Photo diary of the South Island: December 31st to January 13th

This part of the country is vast, with rolling hills and crystal clear lakes, imposing landscapes and unpredictable weather, and where most people go to first on an exploration of New Zealand. These photos and short descriptions show our journey through the island, our favourite places and experiences, and hopefully will be as pleasant to see as they are to relive! 

New Year’s Eve, Christchurch

We went for pizza and savs in a centre-town restaurant, and then to the park after overhearing the young ‘uns  in the hostel say it’s where everyone goes for the bells. My ears pricked up at the sound of bagpipes, and we stumbled upon a free, Celtic-style concert, with a group playing Irish and Scottish music! 

New Year’s Day, Lake Tekapo

The most incredible blue I’ve ever seen, these mountain lakes were one of my favourite sights on the Island. 

January 2nd, Tasman Glacier

Another incredible and surprising sight. Weather having taken a slight turn for the wintery, we couldn’t do the walk we had planned and instead did a short walk to view these strange, broken-off icebergs which had parted themselves from the Tasman Glacier 300 metres away.

January 2nd, Clay Cliffs of Omarama

Some strange rock formations just off the highway on our way to Queenstown. The weather is NOT getting better yet!

January 3rd, Wye Creek, Queenstown
Defying the Queenstown traditions of bungy jumping and jetboating, we found this great walk just outside of the town and spent the day exploring (and doing acrobatics, of course), unbothered by the crowds of people in town queueing up for a Fergburger (I just don’t get it).

Still January 3rd, Adrien’s birthday dinner (planned since his actual birthday on November 30th), Skyline restaurant above Queenstown 

We took a gondola to the Skyline restaurant and enjoyed a very varied and crowd-pleasing buffet over a dramatic view, such a great evening and a really lovely dinner out!

January 5th, Falls Creek, Milford 

Such a fun walk here- see those tree roots? That is the actual path. This is on the famed Milford road. Many people stop here to take pictures of the beautiful creek, but few seem to do the walk which meant we were, again, unbothered by the crowds heading for Milford Sound.

January 7th, Milford Sound 

More dramatic views, this time from the harbour by Milford Sound. We found a cheap 2-hour cruise which went through the fiords and waterfalls (literally through- we  dripped back to the car!).

Still January 7th, Gertrude’s Saddle

A bracing walk we couldn’t finish due to the wet and slippy conditions, I was also full of the cold and not loving life at this moment, starting to get sick of chilly South Island summers! Get me back to the North..

January 9th, Abel Tasman 
The best campsite we stayed in: $6 each a night, and this view.

January 11th, still Abel Tasman

This place is beautiful (caves, pools, beaches), and I really needed this weather after the drizzle and fog further South! Here we had one cooler day but still swam, and discovered the joys of beach frisbee! 

January 13th, Queen Charlotte Sounds

The unsung attraction of the South, seemingly empty and miles and miles of beauty to be seen. 

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