In the early spring of September 2014, I decided to take a super spontaneous trip somewhere, but didn’t know where to. Work was absolutely draining at that point, and I told myself that I needed a break, no matter how little the days I could afford. And so, I applied for my leave a week before, booked my tickets, squeezed time out every night for about 5 days to plan, and I got my 5 days trip to South Island, New Zealand! Essentially minus off the flight, it was a 4 days 5 nights trip. It turned out to be one of the best breaks I’ve ever had thus far, and it’s this trip that made me love last minute trips even more.
I’ve done up individual blog posts of the towns I went to on this trip, but here is a more condensed version, with minimal pics, but more focused on the overall itinerary and what I think are the highlights of each place. I’ve also added direct links to the individual destination post under each ‘Day’ section, and I highly recommend you to check those out because there’s lots more pictures and description of the places I went!
Below’s a good overview of how I did my itinerary, basically it’s a loop beginning and ending in Christchurch. I definitely have lots of places to cover on my next trip, but these are bascially the ones on my priority list!
I visited Tekapo on my previous trip to NZ, and it was kind of like the very first place that made me fall in love with the country. It was such a short, day trip that time, so I felt like I must come back and spend a little bit more time here on this trip. The Astro Cafe is and will always be my favourite cafe on earth. And also, I got to do a stargazing tour this time round! Church of the Good Shepherd was also open just in time to visit. I remember on the previous trip, I’d just missed the closing time.
This was my last leg of the 17 days backpacking trip, so I was feeling a little sad while on the bus from Mt Cook. The 4pm bus took about 2.5 hours to get to Tekapo, so it was evening by the time I got there. Being the last stop of the trip, I decided to check- in into a decent hotel, The Godley, which sits just in front of the lake. After which, first order of business was to Kohan to get my salmon sashimi fix! So, so glad to be back.
I love Mt Cook. Of all the places I’ve been to on this trip, this area is by far, the most beautiful place I have ever been to, and stayed in.
So I left Wanaka early morning at about 9am, and took an Intercity bus to Mt Cook, stopping by a couple of places in between. The first stop I remember was Tarras, a small sheep farming settlement, known for producing merino wool. It was rather cloudy that day so it all looked a bit dark and gloomy. And sure enough it poured throughout the bus journey, till about 12pm when we reached Mt Cook! Super lucky I’d say. Was thankful to still be able to catch the Lake Pukaki along the way, one of the blue-est lake in NZ!
Lake Wanaka – Lots of Cycling, Black Peak Gelato, Scenic Flight to Coromandel Peak and That Wanaka Tree
After Queenstown, I took yet another Intercity bus onwards to Wanaka. After browsing through so much of it on Instagram, it was kind of a place I really looked forward to, especially hiking Roy’s Peak. I didn’t complete it, though. Instead, I decided to give up mid-way and did a scenic helicopter flight instead. Yes, I guess I was just addicted to the feeling of flying! It was so fun… and just overindulgent I know.
Wanaka is a really quiet town, like Te Anau. Of course, I got to finally see that famous Wanaka Tree. I guess the most memorable thing I did in Wanaka was that I spent pretty much an entire day cycling around the circumference of the lake. It was so relaxing, though I got really burnt at the end of it. Haha.
Queenstown – An Adventure Town no less! HELICOPTER SCENIC RIDE, FERGBURGER, QUEENSTOWN HILL, ARROWTOWN, GONDOLA
So after Te Anau, I took an early morning 7am bus which picked me up at my YHA hostel and went on to Queenstown. Queenstown is one of my most anticipated places to visit, purely because it looks like a really compact town, with pretty urban features yet is surrounded by so much nature to see. Prior to arriving, I’ve heard of people who didn’t like it at all, because it is noisier, and way more touristy. I always feel that certain places are touristy for a good reason! And for most of the time, it’s because a place is so worth seeing, that everyone has to visit. Right? Albeit usually crowded for sure. Well, after experiencing a short stay there myself, I’ve got to say it’s definitely worth a trip down, and if given a chance again to go, I’d do skydiving for sure!I did my first ever helicopter ride there, and it definitely was a major highlight of my life!
Upon arrival in Christchurch, I stayed for one night, and then took a morning InterCity bus from the Christchurch bus interchange to Te Anau, which costs $30. The bus journey began at 7.45am, and arrived in the quiet town of Te Anau at 6.30pm, with a couple of coffee/toilet stops in between at Omaru and Dunedin. It was a long journey on the watch, but it really didn’t feel that long because of the beautiful sights along the way, and the half hour stops on between! Was quite happy to get a glimpse of those 2 towns I didn’t get to go. Omaru is famous for its penguins, and Dunedin basically reminded me of a larger, slightly more urban version of Akaroa.
Te Anau is popularly known as the gateway to Fiordland National Park, which was thus my ‘base’ for the Kepler Track great walk!