New Zealand – Christchurch and a road trip in the South Island (28 February – 9 March)

We had chosen Christchurch for a longer stay as Jaanus’ friend Mikk and his wife Karen live there for many years. The first days we rested and lived in. We went to the city center and visited the museum and drove around with Lime electric scooters.

One of the top moments in Christchurch was definitely the sauna that Mikk and his friends had built in a caravan – we went to the sauna many times and, due to the mobility of the sauna, we drove to the riverside where it was nice to dip into the river after sauna.

One day with Mikk and his friend Virge we visited nearby caves. Namely, the cave is almost 600 m long and a river flows through. It took about 40 minutes to pass through the cave and to pass it, we had to walk in the water which sometimes was as high as hips. Although the water was relatively cold, we got used to it quickly, because going through the cave in itself raised the adrenaline level quite high. Cave hike was one of the most interesting things we have done so far during our trip. It was quite scary when there was darkness around you, ice cold water under your feet and no lights at the end can be seen.

On the way back, we also visited the nearby wind-shaped rock formations.

Mikk also introduced us to other Estonians who live in Christchurch, and we spent many times together in sauna, barbecue or hanging around. Together we ate good and best local food, including of course sheep, seafood and red beet burger. Not to mention the famous New Zealand pies.

Mikk also allowed us to use our car so that we could discover the southern island more thoroughly. Over the three days, we visited Nelson, Golden Bay, Able Tasman National Park, Pancake Cliffs, Pupu Springs, Hokitika, and Devils Punchbowl. To see it all, we had to drive over 1200 km.

The goal of the first day was to reach Nelson. There, Monika waited for us. She has been living in NZ for 15 years in New Zealand. We got friends with his family and especially excited about our visit was Monika Dog Charlie. Monika’s home is in a wonderful place and our bedroom had a direct view of the bay. We felt so at home in Nelson that we decided to go back there next night.

On the second day, we took a short trip to Abel Tasman National Park, which is also considered one of the most beautiful in New Zealand. There is also one of the most famous hiking trails that many tourists love. It takes 4 days for them to cross the Abel Tasman hiking trail. Unfortunately, we didn’t have so much time, so we chose one of the short parts in hiking trails that allowed us to do a circle. However, when we arrived, it turned out that some parts of the trails were closed due to forest fires. So we only had to settle for an hour’s walk to the nearby beach.

In fact, this kind of thing also worked well for us, because it left us enough time to visit the sources of Pupu springs and the Golden Bay. At the Pupu springs, there was a funny situation because we hoped we could swim and snorkel there. Namely, these springs are considered to be one of the cleanest waters in the world. Snorkling mask in our hand, the tourists next to us asked if we were going to go swimming. They explained that it is very strictly forbidden because it is a sacred place and it is not even possible to touch the source water. So we packed the mask to our backpack to feel less embarrassed and just admire the beautiful view.

The Golden Bay is home to well-known New Zealand Hippie villages, the local bohemian gathering place. At the top of the Golden Bay, you can also see seal colonies. Unfortunately, we didn’t see hippies or seals. The ride along the coast was beautiful, but the magic of that place was somehow not reached by us …

In the evening, we returned to Nelson, where we made a small picnic on the beach. We then bought the red wine from the store and knocked again on Monika’s door, who welcomed us with a smile.

On the third day, we started off to the west coast. We decided this morning that today we will take on some hitchhikers so that our own hitchhiking luck will not turn in the future. We took two Dutch girls from Nelson in the morning who were also backpackers and quite flexible on their way to Hokitika.

As our journey was matching for them, we spent the whole day together. We made some stops along the way to see something or to admire some sights. Perhaps the most important thing is to mention the pancake stones, which are very famous all over the world because no one can explain how they have become like this.

As soon as we arrived at the Hokitika valley, it began to rain. Hokitika is famous for the surrounding mountains and the beautiful river flowing there. Hokitika also has several hiking trails.

We were pretty sad to leave the girls out there in the rain camping, but what to do ..this is what they wanted. We continued and we did not have the mood for a long trip anymore with so much rain. We were looking for a place to stay overnight and we spent the night in the car because it rained so much and didn’t want to put up the tent. This remembered us our euro trip and friend Passat.

On the last day of the journey, the weather didn’t get any better. We had to travel over the Arthurs pass, which partly overlaps with the famous railway through the mountains. The views were beautiful despite the bad weather. On the way back we made one stop at the Devils Punchbowl. To see the waterfall we had to climb up the stairs an about 15 minutes. Seeing the waterfall was definitely worth the effort. Pictures speak more than a thousand words.

The same caves, where we visited with Mikk and Virge, were once again on the way home. If there had been a little warmer weather, we would most likely take the cave trip again.

By the evening we came back to Christchurch nicely, and of course, we waited for a hot sauna that evening. We enjoyed a genuine Estonian sauna until we could.

The day before we went with Mikk and Karen we went to Akaroa where we had to have the best Fish and Chips on the island and Akaroa is also just a very beautiful and lovely village. Fish was great and there were more chips than we could eat. We liked how this all was served – just wrapped on the paper.

On the way to there, we also visited a farmers market where we had some good food for a breakfast.

It’s hard to summarise our adventures in New Zealand. Perhaps our emotions are best taken up by the fact that someday we want to come back here. We saw something for three weeks, but we still missed a lot. And one real longer hike we still have to do in one good day in New Zealand. We hope that next time we will have more luck with the weather;)

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