January 3rd, 2017
Invercargill to Queenstown via Milford Sound
Highlight: The Buffet
Lowlight: The amount of driving today, so sleepy!
5:15 am and the alarm goes off, what were we thinking?! With barely any sleep and feeling quite seedy we set off for Te Anau to go on our Milford Sound tour. Gutted that the weather is so foggy and bleak on the one day we needed amazing. We have managed to miss a lot of the rain thus far, but today it caught up to us.
Grace drove this morning and Mike looked cozy as all tucked up in the back. I regret not sleeping on the drive too. We got to Te Anau found a park and got a dirty pie each for breakfast. I got steak and cheese and it was loaded with steak. We made pretty good time on the trip in, yay for no wind.
I’m so sleepy I have been sleeping on Mike’s arm during the boring bits. It’s so warm in the van/bus that it’s hard to stay awake. When we get out to explore it’s a good break from the heat. I had no idea when I booked the tour that it included a bus tour. This added more time, but I think it was worth it.
Stops along the way:
- Egglington Valley (that they set on fire back in the day)
- The mirror lake
- Knobs flat
- Falls creek (worlds wettest water)
- Homer’s Tunnel
We left the tunnel and there was basically no visibility. We are missing what we can only assume are spectacular views. It was a pretty cool tunnel, it went downhill and we were a lot lower down out the other side. We boarded the boat and were given our pita pit. Pre-made sandwiches would usually concern me, but they were delicious! Chicken nom nom
We spent the first part of the cruise on the top deck, it was very windy and wet up there though. Mike and I went below deck (I had a sneaky kit kat and hot chocolate). We then went out to the front of the boat (which was crazy windy, but so fun) and took lots of photos. This was the least crowded part of the boat due to the weather.
I was starting to feel quit sick so I went back to sit below deck. The fur seals were so cute, it was cool how the captain was able to move the boat around seal rock. The rest of the squad (minus Mike) stood outside when the boat went right up to the waterfall. Screw that! They came back absolutely soaked.
Interesting fact: There are only 2 permanent waterfalls in Milford Sound. This changes due to weather, there can be thousands after rain. Today I reckon there were a few hundred.
Stops on the way home:
- The Chasm
- Homer’s tunnel
- Lake Gunn
- Russell Lupins (the wild flowers I love are actually weeds)
Frank the tank was our tour driver and he was hilariously grumpy! Loved his banter about other drivers. Except he never turned the microphone off and you could always hear him breathing and eating. We left Te Anau and I pretty much slept on and off the entire way to Queenstown. Once we arrived in Queenstown everyone had showers, to get ready for the skyline experience.
Once we arrived at the skyline I got super nervous at how ridiculously steep the Gondola was. I went up with Grace, Dan and Mike. Once at the top everyone went on the luge and I went on a photography mission. My new battery didn’t last very long and I didn’t get all the photos I wanted. The buffet was amazing! I have never seen so much food. There was fresh seafood, meat, salads, sushi, cold platters, cheeses, sauces, sweet treats and so much more. The venison was my
The buffet was amazing! I have never seen so much food. There was fresh seafood, meat, salads, sushi, cold platters, cheeses, sauces, sweet treats and so much more. The venison was my favourite followed closely by the lamb. I accidentally ate an anchovy, it was awful. Now I am so full and lying in bed is extremely uncomfortable. I hope I get a good night sleep because we have another early day tomorrow. Thankfully it’s the last of the big days!
These are some of my favourite lesser known/less commercialized places that you should visit when exploring the South Island of New Zealand.
Clay Cliff Lane
You can drive past this on the state highway and not even notice it. It isn’t until you get up close that you discover the sheer beauty and size of these clay cliffs.
To get there you will be driving on a gravel road so be prepared for that! We went in the middle of summer and only saw 4 other people on the track. It is an easy walk and you can climb right up and around the cliffs.
The Ahuriri river runs right next to the cliffs and the whole place is a photographers dreams! There’s also a hot pools about 12 minutes up the road.
The Lost Gypsy Gallery
If this is the only thing you do down south, then I can promise that you will be happy!
This place blew my mind. It is basically one massive interactive art installation. The inner child of one man and his friends who have spent years creating art that just makes you smile.
You can view the inside of the bus for free. Which gives you a small indication of what is to come. For $5 you won’t be disappointed! I don’t want to give too much away because it really is a treat once you enter the property.
While you are there, treat yourself to hot chocolate because they are delicious.
