I had a limited amount of time in New Zealand. It was hard trying to fit in as much as possible while being able to spend as much time as possible with my sister. I think I did quite well, but I did not make it to the glaciers. I did make it down to the Catlins which were stunning. This was how I did my South Island adventure. check out this itinerary for another South Island roadtrip. You can also check out this South Island guide.
If you have more time check out this crazy kiwi camper who has spent the last year travelling in her campervan.
Christchurch to Queenstown
I started researching my options of how to get to Queenstown. Although I was dreading sitting on another bus for 10+ hours, it seemed like the only way to do it. I booked my bus ticket the day before I left along with my Hostel, which was the weekend before ski season. I booked my bus ticket with the Naked Bus again which I had great experiences with so far. The bus left at 10am and it seems as if the scenery just got better and better by the minute.
The bus stopped at Lake Tekapo where we switched over drivers. Lake Tekapo has got to be one of the most beautiful places I have been. I jumped out and ran around snapping pictures like crazy.
Onwards to Wanaka, unfortunately we got in here just as the sun went down which was a little disappointing.
One of the trips I had been looking at was a boat trip through Milford Sound. I debated if the price was worth the experience. I basically made my decision based on “Would I regret not going if I never came back to New Zealand?” and my answer was yes, I would regret it if I missed it. So I used ‘bookme.co.nz’ to book my ticket. I chose the Juicy Cruiser with the coach to make life easier. I met these two amazing sisters that morning. The 5 hour drive to Milford Sound was stunning. What a way to start my South Island adventure.
Then we reached Milford Sound… There were no words to describe the beauty of this place. I had never seen anything like it, especially coming from a small island in the Caribbean. A picture is worth a thousand words.
We hopped back on the bus for a sunset drive back to Queenstown. Even after such a long day out we felt we needed to make the most of the Queenstown nightlife, so it was time to hit the bars for some drinks.
Technically I had been in Queenstown for over 24 hours but I had yet to see Queenstown. This morning I went for a walk through the botanical gardens by myself, just taking in the beauty of this place.
I met up with the sisters and we wandered around the shops for a while. Queenstown is just stunning, it’s a quaint little ski town surrounded by mountains. I think this was definitely one of my favorite cities. I’m a little sad I came before ski season opened as I would have loved to learn to ski. If skiing is your thing then you have to try out some night skiing in Queenstown.
That afternoon my sister flew in and we made plans for a spontaneous roadtrip. We couldn’t leave the adventure capital without doing something adventurous…
Nevis Bungy & Swing
Ok, just to be clear, I am scared of heights. My first option was the Kawarau Bridge jump as I have never jumped before. My sister convinced me to do Nevis and she would do the swing with me. So here I am…
Probably one of the scariest but most exhilarating things I had ever done in my life. Would I do it again? Definitely not Nevis, but maybe something smaller!
I thought the bungy was bad, we watched four people go before us on the swing and everyone said it was worse. Fantastic!
I really enjoyed doing it paired up with my sister, it was a great experience we got to share with each other.
From there we went to the airport to pick up the car. After we had gotten over the adrenaline rush of course! If you are a little worried about renting a car just check out this post about driving in New Zealand.
Queenstown to Mount Cook to Dunedin
We woke up super early the next morning so that we could get moving. We reached Wanaka just after sunrise, I finally got to see this quaint town in the sunlight. Then we had a 2 hour drive until Mount Cook, through mountain passes and lots of fog. There were a few stops along the way, but one of the highlights was when we reached Lake Pukaki and our first views of Mount Cook. The scenery on the South Island was just amazing.
The fog had suddenly cleared and it was a beautiful day for us. After wandering around and taking a few selfies with Mount Cook in the background, we hit the road again.
It was time to make our way to Dunedin which was about a four and a half hour drive. Ambitious? yes! but we made it, we reached Dunedin by 6pm where we found a park, checked in and grabbed some of the best Chinese food ever!
After such a long day yesterday I was kind of dreading being in the car all day again today but today was our only option as the next day was meant to be rainy. So we left Dunedin ridiculously early and headed out to explore the deep south of the South Island, our first stop, Nugget Point. The weather could not have been better, the sun was blazing and it was actually quite warm.
From Nugget Point to Purakaunui Falls, it was about a 40minute drive and a quick walk through the bush and we were here…
It was beautiful and we were the only people here. We took our time snapping more selfies for our family at home and then we were off again.
Unfortunately the Cathedral Caves were closed that day, which was a little disappointing. Instead we turned off the road and followed a road down to the back of someone’s sheep farm where we found McLean Falls. We walked for about 30minutes one way to find these falls which ended up being a bit more than I expected.
The last stop was Curio Bay, I was curious to check it out. It is a petrified forest which dates back to 180 million years ago. Silica preserved these trees, turning them into fossils. You can see evidence of this when you get down onto the beach. There are clearly tree stumps and logs around, which was really cool to see. No penguins though.
The next day was rainy which gave us a day to explore Dunedin. This town reminded me of somewhere in Europe with it’s beautiful old buildings.
I really loved Dunedin and wished I had sent a bit more time there but I saw quite a bit while I was there. The next morning we left at 6am for our drive back to Christchurch. It was a beautiful, and fun week of exploring the deep south.