Cedric and his wife Melody travelled North from Queenstown to Christchurch with our maui Ultima. Cedric is a photographer and Melody is a writer, both have been fascinated with New Zealand’s South Island for a very long time. The landscape here is full of drama and breath-taking scale. Both this trip and the last have filled them with a lot of inspiration. They would not travel the South Island any other way than with a motorhome because it allowed them to get up close and intimate with the landscape. Cedric and Melody feel like they will be back many times yet and we hope to welcome them back to New Zealand!
Queenstown to Christchurch
Best Time of the Year
- Fiordland NP
- South Coast
- Lindis Pass
- Aoraki NP
After flying into Queenstown (on a lovely, empty plane!) we picked up the motorhome from the Queenstown branch with no troubles and had fun learning how it all worked. We headed into Queenstown and tried to adjust to the new time zone and needed to settle in. Being used to camping in a tent, we felt like we were living the luxurious life in our mau motorhome.
After a long sleep in, we were excited to re-visit one of our favourite places: Moke Lake. The drive, about 20 minutes out of Queenstown, is through incredible yellow mountains. The lake itself is beautiful and calming. We did the loop track around it which took just under 2 hours. Then we headed down the road towards Glenorchy and stayed the night at a freedom camp spot.
We woke up next to the lake with misty mountains all around. After breakfast, we headed into Glenorchy: a pretty little town with a slow, quiet atmosphere. We loved wandering along a little track that runs along the lake. In the afternoon, we hiked the Glacier Burn track up to the bush line (apparently it’s not safe to go higher in winter). The walk was through a mossy dark forest, with glimpses of the lake below. That night we stayed in another freedom camp spot along the road back to Queenstown.
This day we walked the Mount Creighton Loop Track. It was another pretty walk through forest – and seemed like a local’s favourite. Afterwards, we headed into Queenstown and wandered around the city. The foreshore was beautiful at sunset time. We stayed in a caravan park that night and enjoyed putting the heater on to keep us warm.
Queenstown to Fiordland National Park
Cedric is a baked goods fan, so we popped into the popular Ferg Baker for a pie before making the drive down to Fiordland National Park. The day was filled with little stops along the way - anywhere we thought was pretty. New Zealand is great for following your curiosity and discovering secluded spots to enjoy a cuppa. We camped in one of the DOC sites along the Te Anau-Milford Highway. Being winter, we had it to ourselves.
In the morning, there was fog everywhere in the Eglinton Valley. We got going quickly so we could enjoy it before it dissipated. The sun, hidden behind the mountains, took a while to reach the valley, but once it did we were thankful for its warmth. We cooked breakfast by Lake Gunn before heading into Milford Sound. It’s such an incredible drive. Once at the Sound, we spent the afternoon wandering around the foreshore. It was so much quieter than when we visited last year in summer! We stayed the night at Milford Lodge.
The highlight of day 7 was hiking Lake Marian. The terrain is a little challenging at points, but we loved it. At the top, the view of the lake surrounded by snowy peaks is sublime. We pottered around, just enjoying the view and the sound of many birds. That night we camped at another DOC site.
Fiordland to Invercargill
The drive to Invercargill was green and hilly farmland. We were happy when we hit the south coast and loved the wildness of the ocean. Curio Bay was a pretty stop where we had a wander on the beach and marvelled at how huge the seaweed was! We stayed the night at a caravan park in Invercargill and enjoyed some downtime.
Invercargill to Kaka Point
We were excited to check out the Catlins, and some of the falls there were beautiful. But the highlight of the day was the coast at Nugget Point. There, misty cliffs and interesting rocky structures create a sublime landscape. And the sea itself was mesmerising. We stayed the night nearby at Kaka Point Camping Grounds.
We drove up to Dunedin and had a morning walk to Tunnel Beach. It’s an amazing spot with sublime cliffs and rough ocean. We headed into the city, found some parking about 15-minute walk from the centre and just strolled around. We particularly enjoyed the art gallery. As night began to fall, we headed on the road and camped at a free camping spot about an hour and a half out of town. Finding camp spots like this was easy with the CamperMate app that was on our Tomtom.
Lindis Pass & Aoraki NP
This day we hiked Sealey Tarns, the most challenging but rewarding activity of our trip! It’s about one-and-a-half relentless hours of climbing stairs. For the last half-an-hour we were crunching through snow, which thrilled us (being from snow-less Western Australia!). At the top, the view was incredible. We could see so far around us: glacial lakes, snowy peaks and far below, Mount Cook village. Afterwards, we made the four-hour drive to Christchurch, stopping once for some amazing pies at Fairlie Bakehouse.
Day 13 & 14
After nearly two weeks of exploring, we were ready for a couple of days of rest! We enjoyed date night in the city and managed to fit in a couple of beach strolls before the weather turned icy cold. We were quite cosy in the camper while the rain poured through the night. And then it was already timer to return our beloved maui Ultima to the Christchurch branch. We had an incredible trip touring through New Zealand's South Island and everything went super smooth with maui and their excellent motorhomes - we will definitely be coming back!
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