People tend to opt for the Blue Pools because it is so famous. This is the other end of that river.
It is less crowded, easy to access, a beautiful drive and photography heaven.
There are a lot of mosquitos here during summer so be sure to bring some bug repellent and something to swim in!
Queenstown is a tourist hotspot, but if you continue driving around the lake and past Queenstown you are going to experience one of the best drives in the country!
While there be sure to check out the infamous red shed, walk the blue lagoon loop track, stay at Mrs. Wolly’s campground and just explore!
I will definitely be going back here sometime soon.
If you visit this spot you will be able to say you have visited the top of the South Island.
The view is breathtaking and there was no one around as we explored the different lookout points.
If you drive further along you can even ride horses along the beach.
Nugget Point Lighthouse
Driving the Catlins is an absolute must!
Nugget Point Lighthouse is just one of the stops along the way. You park up and walk along the track – which at certain times of the year, you might be lucky enough to see some seals and penguins.
Then you can walk all around the Lighthouse and feel the power of a southerly wind.
Milford sound is extremely commercialized. Yes, it is worth doing, but be prepared that it is very very rare to get a clear day.
What people don’t realize is how much there is to stop and see when driving to Milford.
If you see lots of cars pulled over, then pull over too. You won’t be disappointed!
*A Queenstown local told us that Doubtful Sound is the better one to do. It’s bigger but just less commercial. Let me know if you have done both and what your opinion is.
January 2nd, 2017
Dunedin to Bluff
Highlight: The gypsy bus
Lowlight: The massive walk back from Cathedral Caves
I don’t want to leave the hotel. I had one of those sleeps where you wake up and only felt like you just put your head down. I got up at 6:30 to do my hair and feel fresh (not to sure why I bothered, it is drizzling and looking like it’s going to get worse). 8am and we are off to early start (after having to wake Grace up because she forgot to set an alarm, such a Hufflepuff). Our first stop is Nugget Point Lighthouse.
The others are all doing the Cadbury factory tour in Dunedin, then going to Baldwin street and the Six60 house. I am gutted to miss out on those things, but I figure the natural landmarks are more rewarding. Feeling pretty shattered today. Trying to stay awake on the drive to keep Mike alert.
The road to Nugget Point was windy and gravel. The cool thing was, we were driving along the cost for a while. It looked pretty rugged for the east coast, there were lots of rocks jutting out from the sand. It was a 900m walk to the lighthouse (hills of course) and on the way, we saw a penguin and tons of seals. The view was awesome, but the wind was insane. I got so nervous getting my phone out, I thought it was going to blow away out of my hand.
We decided to skip the waterfall because we spent so much time at the lighthouse. The weather is looking pretty dicey, hopefully, it holds off just a little bit longer.
Omg! We found the green gypsy bus and it was the greatest thing ever. It was basically just an
ADHD kids paradise. You could play with everything that this artist had created. It was all hooked up with circuits, lights, and sounds. I loved the piano – every key was hooked up to a different thing that made a sound. The electric toothbrush and old radio made cool sounds. When we first arrived Grace pushed this button and got squirted in the face. A very well spent $5 – the hot chocolate I got was good too.
When we arrived at Cathedral Caves we quickly realized we should have been there earlier. The place was packed and we only had an hour to explore due to the tide coming in. The walk down was killer (the walk back up was worse). We got to the cave and the water was just below knee height. We went inside and had a little explore before boosting it out of there before we got trapped – I mean boosting, I had to run and I got soaked as this wave smoked us.
Grace, Mike and I had a little picnic lunch in the sun which was so nice. Grace made us sandwiches with our yummy Ferg-baker bread. Not sure where the others are, but they never showed up. Off to Invercargill!
We stopped in and got some alcohol before going to the campground. I was so surprised how crazy cheap alcohol here is. I got some Malibu! Delicious…makes me miss puppy though. We did a big van clean up and got all sorted for the next few days, before adventuring off to Bluff. We detoured to one of mum’s rental properties which was an absolute dive. Bluff was windy…and I mean extreme wind. We had an early dinner at this amazing restaurant on the water. It looked like you were dining on a boat because all you could see was the ocean. The food was okay. It was a typical expensive restaurant, more money, and less food.
We left bluff to head up the hill to the lookout tower. As we were driving away we realized we hadn’t even got to the top. Whoops! Too tired and cold. We decided it was finally time change up the cars so we had an all girls car. It was great. We went and got petrol and dessert supplies to make a feast while we play hearts in the common room. I came 2nd! So close. I wish I was tired, but I’m not. Tomorrow will be rough.
