South Island New Zealand


We got greeted by the most beautiful sunrise on our arrival at the South Island of New Zealand, which made us excited about this trip from the first moment.


The next morning we drove to the Abel Tasman Nationalpark. The white-sand beaches and lush green forests are so beautiful that we decided to hike the Apel Tasman Coastal walk. It is possible to hike the 60 km long "Great Walk "in 3 to 5 days and sleep in huts or bring your tent. The cabins were already fully booked and pretty expensive, so we decided to buy a cheap tent and make it a camping trip. After going through all the shops in the town, we found a 20$ tent in the Warehouse. Luckily we brought our sleeping bags with us. In the afternoon, we packed our backpacks and got ready to start the next morning.

We took the water taxi to the start point of the trek. We saw the famous split apple rock on the way to get there and could even spot some baby seals.



After two hours on the boat, we arrived at a dreamy sand beach, from where we started the hike. The weather was perfect, and under the bright blue sky, we began this adventure.

Additional to the official great walk, we hiked to the top of Gibbs Hill, where we had a stunning view.



Altogether, we hiked 66 km on three days.

The first day we needed to get used to the heavy backpacks, but the fantastic views we had along the ways made an effort worth it. On the second day, the trail led from one beautiful beach to the next. We had to wait until low tide to cross a part that is usually underwater. It was a strange feeling to walk over all the mussels.

This night we camped directly at the beach. It was so beautiful, even with all the blisters a tour feet.


The last day of the Abel Tasman Coastal walk was through a hilly forest back to the parking lot. Tired but happy, we drove to a camping spot and have been glad to sleep in our bed in the van.



The next day we continued our journey towards the south. We hiked to a seal colony and even watched their babies trying to swim, which was super cute.


After that, our next stop was the famous Pancake Rocks. The rocks have a unique structure that reminds of a pile of pancakes and is the reason for their funny name.



We followed the west coast until we reached Franz Josef. We had been looking forward to this town and wanted to hike on the glacier there. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't so good in the last days, and it shouldn't get better in a week or so. The tourist information woman even told us not to go hiking because it is too slippery, and some paths had already been closed due to landslides. The helicopter and glacier tours have got canceled also.



In the evening, the weather forecast for the next day had changed, and it looked mostly dry in the morning, so we decided to wake up early and try to hike as close to the glacier as possible. We woke up at 5 am, and it was dry and clear. We could even see the milky way. But when we left the van 30 mins later after breakfast, it started to rain heavily. So we decided to cancel our hiking plans and drive to Wanaka.



We passed some lovely waterfalls on the road to Wanaka and hiked to the blue pools. The water was so beautiful blue that I had to jump in. Of course, the glacier water was freezing cold ;)



Even from far we could see the remarkable mountains and lakes around Wanaka.


Wanaka greeted us with rain.

Our bad weather program was to visit the toy museum and the puzzling world, which was pretty fun.


The next morning the weather cleared up, and we hiked to Roys Peak. On the way to the top, we watched some bunnies, sheep, and beautiful birds.

One of the most famous New Zealand Instagram Spots is on this trail. It was super fun to watch the people in their fancy outfits trying to hike up there. About 20 minutes before you reach the peak, we hiked past "The Insta-Spot. " There was a long queue of people waiting to take a photo with a spectacular view. We walked past them, and two bends further up, we had the same view, but without other people. Almost everyone else hiked back down after taking the photo so that we could enjoy the last part to the peak alone.



We left Wanaka and drove over the Cardrona pass to Queenstown. On top of the mountain pass,

we found a beautiful spot for the night with the most stunning sunset view.



Generally, we tried to live money-conscious during the trip; we cooked ourselves and did free activities. But in Queenstown, which is also known as Adventure Capital of New Zealand, we wanted to treat ourselves to some adventure activities. On our first day, we did a free fall Flying Fox and the highest Canyonswing in the world.



The next day we jumped out of a plane by a Skydive from 15000 ft high. It was mega cool. Unfortunately, we don't have photos from the jump, because that had been too expensive.



After all the adrenalin kicks in Queenstown, it was time to calm down, and where is a better place to relax than in nature. Although the weather forecast wasn't looking perfect, we decided to hike the Kepler Track in the next three days. Of course, we wanted to camp in our 20$ tent again.

The Park-Ranger told us that it isn't the best idea to camp there, because the weather would be wet, they have a mouse plague, and it would be super windy. But we had already made up our minds and wanted to go.


On the first day, we hiked the shortest part of the track. In the afternoon, we arrived at the camp and chose a lovely spot in the middle of the forest to set up our tent. We spent the evening talking to other hikers and enjoying the stunning view over Lake Te Anau.



After this night, we knew what the ranger meant by mouse plague. There are two main trees in Milford Sound Nationalpark, one of them flowers all four years, the other five years. This spring, both of them had flowers, which meant a lot of food for mice and rats, which led to a significant increase in the population. Now in autumn, there wasn't enough food for all the young mice left, and they started to starve.

