I have been out of touch for a few weeks because we have been traveling around the South Island. A lack of Internet access has been the main thing keeping me from updating you on my epic New Zealand adventure, as we have mostly been off the grid.
Luca’s parents came to visit us for a couple of weeks and we picked them up in Christchurch after visiting the West Coast.
On the way to pick up Luca’s parents, we passed through Arthur’s Pass. This drive was definitely one of my favorites. We passed through a grassy valley with mountains shooting up on both sides. It was like I was in the place Lord of the Rings was filmed or something!
As we were driving down the road, I saw these massive boulders in the distance and when we got closer, I was excited to see that you could go and climb on them. The boulders were called Castle Rock and they were outstanding. It was a jungle gym of massive rocks in a never-ending grassy field. You felt so small up close to them.
Traveling with Luca’s parents was delightful. It was nice to have other people to talk to, as Luca and I have run out of things to talk to each other about at this point. All four of us, including everybody’s luggage and food, would squeeze into the little Nissan Sunny Saloon. We would dread packing the car every time we would leave a place because we would have to strategically pack our items in every extra space in the car’s trunk and back middle seat. The little car would have to put a lot of extra effort in when climbing the hills, and you would most likely find us puffing up the hills while several cars zipped pass us in an effort to go faster. In the end, we made it work.
Luca’s father, Carlo, is a wonderful photographer and his photos from our trip down South will be featured along with our photos throughout the next few posts. We had quite the media team with us!
Our first destination was Lake Tekapo in the Southern Lakes region. Lake Tekapo is known for its turquoise water made from Glacier melt.
Lake Tekapo is also one of the darkest places in New Zealand, so the stars at night are a sight to not miss. You can actually view the stars from an observatory on top of Mount John for a kagillion dollars that poor travelers like us can’t afford.
We walked up to the observatory for the aerial view of Lake Tekapo and settled with viewing the stars from our tent for free.
Our second stop was Lake Pukaki, which is at the base of Aoraki/Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand. The drive was once again incredible. The road weaved along the bright, turquoise lake with the glorious, snow-capped Mount Cook peaking out from the clouds ahead.
No sign of humanity was anywhere; except the occasional flock of sheep on the side of the road. When you travel through the South Island, you take note on how sparsely populated that side of the world is. It wasn’t surprising to not see a sign of civilization for two hours or more when driving from destination to destination. It is funny because when you look at a map and see what you think would be a “large town,” because it is printed in bold letters, you find out that it is really only two houses and maybe a gas station if you are lucky.
We decided to hike the Hooker Valley walk, which was about a 3-hour return. The valley led right up to the base of Mount Cook, giving you spectacular views of the mountain and glacier streams. Our walk started off sort of cloudy and then the clouds seemed to magically clear away when we reached the base of Mount Cook. We got really lucky with the weather! It was agreed between the four of us that it was definitely one of the best walks in New Zealand.
On the way to our hostel, we stopped and got some delicious Alpine salmon that we cooked for dinner. It was the perfect way to end a perfect day.