So you might have thought that I disappeared, but I didn't. I have just been enjoying beautiful New Zealand. I spent a couple of days with Amanda and Shawn in Christchurch and then we went off in different directions. Amanda and Shawn went North towards the Kaikoura Peninsula and Matt and I went West towards Arthur's Pass. Check out our pictures and read about our adventures below.
The red line is the route that we took on our adventure around the south island of New Zealand.
**Day 1: **Collect our camper van (a van with a bed and kitchen in it ---so cool) in Christchurch and head across the south island towards the town of Greymouth. We stopped along the way to do some hiking in Arthur's Pass.
I loved our camper van. It had a bed, refrigerator, microwave, sink, stove, and lots of storage. It was a cheap and fun way to see the country.
While in Arthur's Pass we did two hikes, one to a waterfall and one to a little glacier.
**Day 2: **Drive up North to Punakaiki to see the pancake rocks, the blowholes, and a fur seal colony. Then we drove back South to Franz Joseph to see the rainforest and glaciers there.
The pancake rocks were named for the thin layers of stacked rocks that make up the coastline in Punakaiki. The Tasman Sea in the background was angry with the strong winds that day.
We saw fur seals throughout our trip on the coastlines of both the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean.
Day 3: We took a long hike up the valley to get a good look at the Franz Joseph Glacier. It took us about six hours and he had a lot of fun climbing rocks, crossing swinging bridges, walking through streams, and enjoying all of the rainforest plants. When we were done we drove down to Wanaka.
Our hike to the Franz-Joseph Glacier was awesome. The trail went up and down through the rainforest and it was so beautiful.
After 3 hours of hiking, we made it to an overlook that looked down onto the Franz-Joseph Glacier. Even though I had just spent a lot of time with glaciers in Antarctica, it was cool to see a glacier while walking through a rainforest…crazy.
In the temperate rainforests of the west coast everything is covered in moss and the plant life is so diverse.
Day 4: We enjoyed the hot pools in Wanaka and then made our way down to Queenstown to explore the city and have Thanksgiving dinner.
It was a windy day in Wanaka and the lake had some pretty good waves.
Day 5: After a night in a beautiful bed and breakfast and a break from our camper van, we drove to Milford Sound and got on a boat to see the amazing fjord and all the animals that live there.
Hanging out on the bow of the boat looking for animals on our cruise down Milford Sound.
On our cruise we came across a pod of bottlenose dolphins. I was so surprised because I had no idea that dolphins even lived in the fjord.
Day 6: We spent another day exploring the fjordlands and we went for a hike to Key Summit to get a better view of the mountains.
This Kea was looking for food and swooped over my head and almost landed on me before finally landing on our Cruiza. After it harassed us it tried to get into someone's car. Keas are known for shredding tents and sleeping bags in search for food. Silly birds.
The Eglington River Valley was so beautiful that it made we want to do a cartwheel.
**Day 7: **We drove all the way to the other side of the island to the town of Oamaru on a mission to finally see penguins.
In our search for a penguin we found a fur seal taking a nap on a rock.
After weeks of looking for a penguin in Antarctica, I finally saw a penguin in Antarctica. It was a yellow-eyed penguin and is considered to be one of the world's rarest species of penguin with only 4,000 remaining.
Day 8: We drove back to Christchurch to return our rental car (I will miss our Cruiza) and made some stops along the coast on our way.
Matt and I took a break from driving to walk down the beach and enjoy the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
These unusual boulders were along the beach and were cool because of their almost perfect spherical shape. The local Maori people have a lot of legends for how they think they got there.
Matt took a break on one of the boulders and was doing his best seal impression.
After my trip to New Zealand, I would HIGHLY recommend it as a travel destination. It was beautiful, there was a lot to do, the people were really nice, the food was good, and it wasn't that expensive. If you ever have the opportunity to go, take it.