Foveaux Strait took about an hour before we arrived at Halfmoon Bay and Oban, the village on the Island. 

Fortunately, the sea was very calm.  Once settled in the South Sea Hotel we went over to Ulva Island with a lady we met called Angela (027)316 3077 who ran a guiding business called 'Beaks and Feathers'.  Angela was a very experienced guide and showed us around the Island, pointed out lots of birds to us and gave us a really interesting commentary along the way.

We followed a bush track on Ulva.  We headed back, after doing a loop of the Island, to pick up our sea taxi.  Suddenly while walking along the beach we came across a mother Sea Lion.  She was guarding her pup and was very cross that we had disturbed her.  We had to retreat very quickly as she chased us along the beach, quite an experience.

Day eight:

Angela offered us her car so we could tour the Island, we thought this was very generous of her.  There are not many places to go on the Island.  We found the track to the Ackers Point Lighthouse and the historic Ackers Stone House.  That night Angela took us Kiwi hunting along the sides of the airport runway.  We were thrilled to see 5 Kiwi's in their natural environment.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get the light right on my camera, so the Kiwi photo's which I have posted, are not mine.

Day nine:

Another early start, we crossed back over to the South Island to Bluff from Stewart island in the morning.  Again we were lucky, the sea was calm.

We headed off in our van up through the Catlins.  The road follows the coast and is a really enjoyable drive.  We went to Waikawa Point and walked to the Light House and Curio Bay and had a look at the petrified logs on the coast.  Then we walked to the Falls at Purakaunui then on to Kaka Point.  After finding the Kaka Motor Camp we drove to Nugget Point and walked along to the Light House.  Beautiful views of the coast, north and south and an easy walk along the track.

Day ten:

We set off early this day because we had a long way to drive. Leaving the Catlins behind us we went thru' Balclutha to Dunedin.  We went straight to the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Heads which is at the mouth of the harbour.  What a wonderful experience to view Albatross Mum's and Dad's feeding and looking after their young.  The weather was very cold and windy, perfect for Albatross's to land on the headland and perfect for their chicks to extend their wings and practice the technique of learning to fly.  Beth and I felt very humble watching these beautiful birds from the observation point.  We enjoyed the experience very much.  We could not get up close to the birds.  The photo's of the Albatross's that I have included were, taken from the display at the Albatross Centre building.

From there we headed up the coast again to Pukeuri via Moeraki and Oamaru.  We had a beautiful lunch at Fleurs Place in Moeraki but did not see the boulders on the beach because the weather was bad and the tide was in.

From Pukeuri we headed inland thru' the Mckenzie Country via Kurow to Omarama, where we found the local motor camp.  The road passed Lake Aviemore and Lake Benmore and was a very enjoyable drive.

Day eleven:

Another early start, we decided to travel up to Mt Cook this day.  On the way about 15 minutes out of Omarama we diverted off the main road to see the Clay Cliffs.  We had never heard of them so were keen to have a look.

The Clay Cliffs are a geological wonder; ‘badland’ sharp pinnacles and ridges separated by steep and narrow ravines.

The Cliffs were created out of layers of silt and gravel deposited by ancient glaciers around 4 million years ago. These layers were compressed, then uplifted by geological activity in the area, then as the high points began to be eroded pinnacles were left behind.

The cliffs are on private land and there is an honesty box at the gate where we were asked to pay $5 per car.

What a spectacular sight the were, the views back over the Ahuriri River Valley were also amazing.

We found the main road again and continued along to Mt Cook.  The road follows along the banks of Lake  Pukaki.  Unfortunately, the cloud was very low so we could not see the mountain.  After having some lunch we found the road to the Tasman Glacier Lookout.  We climber a steep track up to the Glacier lookout point.  From here we could see the face of the glacier and the lake in front of it, surrounded by the mountains.  The cloud was low but the views were still very beautiful.

We continued our journey to the village at Lake Tekapo where we stayed the night.

Day twelve:

After a slow start, we headed this day to Christchurch via Geraldine and Ashburton.  Travelling through the plains of the last of the Mckenzie Country was very enjoyable.  The size of the irrigations systems impressed me.   We had lunch at the bakery in Fairlie and I had one of their Salmon and Bacon pies, which was really really yummy.  We went as far as Rakaia where we stopped for the day at the local Motor Camp.

Day thirteen:

Today we set off for Akaroa our final destination of the trip.  When we arrived we had lunch at a local restaurant and then headed to 'The Giants House' which is at 70 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa.  What a wonderful experience to see the art form that Josie Martin has developed on this property.  For the last 22 years Josie, who is a sculptor, has created this wonderland of giant figures and shapes using ceramic tiles.  I have never seen anything like it in my life before, what a creative talented artist she is.

The village and surrounding area has a strong French history and is certainly a very appealing and beautiful place.  The views out to sea are beautiful.  That night we went to a restaurant called 'Ma Maison' at 2 Rue Jolie and had a quality meal which we enjoyed.

Day fourteen: 

The last day of our holiday.  We decided to do an Akaroa Harbour Cruise 0n the Black Cat Cruise boat.  The boat cruised all around the harbour and then headed out to the heads.  Along the way we saw sea lions lazing on the rocks and the amazing rock formations that have evolved over time, along the shore.  I didn't realise that Akaroa Harbour is actually a volcano.

It was a great thrill to see the Hector Dolphins at the mouth of the harbour.  The captain of the boat described how when they see the boat, they swim towards the boat and play in the wake and around the boat.  What a great privilege to see these beautiful animals in their wild state.  It is such a shame that they are a threatened species, we must do all we can to protect them for our future generations to enjoy.

I tried to take some photo's but was just not quick enough to record the wonderful glimpses we had of these animals.  The photos below are not mine but are indicative of what we saw.

That night we went back to the 'Ma Maison' restaurant because we enjoyed the previous nights' dinner so much.

Day fifteen:

We drove back over the hill to Christchurch, dropped our camper back at the Maui Base at the Airport and flew back home to Hamilton via Wellington.

Our adventure was over.  There were many highlights along the way.  We enjoyed ourselves very much and would recommend our journey to anyone who might be interested in doing something similar.  

I believe we are privileged people living in New Zealand and feel very lucky that we had the opportunity to do this trip and to support New Zealand tourism in doing so.

Our Maui Campervan covered 1760km without fault, for the two weeks that we had it.

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