In contrast to our train ride down the North Island, we drove ourselves all around the South Island. This in in part due to the fact that the South Island is considerably less populous and, thus, has minimal public transit, and also that we wanted to visit a lot of locations all around the island. But Jasmine did a great job of planning the trip so we only had to drive 4 hours max on any given day; other than the 6 hour trip to Queenstown, but that was due to fog, rain, snow, and camper-vans in the preceding conditions.
The first stop was some wineries in the Marlborough region, which is known for it Sauvignon Blanc. They were tasty, but I have to say that if you ever get the chance, get a Pinot Gris from NZ. They are similar and much tastier on the whole. And thus are reserved for internal consumption :).
Our second stop was my desire – the jade beaches on the west coast. Called thus not for the colour, but for the fact that there is a large quantity of jade (pounamu) on the beach that anyone can just go pick up. As I am into the jewelry making and craft in general, I had to go and collect some jade. And now I have a kilo of it in my backpack after lugging it around the world, but I will do something cool with it I swear!
Then we kept on down to Franz Joseph Glacier, and we were super disappointed by the fog which made it impossible for us to see the glacier. But we got to go on a nice bush hike in the mountains, and we got extremely rustic scenery on the coastal drive so we were somewhat compensated. Though I think if you are visiting NZ, you could safely not make the trip to the Western half of the Southern Alps and content your self with the Eastern Mt. Cook region. That being said, we didn’t make it all the way south to the Fjordland, which I am sad about, but winter = rain in that rainforesty area.
We carried on across the mountain till we arrived in Queenstown, capitol of the touristy tourists, and home to surprisingly busy roads. Jasmine and I are convinced that one scenic area per region must be sacrificed to the gods of people who tour but despair of being 10 meters away from a motor vehicle and Queenstown is that area for the South Island. That being said, it is really pretty and if you go there you should certainly go to the Sherwood hotel for dinner. It was one of the better meals I had for the 1.5 years I was in NZ.
Next was Mt. Cook as previously posted, followed by Christchurch which will be posted upon next. But in between the two, we went to Peel Forest which is one of the few remaining old growth forests in New Zealand or, frankly, the world. It is certainly worth the trip from Christchurch; it is close by and on the way to Mt. Cook, especially if you like forests. It is not a large forest, but is is pretty, has some huge Totaroa trees, and some pleasant walks through the aforementioned wood.
Dedicated to the humble sheepdog, who made ranching this rough land possible.
Jade Beach! Probably 1/1000 of the stone on the beach was jade. That is a lot of jade.
At Franz Joseph Glacier there were some insanely blue rivers. We hiked down this one for a while.
We may have gone to Queenstown because Jasmine thought I had to visit a lake with so may skipping stones. She was not wrong.
The tallest of the Peel Forest Totaroa. 1000+ years old. I think the Totaroa and the Pohutakawa battle for my favorite NZ tree.