Ok, for all of you who follow our adventures throughout, you’ll notice that we are now in Oz and have actually left beautiful New Zealand.
This post is dedicated to our trip down from Nelson on the South Island to the West Coast and eventually Queenstown.
For the first stretch of our trip, we left early morning to reach Hokitika by the end of the day and so we did. What a gorgeous drive.
We made our way down to Westport along the coast towards Greymouth as recommended by locals. The experience of following the rugged and sparsely populated coastline was breathtaking.
We stopped at the Pancake Rocks just past Punakaiki and it was a definite not to be missed experience. Although we were completely rained out and drenched by the end of the walk, we were so taken by this natural wonder that was created over the last 30 million years. The blowholes were absolutely mesmerizing.
I’ll let a couple of pictures speak for themselves.
The coffee and gift shop across from the walk entrance was pretty cool too and the food really good.
From there, we made it to Hokitika in an hour.
Hokitika is such a cute little town, surrounded by beautiful beaches and close to the Hokitika Gorge. We made it there after torrential downpours that flooded the entire town. With that, the usual bright turquoise color of the Gorge changed to a cement grey. Having said that, it was still well worth the trip and the walk about.
We spend a couple of days longer there than expected, as Aviana fell out of a tree house and sprained her ankle pretty badly.
We stayed in such a gorgeous Airbnb there, that we actually enjoyed the little break in our travels. It came with tons of cool outside toys, sheep, a very friendly piggy and some chicken that provided fresh eggs in the morning.
The National Kiwi Centre directly located in Hokitika is worth a visit to feed some eels and see Kiwi’s up super close.
Our next stop was in Glacier Country. Between the smaller Fox Glacier and the larger Franz Josef Glacier we thought, we definitely can’t go wrong with Franz Josef.
With Aviana still not able to walk much or only carried by us which made for a solid 24kg workout, we only went for a short walk, which was just right and plenty for a relatively warm day. With different circumstances, we would have surely made our way up right to glaciers edge, which is a 90 min hike.
On the next day we decided after all, to check out Fox Glacier.
Although smaller, it didn’t lack one bit in awe. Watching bricks of ice make their way down the Fox River was just magical.
For the avid adventurer, ice hiking adventures or a sightseeing flight can be arranged right from the terminal face.
New Zealand really is so stunning wherever you go, it really isn’t hard to have a beautiful nature filled day.
Next stop: Lake Wanaka!
For a good chunk of it, my family was sleeping soundly in the car, as I navigated my way through the otherworldly region of the so called southern alps. Wow, just wow!
Magical, mystical and right out of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
We stopped a couple of times for photo ops with a gorgeous and easy accessible stop in Haast at Thunder Creek Falls.
Again, right out of a fairy tale, a 95m waterfall left us speechless.
At Lake Wanaka, we decided to stay ten days, which was a good amount to explore the lake area and some cool spots for the kids.
Puzzling World was a lot of fun for all of us and as they call it, a wonderful world of weirdness.
A cool stop at the lake is #thatwanakatree which has grown so much in popularity on social media, that it’s copious amount of visitors are posing a serious threat to the beautiful and lone standing willow.
As you can see, I too couldn’t resist to take a picture of this beauty, but kept my distance to not disrupt the root system or even attempt to sit on the tree. With so many snap happy tourists around #thatwanakatree, it is now breaking under their pressure.
A worth while stop is the old Cardrona Hotel, which sits right past Lake Wanaka.
It is one the most photographed and iconic buildings in NZ. The charming and supposedly haunted hotel has a charming beer garden and perfect place to chill, with ample space for the kiddos to run wild and free.
For the drive to Queenstown, we chose the Crown Range route, which is by far the more memorable option to the No.6. It is the highest road in NZ, which makes for epic views toward Arrowtown, the Remarkables and a first glance of Lake Wakatipu.
Onto Queenstown and our final chapter of our memorable kiwi adventures.
