South Island - New Zealand

Eager to explore as much of New Zealand as possible we loaded up our Ohana Emina (the minivan) and headed for the south island. We drove through miles and miles of fertile farmland, glacier cut valleys and beautiful peaks. We circumnavigated it counter clockwise and hit as many attractions as we could.


Bluebridge ferry

First and foremost in order to reach the South Island one must take a flight or a ferry. A quick three hour jaunt across Cook Straight on the Bluebridge ferry was just the ticket for us. It winds down through the lovely Queen Charlotte Straight right into the tiny town of Picton. Not far away is the Able Tasman park great for hikes or tramping as they say.

West Coast

We worked our way down the west coast and visitng many small and interesting towns such as Westport. The following week they were severely flooded in a strong weather system. In Hokitika you can even try your hand at carving greenstone or jade. Darn if we didn't just miss the Wildfoods Festival and miss the chance to eat "Fear Factor" foods.

We took the chance to stretch our legs and walk across NZ's longest swing bridge over the Buller Gorge. Above your head people ride the flying fox zip line and below your feet you can experience the high speed jet boat ride. On the other side are more lovely short walks including the fault line from the epicenter of the 1929 White Creek Earthquake.

Swing bridge over Buller Gorge

Fox & Franz Joseph Glaciers

We can officially say now that we have seen glaciers on both northern and southern hemispheres. They are all impressive. This is the only latitude in this hemisphere where glaciers have advanced to the ocean. A nice hike from the road and you can get an up close and personal view of the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers. Informative displays there show you just how much they have grown and receeded over the years. Always advancing they move at the remarkable pace of 1.5 meters per day!


One of our most playful stops was in the charming town of Wanaka. The boys enjoyed a day of indoor rock climbing at the Base Camp Gym. In the evening we caught a movie at the Cinema Paradiso Theater. King Kong greets you as he climbs out the roof or you can truly feel like you are at the drive-in with a classic Morris Minor car for seating inside. Puzzle World was great fun trying to navigate ourselves through the life sized maze and rooms full of puzzles to play with.

Wanaka nestled between lakes and mountain ranges boasts over 160 glaciers in Mt. Aspiring National Park. Skiing, sailing, rock climbing - whatever your heart desires can be found in this playground.


Minus 5 Bar

A bar and room completely constructed out of ice, including the glasses. We bundled up and partook of the fine beverages.


A vibrant yet relaxing town set around Lake Wakatipu, the longest lake in NZ.

Queenstown also is home to the "Remarkables", the only other mountain range besides the Rockies that truly run North-South. As we entered town the temperatures dropped and the snow came down into the foothills. Absolutely beautiful but my was it chilly.

They enjoyed their own gold rush here in the late 1800's and the Shotover River became the second highest gold bearing river in history. They hold the record of a single day yield of 57.6 kg of gold.

Once settled in town we toured the Kiwi bird sanctuary and finally got to feast our eyes on these elusive and noctunal creatures. A fascinating flightless bird they are the closest thing to a native mammal with marrow filled bones. We also had the chance to see a Tuatara lizard up close and personal. He is special for many reasons, some of the most amazing are that he is born with a third eye on the top of his head and he has been walking the earth since the days of the dinosaurs.

On the way out of town we stopped to watch the Kingston Flyers Steam train commisioned back in the gold rush days and the infamous A.J. Hackett Bungee Jump. Despite the dreary weather that accompanied the day, many a soul could be seen hurling themselves off the bridge for the thrill of their life.

The journey out through Te Anau leading to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound is set in gorgeous canyons cut out by glaciers from previous times. Waterfalls to numerous to count fall like ribbons down the steep walls in the misty arena. Unfortunately, unless you pay to take a boat ride the beauty of the Sound ends with the road and perhaps we will witness the rest of the beauty another day.

The true fun in waiting to get the the sound is the brief stop to get access through the tunnel in the mountain. While waiting there, the ever playful, curious and clever Kea bird entertains you while he tries to pull anything rubber off your car. We had six working their magic on the surf board racks and bags at one given time.

Kea Bird - very clever parrot


Our stop in Dunedin was short and SWEET! Home to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, we made sure to not to miss that. It's no Hershey's or Nestle but sweet is sweet to our happy teeth. Makers of the Cadbury Easter Egg they make 10 for each New Zealander or one per sheep depending how you look at it.

We toured many lovely churches here and attended a beautiful service at the First Church filled with stained glass windows and the sounds of the choir.

After a long drive around the peninsula we came to the Albatross Reserve. With nearly 40 knot winds that day we are sure the birds were enjoying some wonderous gliding. We were able to witness one in the distance before we headed on to our next adventure.


A quick stop in Christchurch gave Bruce the chance to stretch his legs and kite surf a bit. The center of this town is punctuated with an enormous parks and gardens.

The Avon River meanders throughout Christchurch and the Botanical Gardens. From the Antigua Boat Shed you can catch a relaxing ride while the punter moves you along past peaceful shores.

The fun for us started just outside of Christchurch in the Waipara Valley. Our friend Su was working on the Glenmark Farm and we took the chance to lend a hand. We all enjoyed some fresh air and fun helping to herd sheep, mend fences, and tend the vineyards.

Punting on the Avon River

Valley of Milford Sound

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