Friday, February 17, 2017

Trip to Middle Earth (aka New Zealand) - South Island

Continuing on my post on New Zealand, focusing on the South Island this time~  As everyone else who has been to NZ will tell you, South Island is worth more of your time.



Picton is where we spent the night after we arrived in the South Island.  The hostel was one of my favorites the whole trip.  The receptionist gave us a bowl of apple pie each at arrival and told us where to go in Blenheim.

Love the Queen Charlotte Drive despite it being windy.
New Zealand mussels are very famous
If you are driving from Picton to Nelson,
it maybe worthwhile to make a quick stop here at Havelock for some fresh mussels!
Blenheim, the town for Sauvignon Blanc.  Personally, I love it and if my brother end up going, I want him to pick up a few wines for me.  But if you could care less about wine, better fly straight to Christchurch/Queenstown from Auckland.

Wither Hills, love their Sauvignon Blanc,
can buy almost everywhere in the world.

Villa Maria, didn't buy any here as it's available anywhere.

Isabel, stopped there to pick up a bottle for a friend.

Framingham, my absolute favorite among the vineyards I visited that day.

Hans Herzog serves German style wine, quite different

They also make a red

The best part about Hans Herzog though was the vineyard gardens and food.
Nelson - I love Nelson and Abel Tasman, the roads are very windy though.  The owners at the hotel I stayed in Nelson even said "if you could drive from Nelson to Abel Tasman, you could drive anywhere in the world."  Great seafood at Mapua too.


some of the cleanest fresh water on the planet

We also went salmon fishing.
I also confirmed I love cold smoke more than hot smoke.
You can also eat the salmon here sashimi style.
If you want the bones for soup, be sure you let them know.

Great selection of smoked fish.
There is also beer, fish & chips, ice cream, etc.

Good view also!

One of my best meal in New Zealand.
Amazing grilled crayfish

The Nelson weekend market should not be missed!

Promotional photo of the Abel Tasman I found when I was planning my trip.
I would definitely spend more time there if I get to go to NZ again.

Saw this when we make a health stop driving from Nelson to Franz Josef via Punakaiki

Honestly though, I'd much rather have him fly directly to Christchurch from Auckland and do the Alphine Rail instead.  Take the bus from Greymouth to Franz Josef and continue the journey to Queenstown.  If you book early enough, you might even get the NZ$1 fare!  (Two NZ bus companies that I am aware of: Nakedbus and InterCity Bus.)

Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) - if you are driving through then it's worth a stop.  Otherwise, nothing worth a special trip to.



Franz Josef / Fox Glacier is beautiful.  I told him to take the bus to get there.  Don't drive.  Do the glacier walk.  I was with mom last time so we didn't but he should.



The glacier is retreating.
Global warming is real.

Peter's Pond


Wanaka is nice but he is not going for skydiving (praise the Lord) so skip.


Queenstown.  Absolutely love the place.  Great food, beautiful scenery.  No need to drive to get around.  Easy to spend a few days there.








Glenorchy.  Go if you are a great hiker (it's one of the entrance for the Routeburn trail) or a LOTR fan.  Food was good at the little café there.






Tasty soup at Glenorchy Cafe
Arrowtown.  Easy day trip.  Easy drive and/or reachable by bus.  Mom loves the croissant from the bakery there.



Milford Sound / Doubtful Sound.  Pick one.  Join a local tour.  Don't drive.   We went to Doubtful Sound for an overnight experience at the Fiordlands.

First, you go on the bus

Then, you take a boat

Afterwards, you take another bus


Finally, here's your boat!

The Fiordland is different from everything I have experienced so far.  It's very quiet at night, almost eerie, but very cool.  Especially the following morning.





Because it rains in the Fiordland all the time,
there were these temporary waterfalls everywhere.

The magic hour before/at sunrise the next morning.
Remember to get up super early to see this.

So mysterious~

We arrived at the "waterfall of youth"

Rumor has it that you will be forever young if you drink the spring water from here.

The following are things I wanted to do but didn't have time last time.  Of course NZ has plenty other places to see still.  One trip is simply not enough.

Lake Tekapo / Church of Good Shepherd / Mt Cook


Alpine rail from Greymouth to Christchurch via the Arthur's Pass




I hope this post will help others who are also considering a trip to New Zealand.  It's a beautiful country but I would be hesitant to drive as much as I did again.

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