Mountains and sheep – Exploring New Zealands South Part I
It was about time that I tackled the “Backpacking” part of my blogs header, don’t you think?
And what better way to do that than to share with you this years biggest adventure:
Our trip to New Zealand!
Our first sheep, met in Christchurch.
Expect lots of pictures and a sudden urge of Wanderlust!
Beautiful landscapes wherever you look
Before the big earthquakes in 2010/2011, Christchurch was known as the “most British town of New Zealand”. After the destruction of the historical city centre, it now is a city under construction.
Bars and Cafés change places, moving out of buildings liable of collapsing, making it impossible to rely on your trusted “Lonely Planet” and thus adding a very welcome sense of exploring to your stay.
The spirit you experience there reminds me a lot of the feeling I had when visiting Berlin shortly after it became capitol of the reunited Germany: A spirit of make-do, of improvising and excitement for the future, as well as the refusal to give up and just move away.
Construction going on everywhere
My favorite place had to be the Re:Start Mall. All the shops and cafés are housed in big containers, adding to the spirit of optimism.
And while activities like pole boat trips on the Avon or relaxing in the beautiful Botanic gardens still are must-dos, make sure to check out www.gapfiller.org.nz to keep up with the ever changing art projects housed at demolition sites.
Hydrangeas in the Botanical Garden
2. Banks Peninsula
We left Christchurch going Northwest for some beach time. Akaroa, one of many small villages located at the beautiful Banks Peninsula, is home to the French community. It was there where the first French Settlers landed, mere weeks after New Zealand had been claimed by the British.
What a difference a day makes…
Apart from delicious, french inspired food and beautiful beaches The Peninsula is great spot to watch marine wildlife. Hector dolphins, a small and rare species, are living here exclusively.
Breakfast view from our campground close to Akaroa
Driving south, we headed straight for Oamaru to check out the Steampunk Headquarters located there.
You may or may not know by now, but I am a big nerd and gaming girl, so skipping that wasn’t an option.
Throughout the whole victorian city centre you can find different installments, themed cafés and shops inviting you to dive in to this slightly dystopian version of our history. Or future?
And even if you aren’t as into these things as I am, a visit to the Headquarters is highly recommended. You won’t find many of these places around the world.
Everything is “On Steam”
The Infinity Chamber, a mind-blowing experience
4. The Caitlins/Southern Fjordlands
Landscape took over as we drove further south. We skipped Dunedin, compared to Edinburgh by many, and headed into the wilderness via Invercargill.
If you are into hiking, this is the place to be.
Jagged coastline, an abundance of wildlife and primeval forest at its finest, all served with the view of the Southern Alpes rising at the horizon… What more could you ask for?
Of course, nature being nature, it rained seven days straight, but that didn’t keep us from exploring. There are many day-trip appropriate hikes that are easily done with a child, but honestly I can’t wait to go back there once Little Bean is old enough and go for the long hikes!
Fungus and moss on a tree
Lots of ferns
5. Milford/Doubtful Sounds
When in the Southern Fjordlands, visiting one of the Sounds is a must-do. The Sounds are big fjords, offering overwhelming views, but they are also really touristy.
We visited Milford Sound, which is accessible by car (To visit Doubtful Sound you have to either book an overnight boat trip, highly recommended and very romantic, or go by helicopter).
If you go there, make sure you leave early to avoid the heaps of (other) tourists going there by bus, crowding the place between 11 am to 1 pm. That gives you plenty of time to go on short walks when returning, exploring a forest looking like the Fangorn from Lord of the Rings.
The drive up there has some breathtaking views
Sadly, there were no Ents to be seen during our stay there.
Looking out into the sound
Reminds me a lot of Norway
To make sure this post isn’t getting too long and boring, I´ll leave it here and will bring you part II in May, so stay tuned!
Have you ever visited New Zealand?
What was your last big adventure?