So its been a little while since my last blog post (10 months to be exact!)
A lot has changed since we went to Samoa. We finished up our years visa in the beautiful New Zealand by taking our car and a tent and road tripping the South Island before we headed over to Australia for Christmas. We had glorious weather the whole time, the beginning of the road trip was slightly uncomfortable – balancing a surf board on my head in the car as we were trying desperately to sell it before we left the country. Luckily some kind South American soul saw our advert online and we dropped it to him in Wellington (who knew you could surf in Welly??) I have to say to anyone reading this.. if you are road tripping New Zealand, do make the effort to see New Plymouth! It’s unbelievable just how many people don’t go there as it is somewhat out the way. Even most Kiwi’s who I worked with hadn’t been. Really cool place though, especially if you have a clear day to see the mighty Mount Taranaki!
We crossed the ferry and headed to Abel Tasman National Park. We had been here before on our previous trip to New Zealand but last time we only managed a short hike as the weather wasn’t on our side. We couldn’t of asked for better weather this time and Abel Tasman in the sunshine is dreamy! The Coastal track is a 4-5 day hike… we didn’t manage that one. We got as far as Anchorage and headed back. Still, a 16km stint each way isn’t too shabby. The views on this hike were stunning, such a special part of the world. We also had to go back to the Fat Tui, a burger pop up van that rivals the infamous Ferg Burger in Queenstown. (I still think Fergy is better!) But it was yummy nevertheless.
We then headed through the beautiful wine region of Marlborough, driving past fields of vineyards as far as the eye could see and eventually took the West Coast down to Kaikoura, which is my favourite spot in the South Island. That’s why I am just so devastated by the Earthquake that happened there a few days ago. The destruction it has caused there is heartbreaking and it worries me what this has done to it’s marine life. Kaikoura along with only two other places in the world (Sri Lanka and California) has the largest under water canyon with an abundance of marine life, especially whales. I think seeing photos on the news recently and hearing about there has prompted me to write this post. Kaikoura beach isn’t a beautiful white sand beach with palm trees, it’s in fact the opposite. It is a black pebble beach with huge dramatic mountains looking down on it. The colours are a palette of blues, purples and greys. It is both mystical and magical. I can’t explain into words but all I know is when on that beach looking out into the deep blue, especially knowing how much sea life is out there, you just feel connected. I miss that feeling. I am grateful we got to experience the beauty of Kaikoura and camping out under the stars. This time last year we were out there and if the quake had happened then, we wouldn’t of got the chance.
After Kaikoura we travelled South to Lake Tekapo, here we were most excited to see the stars! So many times on instagram we had seen people taking shots of the milky way above the church of the good shepherd – a popular landmark in this town (also where I wanted to get married). We were adamant we’d stay up until 1am and get that shot too. I say at the beginning we had good weather… everywhere but here. We pulled up to the church at 1am, we weren’t the only nutters there either, there were A LOT of other keen photographers ready to snap. I’m not joking you, that night there wasn’t one star. So disappointing. Anyway, the next night we had booked onto a star gazing tour as not far from there was Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. One of the darkest places in the country to see the stars. Of course, it got cancelled due to cloud and rain! So we stayed an extra night, hoping our luck would change. Somehow it did and the night after we got to do the tour and it was amazing. We learnt so much about the stars and it truly did blow my mind.
Next we headed to Mount Cook National park, another place we had visited before but loved so much we wanted to go back. I don’t know what it is about being around mountains, they’re so majestic and make you feel so small. They somehow put everything into perspective and I just find them calming and mesmerising. We then headed to Wanaka and Queenstown (of course!). We were very lucky in Wanaka as we were desperately trying to sell our car the whole way through our South island road trip, advertising it online everywhere we went. We had no one interested at all and were getting worried about if we couldn’t sell it before our flight as we had relied on the money. Instead of worrying too much though, we spent the days hiking. Roy’s Peak, which can I just say I was told by Tom “it will only take half an hour, then we can go on to the next hike” was insane. We had been walking for an hour and no where near the summit so we asked some fellow trampers who were declining how long it was until the top. They replied “about three hours”. My reply to Tom was “are you sh*ting me?” Anyway, we stuck it out and so glad we did, even though the incline up nearly killed me. The view was beyond magical up there! You really feel like you’re on top of the world looking down on the beautiful surrounding lakes. I always see shots on instagram of a bride and groom up there and think ‘how the hell did you get up there in that?’ but now realise they definitely did not climb, they flew.
Another gorgeous hike we did was Rob Roy’s glacier. I’d never seen anything like it in my life. The only way to describe the end point is being in a giant green bowl surrounded by serene bush and tropical waterfalls sprouting out of cliffs, then looking up and seeing a huge glistening white glazier poking out of no where and blinding you. It was a wonderland! And the echo of rumbling avalanches in the distance made it even more enchanting.
On our last day in Wanaka everything came together for us, it always does thats why I never worry. A wise Indian/Australian man once told me that worrying is a waste of emotion. I agree. We had a phone call from a French backpacker living on a farm nearby, she needed a car to get to work. She was really nice and we were glad to hand over our beloved pride and joy to someone that would look after her. We also managed to sell all our camping gear that same day to a couple of German girls. We then went to the pub to celebrate that our luck was in…
Finally, with heavy hearts we had to depart the land of the long white cloud. It’s never easy leaving somewhere that has been your home for the past year, where so many incredible memories have been made. But I always tell myself I’ll be back one day, New Zealand will always hold a special place in my heart.
It was the 22nd December and fast approaching Christmas, only one thing for it… an Aussie Beach and sunshine!