New Zealand (South Island)

We've decided to split our blogs on New Zealand into to 2 parts, South and North Island, so here is the South one... enjoy

It has been a while since we last blogged, simply because we've been having too much fun and catching up with friends - which is an awesome reason to have a break. As opposed to South America, New Zealand is one of the places on our tour round the world that has been our list for years. Me personally, have dreamed of visiting New Zealand since watching the All Blacks as a young boy performing the 'haka' in the 1995 World Cup. Since this, my curiosity has been stoked by growing up on Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit and hearing more and more fascinating stories from the countless people that have visited. We began our journey to the South Island from Nelson, flying in from Auckland (£30 each with Jetstar), meeting up with our incredible friends Paul and Anna - welcomed with bottles of beer and quick drive to the beaches around Nelson. We spent the first night in Nelson, catching up over a drink (or two;)). Our plan for the 2 weeks in the South Island was to start in Abel Tasman National park, move on to the Heaphy trek and then make our way down the West Coast, cutting across Lewis Pass and then visit Hanmer springs - giving us some choices for our trip back to Picton (for our ferry crossing) and then the north island - this however would be made for us, but I'll come onto that later.

The view from Kaiterteri

Abel Tasman National Park is a beautiful area, filled with golden beaches, vibrant wildlife, clear blue water and lush green forest. We camped along this area, visiting the must see beach in Kaiteriteri, for a swim, picnic and short walk to the cliff overlooking the bay. We had been starved off beaches a bit in South America, so we kind of insisted to Anna and Paul on making up for this - I guess we're beach people. So we stayed at Totaranui, a campsite just set back from the beach, where we had BBQs, beer, sunsets and stargazing. We also made friends with the 'Cheeky Wekas'. An inquisitive indigenous bird, that likes to eat the foam out of walking boots - an act that Sarah's feet would pay the price for later.

Sunrise on Taka beach - just off our campsite

The highlight of our time here has to be the kayaking at Tata Beach, making our round Golden bay, the mussel farms and the unique islands, which are filled with wildlife. Cost us £30 each for 4 hours, well worth it!

This was enough of the beach life for now and we would be soon setting of on the 76km, 4 day Heaphy trek, one of the 10 Great Walks you can take in NZ.

The rainy Heaphy Trek and yes, that is a bag on my head

The promise of storms on our 4 day trek did not disappoint. We were hit by a 1 in 50 year storm, giving rain for 36 hours solid. To say we were wet would be an understatement!! I don't think we have seen rain like it. It actually halted our progress, meaning we had to bunk down in one of the lodges for an extra night... there was even talk of rationing the food! However the next day 'dried up' and we decided to turn 3 days trekking into 2 days, covering 36km and 24 km on the last 2 days. Sarah could have really have done with that padding the Weka stole!!

Despite this, the trek was amazing! The variety of scenery from forest, to tundra, to sub-tropic jungle and beach front is incredible in a relatively short space of time! We definitely recommend! Check out the Department of Conservation website for more information.

Thankfully Paul and Anna booked an apartment with a hot tub and a bbq for the end, perfect to rest our wet and aching bodies!!

The weather picked up for the rest of our time on the South Island, meaning we could enjoy the Hanmer springs (a natural spring come water park) and a well earned tour of Marlborough wine country in Blenheim, with a tipsy tasting visit to Brancott Estates and Vila Maria's cellar door being the highlight.

Our most memorable moment of the trip however has to go to Claire (Paul's sister) and her poor campervan. We thought it'd be difficult to top the rain soaked Heaphy Trek but our eventful journey across Molesworth Station would soon top it!! 4 unsuspecting Brits would certainly get a taste for NZ.

Only 20mins onto the road and Claire's poor wagon became beached in what only can be described as a gauge out of the road - caused we think by the storm a couple of days ago. It took a monumental amount of effort, sweat, tears and blood to get it out, I might note with no tools. Well done team! Recommendation: Hire a 'Ute' (Utility Vehicle aka Pickup Truck). This meant our choice of either going up through molesworth Station or past Kaikoura was made, Kaikoura it was :)

And that rounds up our 2 weeks in the South. As we have found with most places. It was no where near enough time but certainly an incredible experience and stokes the fire to come again.

As we were travelling in groups it was difficult to track spending for this trip but we estimate for 2 weeks it cost £1,000 for the two of us (around £70 per day).

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