Travels 2016: South Island, New Zealand

Picton → Christchurch → Dunedin → Invercargill → Queenstown → Wanaka → Tekapo → Christchurch

And so we reach the end of our journey, and the end of the story of our three-month trip around the world. Let’s pretend that this part didn’t take me two months to write…

New Zealand’s South Island is mountainous, wild, and basically just completely epic. We traipsed around it for two weeks, hopping on and off various public buses and arriving in strange towns with just our bags, our beloved neck pillows, and a vague set of directions to the next hostel.

We found Christchurch to be as empty and deserted as everybody had warned it would be, post-earthquake, but Dunedin was livelier and had a familiar old-fashioned feel. The city is based on Edinburgh and has a lovely art gallery, train station, Saturday morning Farmers’ Market and museum about the first settlers in Otago.

I found this quote in the museum from Mark Twain about the area and the first settlers to arrive in Otago and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since:

They stopped here on their way from home to heaven – thinking they had arrived.

In Invercargill we found nothing much but the world’s most Southern Starbucks and a whole lot of closed shops because it was Easter Sunday, but at least I managed to beat two Germans and a Russian at Scrabble in our hostel. Our next stop, Queenstown, is probably the most infamous destination in NZ’s South Island – a veritable Disneyland of things to do and see – and although I definitely couldn’t afford the skydives and bungee jumps, I loved wandering the town with the most insane mountain and lake views, climbing to the top of the mountain above and luging down in the rain, and our cool, alternative hotel which offered yoga classes, a sunrise teepee and overall good vibes. A day trip to Milford Sound was like an ethereal experience I will never forget as we wound through mountainous Fiordland roads to arrive at the Sound itself to rare, blazing sun.

In Wanaka we went to the famous Wanaka Cinema Paradiso to sample the half-time freshly-baked cookies, tried our luck at hitch-hiking, and successfully climbed Roy’s Peak in 3 and a half hours to breathtaking views above the clouds. And then our last stop was Tekapo for some stargazing at the best place in the world for seeing the stars. You could look up at night and see the Milky Way – it was pretty special, and a lovely place to finish up our trip before heading briefly back to Christchurch and onwards for our insanely long 40+ hour journey home, in which we stopped in so many countries and crossed so many time zones that by the time I arrived back in London, I wasn’t even able to tell the guy at border patrol my own age.

And now I’m back and embarking on new adventures: not the travelling sort, but the new job sort, and although this whole trip is starting to feel something like a distant dream, I am so glad that I took so many photos and wrote everything down in so much detail. I feel so grateful to have had the experiences that I’ve had, and as much as I would like to travel around forever and see all the places on my ever-increasing list, it’s definitely time to settle down for the meanwhile and try and be an adult, I suppose.

So here’s to all the memories I made and the people I met, the photos I took and the inspiration I drew. Here’s to more travels in the future and more adventures everyday.

If you would like to read about what I packed for my travels, please click here.

If you would like to read me rant about the very official medical term, Post-Travel Blues, and how to cope, please click here.

Otherwise please admire my photos below and feel suitably awed.

NZ South Island 1NZ South Island 2NZ South Island 3NZ South Island 4NZ South Island 5NZ South Island 6NZ South Island 7NZ South Island 8NZ South Island 9NZ South Island 10NZ South Island 11NZ South Island 12NZ South Island 13NZ South Island 14NZ South Island 15NZ South Island 16NZ South Island 17NZ South Island 18NZ South Island 19NZ South Island 20NZ South Island 21

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