After almost a month and a half of travel, we reached our final destination on the south island – the recently shaken (not stirred) city of Christchurch. A little over two years ago, a major earthquake hit the city, destroying much of the city center, and the city still has not fully recovered. Here, I took a couple of days to relax and recuperate, before flying out to my next destination – Bangkok!
Continue reading Travelogue: Christchurch
During my travels of New Zealand, there was one place I knew I had to visit – the southwestern Fiordlands in the south island. Carved out of mountains by retreating glaciers centuries ago, the Fiordlands are supposedly the most beautiful but remote place in all of New Zealand. It is true that you can get tired of anything, even breathtakingly beautiful scenery, but I was still pretty damn impressed.
Warning: this post will be text-light and photo-heavy.
Continue reading Travelogue: Fiordlands
Queenstown in the south island is known to be the adrenaline rush capital of New Zealand – from here, you can go skydiving, bungee jumping, swinging over a gorge, or whitewater rafting.
Personally, I found the entire place to be over-hyped, over-priced, and under-impressive, but you can do all sorts of crazy things here – if you have the cash. For example, I’m not crazy enough to do this, but there are a variety of ways you can swing across a canyon – jumping off, tipping over backwards while sitting on a chair, riding a tricycle over the edge, etc:
Continue reading Travelogue: Queenstown
I hate tourist towns, AKA, how I got my first speeding ticket:
While passing through Wanaka, a tourist town in the southern island, I got pulled over for a speeding ticket, for allegedly going 11 km (less than 7 miles) above the speed limit. In an area right after a 100 km limit transitioned to a 50 km limit. Going downhill.
The accompanying fine was $80; if I had been measured at going 1km / hour less, the fine would have been $20.
Continue reading Interlude: I Hate Tourist Towns
Check one off of the bucket list: climb Fox Glacier, on the Western edge of New Zealand’s South Island
So what exactly is a glacier? It’s this giant block of ice that’s slowly sliding down a mountain, carving out a path through the valley. The iceberg gets something like 10 meters of rain per year, which freezes and adds to the iceberg’s mass – as the iceberg grinds its way down the mountain, it continues to melt, so the iceberg shrinks and expands depending on rainfall and temperature.
Continue reading Travelogue: Fox Glacier
Abel Tasman National Park, on the northwestern tip of the south island, is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”, hosting a multi-day trek through the wilderness.
This was the real deal! We paddled a double kayak, complete with skirts to keep waves and water out of the where-we-are-sitting compartments, and neoprene hatch covers over our gear compartments, where we carried food, sleeping bags, tent, clothing, and all the other gear we needed for a 3-day trip.
Continue reading Travelogue: Abel Tasman National Park
While traveling, I found this amazing all-purpose New Zealand postcard. Unfortunately, my pen ran out of ink, so I’m going to post it online:
Continue reading Interlude: from New Zealand with Love
The South Island of New Zealand is quite different from the North Island – whereas the north has a good balance of beautiful natural scenery and civilization, the scales of the south island are quite lopsided in favor of nature. More often than not, I had zero bars of reception on my cell phone – and no radio stations either! (Though I didn’t mind the lack of radio coverage – as it turns out, my travel partner and I have zero overlap in our music tastes).
From Picton, a tiny town on the top of the South Island, we drove down the western mountainous coast of the southern island, taking hikes and climbing glaciers, before visiting the breathtaking fiordlands to the southwest corner of the south island. Then, we followed the southern scenic route down the southern edge of the south island, and traveled back up through the eastern coast to earthquake-shaken city of Christchuch.
My route plotted on Google Maps!
Continue reading Travelogue: South Island, New Zealand