We knew that we shouldn't leave anything outside of the tent because of the mice. We didn't have much space left in the little tent and used the backpacks as pillows, so they should be saved from the mice.

All night long, the mice jumped onto our tent and tried to come in. We didn't have a single quiet minute. I heard something gnawing, but Fabian thought it is just in my imagination.

In the morning, we knew what it was that I heard. One of the mice managed to chew her way through our tent, through my backpack (which was under my head), and two plastic bags to my breakfast bread.

We have been glad when the sun rose, and we could come out of the tent and start hiking again.


This day was the longest path. The next camp was on the other side of the mountains, which would take us about 10 hours of hiking. After a couple of hours, it started to rain, and the wind began to get stronger. We passed one oft he huts, and the ranger told us that we had to continue quickly or hike back because the weather forecast had wind up to 130 km/h that afternoon. Of course, we continued to hike, first up to the mountaintop and then along the mountain ridge. It was a little challenge to hike on the ridge while it was raining and super windy. We have been so happy when we finally arrived at the campground to get out of the wet clothes and get some rest.



Luckily there haven't been any mice here, but the Keas (the mountain parrots) also liked to steal our things, and they are smart enough to open up zippers at the tents, so you shouldn't leave anything unattended.

It didn't stop raining in the night, and we used our picnic blanket as a tarn and hoped that we wouldn't lie in a puddle in the morning. Our plan worked out pretty well, and we stayed dry all night.


It was still raining in the morning, so we put on our rain clothes again and started the last part of the track.

The rain stopped after a while, and we could enjoy the lush green forests. And when we finally arrived back at our car, we have been super happy. If the weather is good, this trip would be amazing. The few short glimpses we got between the fog already have been stunning.



We had planned to drive directly to Milford Sound after the hike, spend the night there, and do a tour through the fjord in the morning. But we had been so tired from the hike that we decided to stay here for one more night and make our way to the fjord the next day.

The next morning we heard that the road to Milford Sound was closed due to a massive landslide, and it would take at least a week to remove the rocks and open the road again.

The people who were currently at the fjord had to stay there and wait. There are a restaurant and a campground, so they had enough food. We had been super glad that we changed our plans and didn't get stuck in there.

Although we would have loved to see the fjord, we decided to leave and drive further south. We followed the southern scenic route and visited the beautiful waterfalls McKean Falls and Punakaiki Falls along the way.



We did a stroll along Sulfat Bay to watch sea lions lying in the sun.



And drove to the famous Nugget Point Light House.

Close to Nugget Point is a Penguin watch house. You can see penguins coming out of the ocean to feed their babies in the nests every day between 4 and 8 pm.



We arrived at 4:30 and waited, and waited, and waited.

A lot of people came and left again, but there was no penguin insight. At 8 pm, finally, a single cute little penguin came out of the water! He was so super cute, and we had been happy we waited so long and didn't give up.



Our next stop was Dunedin, where we fed the ducks in the botanical garden and walked up the steepest street in the world.


Then we continued our trip to the Moeraki Boulders.

The huge round rocks at the beach are super unique and are worth visiting if you are ever in South New Zealand.


After that, we said goodbye to the beach for a while and drove inland.

We found a perfect camping spot at the dreamy turquoise Lake Pukaki from where we had a fantastic view over Mount Cook, the highest mountain of New Zealand.



The next morning we drove into Mt. Cook Nationalpark, where we did the Hooker Valley Track. It is one of the well-known paths in the area and pretty touristy, but the landscape is really stunning.


The next was pretty cold in our van. In the morning, everything was frozen, but therefore, the sky was bright and blue, and we had perfect sunshine for our hike up to the Mueller Hut.

The trail starts with over 2000 stairs steep up to the mountains and then climbs up over rocks. It is exhausting, but the effort gets rewarded with a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. We just sat there and listened and watched the cracking ice. So beautiful.



The next morning we arrived at Lake Tekapo, where I hoped to see the famous lupin fields, but we came a few weeks too late, and the flowers didn't bloom anymore.

So we drove further to Lake Opoha, where we spent the night.



After a day of sightseeing in Christchurch, we drove to Kaikoura, our last stop in New Zealand. We booked a Whale watching tour, which got rescheduled due to the rough sea.

So we walked to a seal colony. It was super cool to see the wild animal in the wild!


The next day we hiked to Mt. Fyffe.



And then we could finally do the Whale watching. We saw some Albatross birds and two sperm whales.


After that, we had to drive back to Christchurch, where our flight to Australia started the next day.


New Zealand and chiefly the south Island will always be one of my favorite countries. The landscape is a dream. I love the plants, the people are so friendly and open, and the culture fascinates me.



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Wild Embrace 
Elopement und Hochzeitsfotograf Vorarlberg
Victoria Rüf & Fabian Willi
Bregenzerwald / Österreich / Europa
E-Mail: info@wildembrace.photo
Tel.: +43 664 2055606
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