Yes, it is touristy and busy, but all in all one epic gateway to so much that makes the South Island as spectacular as it is.
We stayed in the Lower Shotover area, which was just far enough away from party town and close enough to go and explore conveniently.
One of our first things on the list was Skyline Luge. It was so much fun, that we did a total of 7 runs.
The view over Lake Wakatipu was something else. Just for that, it was worth the trip up.
Queenstown itself offers everything you need for good times. Even with our combined dietary restrictions, we were able to find good places for food and treats.
Wild Rice Thai: yummy thai food with views over the lake and town.
Hikari Sushi has brown rice sushi options, which worked out great for our littlest one.
Rehab was my fave, since I am a lover of vegan bowls that are organic and deliciously healthy.
Yonder: an all around hit with yummy lunch and dessert option that are either veg or vegan based.
Onto more adventuring now:
We rented a boat with Queenstown Watersport World which I would definitely recommend for exploring massive Lake Wakatipu and the many hidden spots along the road to Glenorchy.
Arrowtown is another must do. A quirky and fun little gold rush town, which still emits so much Charme. We took the kids to the library to pick up pans for some gold panning in the Arrow River and another time to wade through the cold stream and cool off from a scorching hot day.
You’ll recognize this slice of heaven from the LOTR trilogy where Arwen summons the waterhorses to fight off the ringwraiths:”If you want him, come and claim him!”
I have to admit, it’s pretty cool to stand in just that spot and review that scene so vividly.
Arrowtown boasts of some the finest dining places we could find.
The Fork and Tap was a sure hit with our kids. Not only did they have deliciously elevated pub food, but a cool playground/treehouse/ kitchen connected to the shady beer garden.
I saved the best for last: Glenorchy and Milford Sound
Let’s start with Glenorchy.
The drive to Glenorchy is one of the most beautiful in the world. The ever changing landscape is both surreal and otherworldly beautiful. It takes about an hour to drive from Queenstown and we could have probably spend an easy 3 hours with the many stops and photo ops that were there.
We were struggling with the decision on which jet boat tour to book, when we came across the perfect combo out of Glenorchy.
The Dart River Jet tour offered a tour with an 75 min ride in the thrilling jet boat and a middle earth forest walk.
It was epic. The adrenaline rush from the jet boat ride right into Mount Aspiring National Park and along some of the finest mountain panarama NZ has to offer was such a humbling journey to experience. Witnessing such an untouched piece of our planet and to be able to share that with my family was so memorable.
Paradise was the drop off and pick up location for our jet boat ride and is also the spot where many movies and music videos were filmed including LOTR Isengard, Narnia, XMan Wolverine, Mission Impossible 6, Taylor Swift’s Out of the Woods and many more.
Okay, I could seriously write about this place for another day or two, but I do want to talk about Fjordland too.
There are many option when it comes to booking a Milford Sound tour.
Coach, Cruise, Fly ; Coach, Cruise, Coach or what we chose Fly Cruise Fly.
A 4.5 hour trek by car or bus to Fjordland one way and then cruising while still having to drive all that back sounded like something we might regret doing with two kids in tow.
And we are so glad, we took this option. Not only did we save so much time, we got to experience all that beauty from up top. It was priceless.
Once there, our pilot accompanied us to the cruise terminal, where Juicy Cruises took us on a two hour adventure around Milford Sound.
Home to many waterfalls that reach upto 1000 Meters in height, this place was completely overwhelming for the senses.
Formed during the last ice age and a World Heritage site, it was described as the 8th wonder of the world.
It is home to three species of dolphins, penguins, fur seals and many bird species.
Our pilot of True South Air was really knowledgeable and experienced. For our flight home, he chose a different route which took us over Te Ana Waterfall and Mount Humboldt.
It was a day full of treasures and awe inspiring moments.
That brings me to the end of our journey through Aotearoa!
Hope you enjoyed the ride with us.
Namaste loves 🙏🏼
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