The next part of our awesome road trip around the breathtaking South Island of New Zealand begins in the resort town of Queenstown, pictured above, where we rested our thighs after hiking around the dramatic Mount Cook National Park. In Part 1 of our New Zealand blog series, Erin praised the picturesque quality of New Zealand’s landscape and called it “a photographer’s dream”. But I first became enchanted with New Zealand when I learned that it was a motorcycle touring paradise! It was this passage in Motorcycle Consumer News that sparked my interest:
If Mother Theresa had been a motorcyclist, when she died she would have gone to the South Island of New Zealand. This island country the size of Colorado has majestic, snow-capped mountains, scrub-dotted savannah, endless sandy beaches, breathtaking waterfalls, towering fiords, volcanoes, turquoise lakes, thermal pools, tumultuous river rapids and enormous glaciers. Now… install twisty roads containing every type of corner you can possibly imagine. Pave the roads with a lava-based material that provides almost unbelievable adhesion. Add in a population density so low it is possible to ride for hours and see only a half dozen other motorists…. If that’s not motorcycle heaven, I’m not sure what is.
Although we didn’t actually travel New Zealand by motorcycle, I definitely longed for one as we made our way along gorgeous roads like this one, on the way out of Queenstown:
I still dream of touring New Zealand by motorcycle… one day. :) But Erin and I actually took in the roads and the scenery aboard an orange Spaceship Campervan like the one you see above. It served as our transportation and accommodation for the entire two-week trip! From Queenstown, we headed southwest, toward the remote lake-side town of Te Anau. Once the sun set, we were once again treated to a vast and awe-inspiring star-filled sky!
When the sun rose again, we continued on the windy road for the two and a half-hour drive north to the world-heritage listed Fiordlands National Park. On the way, we climbed up in elevation to snow-covered peaks before heading back down toward the sea.
When we emerged at the famous Milford Sound, it seemed we were extraordinarily lucky to have some gorgeous sunny days in an area notorious for being the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world!
With an average rainfall of almost 7 meters (over 22 feet), it’s no wonder the landscape is so dramatic, with lush rainforests clinging precariously to shear rock mountains rising 1200 meters (3,900 feet) out of the sea and gushing with waterfalls.
We explored the fiord first by boat and then by kayak. We even managed to cover some of the vast distances by sailing! We linked kayaks and rigged up an impromptu sail by using our oars as masts and letting the wind do all the work!
Aside from Milford Sound, we also enjoyed some short walks around the fiordlands and experienced the rainforests and alpine regions close up.
We were delighted to see some colourful (and apparently very smart) Keas, a large species of parrot found only in the South Island of New Zealand.
On the way to the rugged west coast, we first had to go back inland through what appeared to be Middle Earth! We didn’t encounter any hobbits or orcs, but the scenery around the town of Wanaka sure was reminiscent of the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy!
And finally, we were at the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, where our adventures will continue in Part 3. But first, here are some shots of the picturesque Lake Matheson.
Check back soon for Part 3 of our New Zealand adventure. And let us know what you think in the comments!