The South Island, Part 2 // New Zealand

Ocean, lake and rainforest all in one.

After an absolutely breathtaking experience at Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers, we continued heading south along the west coast towards the town of Haast.  The landscape along this part of New Zealand’s coast is absolutely spectacular with the Tasman Sea smashing into the rocky banks and wind ripping along the beach.

This is a favorite nesting spot of some local penguins!
One of awesome short tramping loops on the way to Haast.

Unfortunately, when we arrived in Haast, we didn’t have the opportunity to continue south towards Jackson Bay, but instead turned east and headed through Haast Pass towards Wanaka. This part of the drive was a great time as we stopped every 20-30 minutes to venture off on short 10-15 minute hikes off the main roadway to some spectacular waterfalls and landscapes.  Luckily for us, we had had some short, but seriously intense rainstorms that ensured the falls were pounding.

One of our favorite unmarked waterfalls along the route to Haast Pass.
Roaring Billy Falls
More beautiful falls along the route.
Last one, I swear!
It’s not all magnificent waterfalls, there’s also incredible water at Blue Pools!

After a number of short hikes we were ready to wind down and spend some time relaxing by the campervan with a glass of New Zealand Pinot Noir!  Our amazing camping spot along the Hawea River just before getting into Wanaka was perfect for a bit of solitude with nature.

Our secluded camp site along the Hawea River outside of Wanaka.
Relaxing along the Hawea River.  The Pinot is masterfully hidden from view.

Wanaka was a really fun town that we had wished we had more time to explore.  Like many places in New Zealand, it had its share of hip cafes with great food and even better coffee, and is also the location of a Challenge Family full-distance triathlon that Jaime and I are promising we’ll come back to do at some point. Just outside of Wanaka we came along a Lavendar Farm with the ONLY friendly sheep we saw our entire time in New Zealand. Jaime loved all the sheep in New Zealand if it “weren’t for their bad attitudes.” Ha! Loved these guys.

One of our friends from the Lavendar Farm
And yet another friend that we hand fed clover. 

On the way to Lake Tekapo we detoured a short bit in Omarama to visit these incredible ribboned rock cliffs and spent an hour or so venturing off on our own among the cliffs.  It is one of these natural wonders that makes you wonder how anything like this was created.

The ribboned rocks at Omarama.
From inside the “cathedral”

Finally, we headed to Lake Tekapo where we would spend the night marveling at the incredibly blue water and stared for hours at the immense night sky.

Amazed at how blue this water was…recurring theme.
From our gorgeous hike along Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo panorama

Our camp site and fire next to Lake Tekapo
New Zealand’s got sunsets for days!

These few days were remarkable and a time that we’ll remember vividly for quite a while.


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