• Kia at the top of Ben Lommond

Month 15: Travel Summary

Oh my goodness – it has taken us so long to put together this monthly summary!

  1. It was an action packed month
  2. Since returning to the UK we’ve slipped a bit on the updates. But stay tuned. We’re attempting to catch you up on all the details of our time in New Zealand before beginning our next big adventure.

Akaroa viewMonth 15 and the beginning of 2017 began with a roadtrip to Akaroa, just an hour and a half drive from Christchurch. The incredible views from the pass sum up just what we love about roadtrips: The opportunity to take ourselves off in any direction, with a many stops as we want along the way. In scenic countries, such as New Zealand, the freedom of your own wheels is a blessing indeed.

Lush green hills populated with sheep and stunning blue waters spread out below us. The road wove down into town which is distinctly French is character. After all, it’s only place where the French managed to gain a foothold.Akaroa War Memorial

Akaroa is famous for its Hector dolphins, the smallest dolphins in the world. On a boat trip we were entertained by their antics as they played in the water and rode the bow wave. Hector dolphins, Akaroa

Out to sea, we also came across a petrel having a rest on the waters. Petrol, Akaroa

Akaroa’s other famous residents are the blue penguin. We spent two days at Pohatu Penguins with a family of sheep farmers who very quickly realised they were living in the middle of a penguin colony. They are devoted to the conservation of this little bird.

We began our trip by visiting some of the most idyllic spots in the area. These turquoise waters are simply stunning.Akaroa views

The Banks Peninsula walk passes through their land. We took the opportunity to walk through part of this beautiful example of native bush. Regenerated New Zealand Bush, Banks Peninsula, AkaroaDanger! Banks Peninsula, Akaroa

At sunset we donned attractive camouflage outfits (for warmth and fashion) and headed out to meet the Little Blue Penguins and watch them return to their nests.Dressed in camo gear to find the penguins, Pohatu Penguins, AkaroaRearing Little Blue Penguin chicks by hand, Akaroa

Little Blue Penguin preparing to land AkaroaLittle Blue Penguin chick in it's nest, Pohatu Penguins, Akaroa

From Akaroa we headed to Lake Tekapo and its super famous and much photographed church.Church of the Good Shepherd, TakapoView across Lake Tekapo

A walk up Mount John rewarded us with stunning views across the plains.From Mount John summit, being blown away! Lake Takepo, New Zealand

Mount John stileOn the road to Mount Cook we were surrounded by snow-topped peaks and stunning views.Road to Mount Cook

We stopped at Tasman Glacier which is retreating at an alarming rate.Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook

And set up camp at the DOC Whitehorse Hill campsite ready to take the steep climb to Mueller Hut the next day. It was one of the most gruelling hikes we did in New Zealand, yet it’s a firm favourite. After climbing 2200 stairs, we then scrambled up loose scree and met a fierce headwind as we took our first steps on snow in over two years.Crossing the first snow, Mueller Hut path

Surrounded by glaciers, ice cliffs and New Zealand’s highest peaks, we finally reached Mueller Hut which has to be one of the best and most perfectly situated DOC huts in the country.Eliza crossing the ice field to the Mueller Hu At the Mueller HutHanging glacier field opposite Mueller Hut

We cut back east in the direction of Oamaru where we took a trip around the Steampunk museum.SteampunkHQ

Tucked into a fabulous cheeseboard at Whitstone Cheeses.Whitestone Cheese's tasting platter

And supped on local whiskey (well Chris did).Whisky tasting, Oamaru

We watched the Moeraki Boulders come to life at sunrise.Early morning at Moraki boulders

And hung around after all the photographers had left to enjoy them all to ourselves.Broken Moeraki BouldersEaten by the Moeraki BouldersJumping across the Moraki boulders

The next stop was Dunedin and like its Scottish namesake, it rained and rained. That didn’t stop us taking pictures of New Zealand’s most photographed building: Dunedin Railway Station.Dunedin Station - the old ticket hall Dunedin Station at Night

We visited the famous tunnel beach…Tunnel Beach headland Tunnel Beach tunnel

….then took a trip with Elm Tours to see the magnificent Royal albatross, sea lions, a seal colony and the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.Royal AlbatrossYellow Eyed Penguin familySeal PupMale and female sea lion

It was a great trip but knowing what came after, we wouldn’t do it again as we got to see them all for free…

We headed to Nugget Point.Us taking our Nugget Point selfie Nugget Point lighthouse and nuggets

And watched yellow-eyed penguins arrive at dusk at Roaring Bay.Yellow Eyed Penguin coming in at Roaring Bay

We then made our way down to the Catlins which is when a ‘weather-bomb’ hit. It POURED with rain. Great fun in a little two-man tent. Not. (Actually we stayed was lovely and the owners made us incredibly welcome especially as we spent our time hiding from the rain in the communal lounge hoping to get to the Cathedral Caves – we couldn’t.)

However, in between the downpours, we went down to the beach where we were entertained by friendly resident sea-lion, Albert. He likes to show off to humans.Albert - checking us out

And checked out the strange but cool Teapot LandTeapot Land

And the stranger and curious Lost Gypsy Gallery.Lost Gypsy Gallery

After a brief stop to dry out in Invercargill, we headed up the road to Manipouri. On a rare sunny day, we drove along the incredibly scenic route to Milford Sound.  The sound may not have been like a mirror for us, but it was very dramatic.Looking out to Milford SoundOut on the boat tour, Milford Sound

Our boat captain drove us up close to the waterfalls for a shower and rainbows.Milford Sound waterfall and rainbows

And we saw more dolphins (still no great photographs!)

But Milford Sound was stunning (and so were we!)Us on the Milford Sound

We stopped to take a bazillion photos on the way and back.Amid Lupins and fox gloves, returning from Milford Sound Meadow, returning from Milford Sound Above Lake Manapori Mirror Lake

After the success of our Milford Sound trip, we decided to risk the storm clouds and take an overnight trip on Doubtful Sound.

The weather was terrible but it was still an incredible place to visit.Rain lashed windscreen (again)

We ate mountains of deliciously sweet crayfish.Freshly caught crayfish for dinner

Had our first go and fishing (Eliza was a natural and caught dinner for everyone).Eliza the fisherwoman

And we were joined by a friendly albatross.Albatros surfing the waves

At the end of our trip a pod of dolphins briefly joined us but where keen to protect their newborn rather than play. One day we’ll get a great shot of these wonderful creatures.Hector Dolphin, Doubtful Sound

On our way to Queenstown we made a stop at Clifton Caves and crawled through the narrow dark tunnels.Eliza caving in Clifden Cave

And teetered around the edge of a very deep, very cold underground pool.Chris edging around the pool

Queenstown is an adventure playground. We went river surfing.River surfing

Hiked up Ben Lommond.

Whizzed down the luge.Queenstown Luge


Ate the famous FergburgersFergberger!

And Mexican food at Taco Medic and at Caribe Latin Kitchen.Fish Taco and Pernil Arepas

The road to Glenorchy was gorgeous.

Glenorchy itself is a stunner too. We could move here!Glenorchy Boathouse

We ended the month by walking a stunning section of the Routeburn Track. Of all New Zealand Great Walks, this is the one we wished we had managed to book. You need to do that months and months in advance though.Routeburn View

Looking back, we packed a lot into January, yet surrounded by nature and so much beauty, it didn’t feel rushed.


1 Comment

  • comment-avatar
    Cheryl 4 September 2017 (10:05)

    great photos, brought back some memories