Back from the South Island

Our friends Sven, Betti and Christine are visiting us this month. They arrived in Wellington on the 1st of February, spent the weekend (the Sevens weekend!) here with us and then left for the South Island on Monday 4th of February. Not being able to plan as things can come up all the time, we waited until Monday morning to sort out dates and then decided to follow our friends down south. It took us a couple of hours to pack, so we took the 2pm ferry and caught up to the others in Kaikoura that evening.

Next day was quite a long ride as we drove down to Christchurch, had lunch and a look at the container city but didn’t really want to stay for the night. So we continued down to Timaru.
Next destination was Oamaru which is really close to Timaru. Instead of taking the coastal road, we took the inland one passing Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. With brilliant sunshine it was definitely worth the detour. Flo and I shortly jumped into Lake Pukaki to cool down. When we arrived in Oamaru, shops had closed down already. Grabbing some takeaway, we went to the beach to watch the yellow-eyed pengiuns come ashore at dusk. They are quite cool. πŸ™‚
Since Oamaru has a lot to offer, we spent the next morning there as well. It’s big on Victorian and Steampunk stuff which is awesome to look at. And to wear. All five of us dressed up in Victorian costumes and got our picture taken which was fun. Further down to Dunedin via the Moeraki Boulders.
Dunedin was Flo’s and mine last day with our friends. I really like the city and there is a lot you can do. We decided to walk around for a bit, Flo and I spent an hour in the Early Settler’s Museum (very cool!) and then hopped on the train through the Taieri Gorge. Again, in brilliant sunshine it was well worth it. In the evening we had a BBQ.
Next day, we said good-bye to our friends and blasted up the east coast almost to Christchurch. I had imagined it being worse than it actually was. We took Arthur’s Pass to the West Coast before reaching Christchurch though. Castle Hill is awesome and the whole pass is really pretty. We stayed on a DOC campsite in the Craigieburn Forest Park, very picturesque, next to a small stream. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much sleep as some idiots showed up and decided to party until 3am. O.o No reception also mean no call to noise controll.
On Saturday we continued along Arthur’s Pass to Greymouth where we had lunch. Touching the West Coast, we again drove inland in direction of the east coast. I was really tired and needed breaks and an early night so we stayed in a lodge at Lake Rotoiti which we shared with an American bloke. Had a nice chatty evening with home-cooked food from Flo.
Our last holiday dawned. Flo let me decide what we should do and I voted for a beach day (it’s been scorchingly hot for the last 6 days). Kaiteriteri seems like a good choice. We drove there and….although it’s pretty as hell…it was cloudy and not really swimming weather. πŸ™ Continued to Nelson to book the ferry. Originally, we wanted to cross the Strait at 5pm or 8pm. The only ferry at 6.30pm was completely booked so we had to take the 10.30pm one which arrives in Wellington at 1.30am. O.o Also, it meant we had a whole day to spend in Nelson. Flo found this awesome place though. In Nelson there is a heritage park, quite similar in concept to the Hessenpark. It has a cafe with organic food and it’s own brewery as well as a railway, a plane and lots of houses. We had yummy food and spent 3-4 hours there until the park closed at 4.30pm. Flo was uberhappy about all the signs he could read and all the information available. On the whole, the park is very recommandable.
Since the sun burned down in Nelson, we decided to try the beach again. And you know what…it was lovely. We stopped at Cable Bay for a swim where we shared the whole beach with 5 other people. The water was clear, not too cold and it was quite shallow so you could stand for ages. Perfect. We even saw a seastar in the water. Taking Queen Charlotte Drive to Picton, we had a look at the sound and one of the most motorcycle-friendly roads we encountered on the South Island. Watched the sun set over the sound and Picton, had a late coffee and then took the ferry.

Flo will probably upload our GPS route at some point and pictures will also follow. Though I have to say I heavily rely on Betti’s and Christine’s pictures for the first part of the trip. I think I’ll need a new camera in the near future.