For those of you who know me, will know it was recently my birthday and I turned the big two-one (twenty-one). As part of my celebrations I ventured to a country well known to myself, New Zealand. However, unlike previous trips to the land of the long white cloud where I spent majority of my time in the North Island, this most recent trip saw me exploring the wonders the South Island had for me.
Now most people wouldn’t consider going on a camper van road trip in the midst of winter, yet here I am reliving my adventure of doing just that.
If you’ve read my previous posts about the planning and preparation of the trip (can be found here and here) you will know that this adventure was in fact of the road trip type. The overall gist of where I was and how I got there is as follows:
↠ Flew from Melbourne to Nelson with a one hour stopover in Christchurch,
↠ Spent 3 days in a little town just outside of Nelson called Upper Moutere,
↠ Road tripped from Upper Moutere to Franz Josef where we spent a night,
↠ Continued to drive to Queenstown which was to be our home for 4 days,
↠ Drove from Queenstown to Christchurch, spent a night here before flying back to Melbourne the following day.
So as you can see, there was A LOT of travelling involved and we did pretty well to do all of the above in only a week – well I think it was a good effort!
During my preparation for this trip I found a lot of activities, mainly based in Queenstown, that I was interested in doing. I had my research all done for them; how much it would cost, where it was, etc. But one thing you quickly learn when it comes to travelling and itineraries, is just because you originally planned to do that doesn’t mean you will necessarily end up doing it. This was this case on this time round.
Although there were a few things missed off of my original to do list, I still managed to do a whole load of other exciting and adrenalin rushing activities.
This is how the whole trip panned out.
17-20.06.2016 ↠ Nelson/Upper Moutere
Our main reason for spending 3 days here and not really doing any travel like activities was because it was my uncle’s 50th birthday and we were there to celebrate that. We arrived on the Friday night before the celebrations were to commence. We were in full party mode, with a massive party on the Saturday evening followed by a Sunday breakfast to tie up the weekend celebrations. So although we didn’t explore the town or see anything Nelson or Upper Moutere had to offer, we got to spend quality time with my family and have a relaxing 2 days before the real adventure began.
20-21.06.2016 ↠ Franz Josef
It was a super duper early wake up call for us on the Monday morning as we needed to hit the road to Queenstown. Considering we had 3 drivers between the 4 of us, we probably could have made it all the way to Queenstown by Monday night, but let’s be honest; 1. we would have missed seeing the glacier at Franz Josef, and 2. that would have meant being stuck in the campervan for a very long time and the drive to Franz Josef felt long enough already. Instead we planned to spend the night in Franz Josef, see the glacier the following morning and then continue on to Queenstown.
Not very many stop overs were taken on our way down to Franz Josef, besides stopping at a little cafe for pies at Berlins Cafe & Bar – New Zealand pies are honestly the best hands down and a must try when ever you’re there – and for petrol refills. With the limited stops it meant we made it in relatively good time to the town of Franz Josef with enough time before sunset to suss out a spot to set up camp for the evening and grab supplies from the supermarket. We stayed here, a super lovely holiday park situated amongst a stunning rainforest (you can read about where I stayed here).
Unfortunately the weather gods were having a bad day and didn’t bless us with any lovely sunshine, so we weren’t lucky enough to explore what Franz Josef had to offer but luckily enough the camp site had a quaint restaurant where we had dinner and drinks before playing a few games of pool which kept us occupied.
Tuesday morning saw us head to the glacier post breakfast. There are different ways of seeing the glacier, if you have no budget and no time restrictions you can opt for a heli-hike which allows you to helicopter up to the glacier and walk around giving you a different view and experience. However, if you’re on a bit of a budget and also have little time to spend in the area, the best option is to do the public walk. It’s free and takes approximately an hour and a half to walk to the glacier viewing point and back. It’s a quaint little walk through rainforest, and along streams and waterfalls but obviously has less of a remarkable view than the helicopter option would – it is still worth it though in my opinion.
The nice thing about opting for the walk too is that, for those who are road tripping, it’s a great way to get out of the car and stretch your legs, especially before being cooped up until you reach your next destination; which for us was Queenstown.
The drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown felt like forever and we didn’t get into Queenstown until after 7pm.
21-25.06.2016 ↠ Queenstown
Our Queenstown adventure was jam packed full of activities and explorations, so I’ve done a separate blog post all about it that you can read here.
25-26.06.2016 ↠ Loburn/Christchurch
If the drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown felt long, I don’t know what I was expecting for the drive from Queenstown to Christchurch. A trip that Google Maps told us was going to take 4 and a half possibly 5 hours turned into a much, much longer one considering we left Queenstown at 8am and didn’t get to our final destination until 6pm!
Despite what felt like a never ending drive, we did make some pit stops at a few lovely places, namely Cromwell for lunch and Lake Tekapo to admire the beautiful lake.
Lucky enough for us, my mum has relatives in Christchurch – well technically we stayed in a little town just outside of Christchurch called Loburn – which meant we didn’t have to find any where to park the camper-van and crash for the night, but the best bit, after spending 8 nights sleeping in a camper-van where the roof was only centimetres above our face lined with water from condensation – Jordan and I stayed in the ‘bunk’ bed of the van hence why there was little space between our face and the roof – we had a perfect nights sleep in a proper bed with an electric blanket; it was heavenly to say the least!
Again, because we arrived quite late we didn’t get a chance to see Christchurch itself, rather we spent our final night in New Zealand having quality time with relatives, which was a pleasant way to end a hectic, fuel packed trip. Our final day saw us venture into town merely to drop off the camper van before heading for the airport and the dreaded goodbyes which followed.
Watch the video here or below: