Hello and welcome to our adventures in New Zealand! We covered a lot of the South Island in a week, so I plan to show you day-by-day what we did and where we went. The kids were really good in the car the whole week, and we found the drive easy and also easily broken up. There are so many cool spots to stop, whether you want a cup of coffee, something to eat or to just take photos of the most amazing views. Our first day was a fair hike – the map says five hours but we stopped a few times on the way. It was great weather until we reached the Southern Alps, then it had rain and other surprises for us. By the time we reached our B+B in Fox Glacier, it had stopped raining and the cloud was beginning to lift… ready for the most spectacular view ever.
We woke reasonably early at our airport motel and did very little in the way of planning except to look at a map and figure out how to get out of Christchurch in the direction we wanted to go. Our motel was literally 5 minutes from the airport, so when we arrived at 11pm, we picked up our hire car (which did not have two car seats, as booked) and went straight to our motel. We went back the next morning to get the second car seat (they had given us one car seat and one booster which clearly was not ideal) and we set off west. Not too far into our trip, we were greeted with this:
Mountains! It was surreal driving along and seeing them pop up, and then suddenly you were right in the middle of them. We stopped along the way at Sheffield and had a veggie pie each from their famous pie shop. We went to a lot of the places our trusty Lonely Planet South Island book recommended, but we also found some gems that weren’t mentioned. But yes, before we knew it, we were right in the Southern Alps.
And let me tell you, they were divine. I got a sore neck about half an hour in, I was craning to look out of every window. We have more pictures of the Alps and our trip on Flickr so we don’t bore you to death in the posts, but do go and check out the scenery. It was just amazing.
We had scheduled a stop at Arthur’s Pass, but both kids were asleep and it was pouring with rain when we got there. Veggie Dad headed into one of the eateries for a sandwich and hot chocolate and came out pretty much straight away. The lines were inconceivably long and we weren’t that hungry anyway. It did mean that once the kids woke up a little farther down the track, I was nibbling the chocolate off some rice crackers to give to Pepper to gnaw on, and Abby was fed with some random things we had stashed in our bag for the plane ride the previous night. Not ideal! We made a stop in the nearest big town, which was the delightful…
Hokitika! It was unbelievably windy and wet there, and as we drove into its wide streets (the place is crazy cute!), we saw the roof had blown off the town pub. There were men with tarps on top of it, and fire engines and police cars surrounding it. We had originally decided to grab some chips and head to Sunset Point on Gibson Quay to eat and watch the surf + seagulls. It was way too cold to get out of the car, so as we were sitting and eating, the news comes on and tells us there was a cyclone that had passed directly over where we were sitting about half an hour before. A cyclone! No wonder the weather was so intense. The chips were good though (even though the girl who served them was hilariously surly and we joked the chips had been coated in hate and fury which is probably why they were so delicious). I really wanted to look in the shops here but the weather was so foul we carried on. I was sad about that for the rest of the trip.
We got out of the car and stretched our legs and I fed Pepper here for a bit at Lake Ianthe. Abby went out onto the jetty and tried to talk to the ducks, and we all sorted ourselves out a bit. It was really pretty, but you’ll find we thought that about pretty much everywhere!
When we got to our B+B at Fox Glacier, we were amazed at the crazy clouds so low over the mountains. We could see it was starting to clear up but we had very little clue of what the mountains were hiding. Our B+B host was very friendly, and helpful with advice on what to do while we still had some light (we arrived at about 6-ish, so had an hour and a half of light left to us) and where to go for dinner that would be kid-friendly. We ended up going to Matheson Cafe and sitting outside to see the lovely view and so our kids wouldn’t annoy anyone. It wasn’t overly cold, and Abby and Pepper were reasonably relaxed, but we ended up getting our mains to go after we could see they wouldn’t sit there for much longer. We had a night of very little sleep due to a restless toddler and a hungry baby. Oh not to mention a storm that made Veggie Dad and I both think a new cyclone had arrived and the roof was going to fly off, leaving us soaked from the relentless rain. Pepper was in a portacot, but the rest of us were in one bed and Abby likes to sleep directly on top of people. She wasn’t impressed to find I had to move her to feed Pepper a few times and it meant that the TV was on and entertaining them while we tried to catch a few zzz’s at 4am. We eventually all fell back asleep again, all four in the bed when we were awakened by a strange sound when we least expected it…
*NB – this was a self-funded trip.
More photos here.
Day two is here.
Day three is here.
Day four is here.
Day five is here.
Day six is here.