New Zealand: A South Island Photo Diary
Planning a trip to New Zealand?
New Zealand was my first country on my round the world trip and a very memorable one. I wanted to share photos from my time on the on the South Island. Besides Nelson in the north, I visited Christchurch and then headed south to Queenstown and Milford Sound in February of 2011.
After visiting my friends in Nelson, I took the Intercity bus to Christchurch. On the way to Christchurch, we drove by a town called Kaikoura and I wish that I had known about it. We stopped for a bathroom break but just a quick glimpse made me want to stay for a few days. It was beautiful! From the bus, I saw that you could go skydiving or whale watching there. Something about it stuck in my mind since it was so picturesque. I guess that’s something for the itinerary the next time I go to New Zealand’s South Island!
I was only in Christchurch for a night so I picked a hostel that was centrally located. The city doesn’t seem so big so I walked around and explored. I went to Christchurch Cathedral. The crazy thing is, the cathedral was damaged as was much of the city, just weeks after I was there, by the big earthquake. I was Auckland when the quake happened and it was all over the news. I remember my Mom messaging me frantically to see if I was okay. While I was on my trip natural disasters were just a few steps behind me. I think sheer randomness and luck kept me away from any harm.
Christchurch Cathedral (just a few days before the earthquake)
Inside Christchurch Cathedral
I love flowers so I visited the Christchurch Botanical Garden and took photos for my (now late) Mom who was a gardener and green thumb.
I stopped and smelled the New Zealand roses!
Mom loved dahlias so I took photos to email her
You don’t see these much anymore. Throwback phone booth and a red one to boot!
When I was on the South Island, my original plan was to take the bus to Queenstown from Christchurch. But luckily I compared prices and found a flight on Jetstar that was nearly the same price. It was a difference of $10 so I chose to fly rather for one hour than take a 12-hour bus ride. Sometimes it’s worth it to compare flight prices!! Always shop around!
I love Queenstown a lot. It is so picturesque and it reminds me of Whistler, Canada. Both are mountain resort towns with loads of adventurous activities to partake in.
Gorgeous around Lake Wakatipu
I’d love to go back again, maybe even in the winter and get some snowboarding in.
At the Queenstown Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden Bridge
If you go to Queenstown you have to have a Fergburger. It was tasty!! Just remember they call ketchup tomato sauce in New Zealand and Australia! I’d love to go back and try out more of the different options. I remember the names were pretty cheeky and the veggie burger was even called Bun Laden.
This Asian was missing Asian food while traveling through New Zealand. When I was in Queenstown, I walked by Hikari Izakaya and saw that they had a lunch special so I couldn’t resist. I didn’t really remember my meal till I found this photo on my hard drive but if you’re needing a rice or noodle fix while you’re in Queenstown, go here.
Hikari Izakaya lunch bento box
While I was on the South Island, I took a day trip down to Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a fiord in Fiordland National Park in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. I wanted to go there for a few days but I didn’t have a car and wasn’t sure what I would do down there if I didn’t have a car. Things are not cheap in New Zealand, so a bus day trip it was. The day trip and ferry for an hour and a half into the sound was over $100. Pretty pricey but worth it in the end. A lot of decisions I made while I was in New Zealand was about money. Traveling solo costs a bit more and I was also at the beginning of my RTW so I was extra cautious about how I spent my money and trying to conserve when I could.
I took this snap from inside the Naked Bus (a bus company that is now defunct) that I took from Queenstown to Milford Sound. It’s another view of Lake Wakatipu. Pretty gorgeous from all sides!
Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s longest lake and third largest
On the way to Milford Sound, we stopped at The Chasm Walk. It’s two-foot bridges over Cleddau River where you can see waterfalls. Over thousands of years, the water has shaped the rock. Two-foot bridges over the Cleddau River give you beautiful views of the powerful waterfalls. It’s like water torture in nature!
The Chasm Walk
We stopped at a place called Mirror Lakes on the way to Milford Sound. It’s so serene and beautiful there.
It’s amazing that there’s nothing else around
We stopped at one lookout point and I forgot the name. Horrible, I know. But the thing I remember the most was seeing an alpine parrot. What? Yes, a mountain parrot.
He would be totally camo!
When we got to Milford Sound we loaded onto a ferry that took us around the sound. I believe it was only an hour and a half exploration through the fiords. If the weather was sunny I’d have wanted to go for longer but this amount of time was perfect. The weather determines what it will be like in Milford Sound. When we went it was rainy so there were loads of waterfalls. Initially, I was bummed by rain but looking back it was quite cool and mystical.
Chasing waterfalls much to TLC’s dismay
And a not so great selfie but one to prove to my family that I was indeed traveling
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