January 1st, 2017
Wanaka to Dunedin
Highlight: The view from Tunnel beach
Lowlight: Not seeing any penguins!
It’s only going to take 2 months of writing this to get it right! Started the day off with another 500m walk to the toilet (won’t be missing that).
We set off early to try and beat the RNA traffic. We made a pit stop at the Cardrona Hotel for Courtenay and Aiden to grab their hidden alcohol and of course for a photo opportunity. It’s such a cute hotel with an amazing outdoor area. I would love to stay here in the middle of winter sometime.
Before hitting the road to Dunedin we stopped by Puzzle Word and retrieved our hidden alcohol (stoked it was still there). The drive to Dunedin was long. I am so surprised with how exhausting the driving is, and I am only being the passenger. The wind was gnarly and it was quite sketchy being blown around the road. We stopped in Alexandria and started the year off with dirty KFC in a park. Well the girls did, the boys went healthy and got subway (losers).
Arriving in Dunedin was beautiful. The buildings are really old and funky looking. The whole city sits among the hills surrounding the harbor. It looks like an awesome place to live. Dan, Mike and I drove around the Otago Peninsula to get to Lanarch Castle. I loved the history behind the castle and especially climbing to the top of the turret to enjoy the views.
We then decided to mission it to the top of the peninsula to try and see some yellow-eyed penguins, seals, and albatross. I saw an albatross as we first pulled up and their wingspan is massive. There were some seals on the rocks, but mostly it was stinky seagulls squawking around. We ran out of time and didn’t get to see any penguins (this is becoming a bit of a theme for the trip, and it’s making me sad).
Once we got back to the hotel we met up with Grace and had a drink at Mac’s Brew Bar. Malibu and Cole nom nom nom! Then we wandered off down to the train station to be tourists. Did I mention how beautiful the buildings are here? The city center is pretty deserted today (obviously not a New Years hotspot). Lots of restaurants are closed and there is hardly anyone about. Thankfully Velvet Burger was open. I got the ‘Big Bird’ which had chicken, bacon, brie, apricot sauce and tons of other goodness. We ate our burgers in the middle of the octagon and it was an amazingly chill dinner after a long day.
Time for tunnel beach! 9 pm and we decide we want to see this infamous beach. Little did we know it was an hour long trek involving a high level of fitness. I made it about halfway down before I gave up. I got some awesome pics though. Mike went right down and walked along the top, he even climbed down these natural steps, through a cave and onto the beach (I was pretty jealous of this). The wind was still crazy strong and big black clouds were rolling in fast). After the beach, we sorted our petrol for tomorrow’s adventures. Grace, Mike and I chilled in our hotel and some drinks to take the edge off.
I was a bit grumpy today. Little things were bothering me and I shouldn’t have let them. Lying in bed at the hotel is life!
December 31st, 2016
Rhythm and Alps
Highlight: Dancing on the stump with Grace to young Tapz and meeting Charlie, Shazza, and his entourage.
Lowlight: The douchebag in the crowd that made me super down buzz
It’s New Year’s Eve!
This time last year I was in Waikawau bay and it was windy, cold and the rain was coming. I feel like the odds of having a fantastic night are much higher this year. I woke up at about 7 am and took the 500m walk to the worlds most disgusting portaloos. I then decided that being up at 7 am was too hard and went back to sleep till 10.
Today was a pretty chill day. We just sat around, ate and drank for the majority of it. Courtenay and I chilled in her campervan just chatting before we decided to get ready. That was probably the best part of the day. We were cranking the beats and just having good banter.
Courtney hooked me up with some dope braids and put in my hair rings for me. I loved my hair rings but it was seriously bloody freezing! I should have worn my damn puffer. Young Tapz was great (except when Courtenay took a can to the face thanks to some douchebag). I loved dancing on the giant tree stump with Grace, probably my highlight of the night.
The next few acts were pretty bad. Six 60 played the most down buzz set and after dealing with douchebags in the crowd, Mike and I bailed out towards the exit for the countdown. Then Six60 messed up the countdown and fireworks began as they were playing. Pretty lame New Year’s Eve. I am now in bed and ready for Dunedin tomorrow.
December 30th, 2016
Glenorchy to Rhytmn and Alps
Highlight: Dancing to Dub FX while the sunset & getting drunk
Lowlight: The crew was pretty grumpy today. It was hard to remain positive.
