On December 12th we arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand, and we absolutely fell in love with this country!
We experienced so many great things during our first days of our NZ trip, so we will just summarize what we did in those days without giving too many details at one time.
Actually, the beginning wasn’t that smooth:
When we wanted to check in on our plane from Sydney to Christchurch they didn’t want to let us on the plane, because we hadn’t had a return ticket out of NZ. We didn’t think about that before and were forced to book the cheapest available flight within only 15 minutes. After some struggling with the internet we found a good flight to Gold Coast in Australia on January 22nd. Unlike expected, our time in NZ was now limited to a couple of weeks.
We started our trip with a two day stay in (unspectacular) Christchurch where we got some basic picnic stuff and a lot of food from the Pack’n’Safe store. After all that time it was great to prepare some meals ourselves.
Christchurch was hit by an enormous earthquake in 2011 which destroyed most of the city center. At the moment the city center is going to be rebuild, so there is still a lot of constructions going on. But also a lot of artists are giving Christchurch new hope by using public space or ruins for their artwork.
After catching our rental car at Jucy car rental, we drove west to Arthur’s Pass. Unfortunately, it was raining all day (obviously the first day after 46 days) and quite cold, so we couldn’t enjoy the beautiful landscape that much.
We started at the cost, drove through huge meadow areas with sheep, cows and deer, which changed first to hills and then to mountains with great valley views. Arthur’s Pass is a very small village in the middle of the mountains. The first evening we did a short hike in the rain to the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. The next day the weather was sunny again so we could to the famous Avalanche Peak Hike, which was absolutely gorgeous with wonderful views over the southern alps.
After two days at Arthur’s pass we drove further west to visit the Pancake rocks and did a nice jungle hike before we had a picnic at a wonderful empty beach.
The scenic road along the westcost is definetly worth a visit and we had only sunshine on our way . If we hadn’t have to arrive at our hostel in Hokitika early that evening, we would have loved to stop at every single picnic place just to enjoy the views. From Hokitika we drove towards Franz Josef and Fox glacier (with a short stop at the old gold digger town Ross). Back in the mountains the weather changed again so that we just gave Fox glacier a short visit. The glacier (tongue) isn’t that exciting, because it went back a lot during the last years and there wasn’t much to see (especially at the bad weather). The next day started quite warm (but still cloudy) so we drove to Gillepsies beach to do a wetland and rain forest hike to a hard to reach beach where you often can find a seals colony. But we were unlucky that day and just saw on single seal laying on a rock far away from the coast. But even without seeing seals the beach was wonderful. In the afternoon we went to Franz Josef glacier, which was slightly more impressive than Fox.
Our third day at the glaciers started way better with blue skies and a lot of sun. That was our chance to do the one thing, I always wanted to do: skydiving. And you couldn’t imagine a better spot than this place and its wonderful surroundings. We got very lucky and got a morning slot the same day without that much of waiting time. The flight up to our jumping position was already really breathtaking, but the skydive itself was even better. The beginning was quite thrilling, but after the free fall (about 45 seconds) we could really enjoy the beautiful landscape with the glaciers and mountains on one hand and the turquoise ocean on the other.
We spent the afternoon cruising along the beautiful coastal road, through forest and mountains and along the gorgeous Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea to our next destination: the small mountainside resort Wanaka (or precisely Albert Town). Our plan for the next days was hiking to Rob Roy glacier and to Roy’s Peak.
Rob Roy glacier was really amazing. To get to the start of the hike was already an adventure itself. We had to drive about 30 km on a lose gravel road with a couple of deep forts (and that with our real small Suzuki Swift). But the drive was absolutely worth it. When we arrived at the Mount Aspring National Park the views on snow capped mountains, deep valleys and rough rivers were amazing and got even better while climbing up to Roy’s glacier viewpoint. That glacier was much more impressive than the more famous Fox and Franz Josef glaciers!
After that experience we were really looking forward to Roy’s Peak hike, which should be one of five best tracks in New Zealand. But maybe it was our high expectations: we couldn’t share the hype of this trail. The views over Lake Wanaka and to the mountains were absolutely great, no question! The way itself was very steep and boring. It was a wide farm road leading to the top of the mountain where just tussock grass is growing. We only saw a couple of sheep, a lot of grass and many, many tourists who seemed not quite fit enough to make the 1.200 meters of ascend.
In the afternoon we drove to Queenstown where we had to return our car and where we were fetched by John, our host for the next couple of weeks.
We had an amazing time travelling through New Zealand and cannot wait to see more of that gorgeous country.
You can find more information on our hikes here: