I’m back on the North Island and getting ready go back to Canada, via Sydney (remember: no jokes about how the return trip is going to go). I’ll be getting back to blogging about all the regular topics found here: i.e. war, porn and fast food, next week. In the meantime, a quick summary of my travels on the South Island:
Claudette and I were originally planning to drive down the west coast with the Milford Track being our eventual destination, with a return up the east coast. With crappy weather expected in the west, though, we decided to go down east instead. We started with a short stay in Kaikoura, which is known for its marine life. We saw some seal colonies lounging on the rocks outside of town, then went on a whale-watching trip where I saw my first whale (a sperm whale, huh huh huh).
From there, it was south to Christchurch, the biggest city on the south island. Christchurch was really the only place I didn’t get to visit while living in New Zealand, so it was cool to finally see it. Overall, I was quite impressed with the city’s hipness – lots of bars and a pretty solid arts scene. If you’re ever in town, I also recommend staying at the Hotel So; the rooms are tiny, but affordable and very funky. It’s also the only place in the country I’ve found to offer free, limitless wi-fi.
From Christchurch, we boogied on over to Mount Cook, a rather remote little mountain… well, you can’t even call it a town. There’s a hotel, a hostel and a cafe or two. Bad weather threatened and we had a flat tire to contend with, but we still managed to get in a decent hike to see the actual mountain (pictured above).
Onward we went to Queenstown. I think this was my third time there, and each time it’s been frickin’ paradise. Blue skies and sunshine, bars and beers surrounded by awesome mountains and a mirror-calm lake. It’s also a good place to stock up on hiking/camping gear, which I desperately needed after the nasty Tongariro Crossing. I got some new waterproof boots and other gear that proved invaluable on the Milford Track. We also took a crazy jetboat ride on the Shotover River, which got the adrenaline pumping.
After Queenstown, it was the disastrous Milford Track, which has been well documented elsewhere. Again, bad weather kept us away from the west coast on the way back north, so we zipped through Christchurch again on our way to Hanmer Springs, where we soaked in sulphur pools for an hour. From there it was back up to Picton and the ferry to Wellington and the North Island. I’ll post a highs-and-lows list of New Zealand next week. See you then!