We started the day by hitting snooze twice! That means we slept…I am a bit sore and groggy. I Straightened my hair this morning to feel slightly human. We began our day with a 40-minute walk around a lagoon in Glenorchy. It was so nice to start the day with fresh air before we spend hours upon hours in the campervan again.
We then all had a nice cooked breakfast at the Speights Invincible Bar. I had eggs Benedict (surprise surprise). From here we wandered down to the lakefront so I could get my token photo of the big red Glenorchy shed. We walked along the wharf and I video called my sister to show her the incredible views. Absolutely amazing. The dumb thing is you can’t capture the beauty in a single photo because it is so vast. Maybe time for a drone?!
We can’t-do the Shot-over jet today because there isn’t enough space, so we are going to move that to somewhere later in our trip when we come back to Queenstown. We also booked the Skyline gondola and dinner, which I’m so excited for. BUFFET! Grace and Dan have disappeared for a swim, so now we are getting organized to head to Puzzle World!
We have left Glenorchy and we got to drive that amazing road again! We made a quick stop in Queenstown and I had the most amazing pork belly pie from Ferg-Baker. We sat and ate it, in this tiny park in the middle of town. I would have liked to explore Queenstown more, but we have run out of time! Going to have to come back here for sure.
Dan decided he wanted to join us on our Puzzle World mission. 4 in the van?! Now we are getting sketchy. We picked up a bunch of supplies for RNA and loaded the campervan to the max. As we were driving out of a town an ambulance came past and we got a little sketched out about our illegal driving…so we were back to three in the front!
We drove the sketchiest road to Wanaka. It felt like we were driving to the sky. The view was definitely worth it though. Once we got to Wanaka we explored Puzzle World. We chose to do the combo, which included the illusion rooms and the maze. I loved the room that was on the tilt the best, even though it made me feel quite sick. We took some cool photos and mucked around for a bit. We then had a go at the maze, by this time it was so bloody hot that Mike and I bowed out without finding any of the colours. Grace and Dan definitely won, they annihilated the maze so quickly.
Throughout the entire day, we were really worried about sneaking liquor into the campground. We had driven
past earlier and seen cars being thoroughly searched. Me, being the stick to the rules girl I am, felt really panicked to attempt to bring stuff in. So long story short, all our bottles of spirits are currently hidden in a bush in Wanaka, waiting for our retrieval.
We finally got to RNA after another long day of driving and adventures….and you guessed it, they didn’t even search our van! All that panic for nothing. The guy at the gate did say, If he caught us with stuff we would be kicked out. Lucky Grace isn’t a chicken so we drank her hidden bottle! Woop. Once we got our campervans set up, we went on a find the toilets and shower mission. Disgusting and unsanitary. Wet wipes for us till Dunedin. The showers are public and completely open and the Toilets are a short drop. You can literally see all the piss and shit. I want to dig a hole instead. Now that we are settled in for two days, we went off to watch Ocean Alley. They were so good
Once we got our campervans set up, we went on a find the toilets and shower mission. Disgusting and unsanitary would be the nicest way to describe the facilities. Wet wipes for us till Dunedin. The showers are public and completely open and the Toilets are a portaloos drop. You can literally see everything piled up…some are even piled up above the seat itself. I want to dig a hole instead. Now that we are settled in for two days, we went off to watch Ocean Alley. They were so good
Now that we are settled in for two days, we went off to watch Ocean Alley. They were so good live! After watching them we loaded up our wrist tags with money and let the debauchery begin. There are so many amazing food trucks here, it was almost pointless stocking up on food. I had loaded fries with shredded pork on them! Delicious. After Ocean Alley finished Grace, Mike and I wandered back to the campsite to get freshened up and take shots.
I loved getting all glammed. I wore my mermaid lipstick and Grace’s flower crown. Back into the madness, we went and it was totally worth it! Dub FX was outstanding. There was something surreal about dancing drunk in the middle of a field, with complete strangers while the sun is setting. Devilskin came on and the vibe was killed! Not my cup of tea. Back to the food trucks I went. This time I got a yummy pork belly wrap (clearly addicted to pork today).
The night is done and dusted and I have headed back to the campervan to write my diary and hopefully get some sleep (Mike has already coma’d and is snoring loudly). I am surprisingly looking forward to round 2 tomorrow. I can still hear the sounds pretty loud, I wonder if I can pretend it’s the fan, I miss my fan.