What did we do on the South Island?
A lot of driving! Well, Mark did anyways. Most of it was done on the wrong side of the road (there might have been one incident of accidental right-side driving that raised both of our blood-pressures a few notches – but we’ll try and forget about that one). We rented a 2 person camper van and drove around a good part of the South Island in 12 Days and put on 2275 KM.
Check out the interactive map of our route:
- The drive through Arthur’s Pass – we were lucky enough to get incredible weather for this drive which made for crystal clear skies and impressive mountains jumping out at us from every angle!
- Pancake Rocks and Blowholes – the conditions weren’t in our favour so we didn’t actually see any blowholes – but the site was worthwhile visiting nonetheless!
- Walk/run around Lake Matheson – the picture perfect reflection of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman in Lake Matheson was something to see.
- Sunset over Lake Wanaka
- Milford Sound – definitely the top highlight of our time on the South Island. We did a day trip with a local company from Te Anau which proved to be well worth – gave Mark a break from driving and both of us a chance to fully admire the amazing scenery along the way!
- Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki – the aquamarine colour of the lakes was really impressive which made for a stunning drive up to Aoraki Village.
- And so many more beautiful sights!
It wasn’t all epic LOTR scenery and amazing views
Yes, there were lots of epic Lord of The Rings (LOTR) scenery, including Hobbiton on the North Island, and a ton of amazing views! We definitely watched all 3 LOTR extended movies prior to arriving in New Zealand in preparation. What wasn’t so fun is Mark caught an awful cold shortly into the South Island trip. It might have had something to do about losing daylight and having to run around Lake Matheson, sweating a ton, overheating, taking our jackets off, then freezing again. Yup, that probably did it. Mark managed to survive his man-cold and kept truckin’ along. Luckily we came across a little honey stand on the side of the road and made some lemon honey tea. So he drank a ton of tea and ate an entire bulb of garlic in attempts to squash the cold.
The KIWI’s can’t seem to figure out how to make a toilet flush properly!
They say “If you’ve ever clogged a toilet, you’ve exceeded at least one person’s expectations”. Mark may have exceeded expectations. The Kiwi’s can’t seem to figure out how to make a toilet flush…there was virtually no swirl action. This was also noticeable on the North Island. The more you know! (TMI?)
It was definitely worth it
The cold (both sickness and in temperature), the long drives and the rushed schedule still made for an amazing adventure on the South Island. The pictures speak for themselves! There is so much to see and do in New Zealand; be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to see it all.
Interesting Notes about our time on the South Island:
- Mark went bungee jumping at the highest bungee in New Zealand. Read and see more about Mark’s epic bungee jumping here.
- It doesn’t matter what country you’re from, everyone knows the “Happy Birthday” song. We were on a tour of Milford sound and sang Happy Birthday to one of the tourists in our group, and we all knew the song even though we were from all around the world.
- On more than one occasion Lauren had a shower and used all of the hot water (or all of the water in the fresh water tank). Mark was less than impressed.
- An airhorn siren went off while we were in a little town of Lumsden. We weren’t sure if tornadoes were coming or incoming enemy bombs…turns out it’s how they signal the voluntary emergency response folks (thanks Google!).
- Like the North Island, there are lots of very new, clean public toilets everywhere…and free! This was sorely missed in Africa and most of Europe.
- It was pretty cold when we were there. No one seems to know how to properly heat or insulate their homes, so it’s always cold indoors. Our Airbnb in Christchurch even had an option to rent a heater for our room! We declined and luckily we had a heated blanket. Getting out of the shower was not fun though.