We have been home for a little over a month now, and I am slowly getting around to organizing all my pics and finishing up this blog!
So without further ado…the second half of our New Zealand Road Trip.
After leaving the beautiful coastal rainforest area of the Catlins, we headed towards the wild west coast of New Zealand.
The open road
My pet rock in tow
West Coast, South Island
Our first stop on the west coast was Te Anau to hike the Kepler Track. The Kepler Track is a 60km, 3 day long hike. Since we were short on time and did not have proper trekking gear, we decided to do as much of it as we could in 1 day. We made it all the way to the summit of Mt. Luxmore, at 4,829 feet. This 11 hour, 36 km round trip hike is the hardest hike I’ve ever done. If you ever find yourself at Kepler, do yourself a favor and do not attempt in one day!
The easy part of the trail, the soft and gentle Kepler forest
Skipping rocks at Lake Manapouri
Climbing up to Mt. Luxmore
Summit of Mt. Luxmore, fjords abound!
After Te Anau, we were happy to relax and give our muscles a rest with a leisurely drive and cruise around Milford Sound.
Cruisin’ milford sound
Seals basking in the sun at Milford Sound
Getting up close and personal with the falls
After Milford Sound, we did a short section of the famous Routeburn Track. Like Kepler, Routeburn is a 3-4 day trek. We learned our lesson this time, and were in and out in a few hours.
By the time we reached Queenstown, autumn had officially hit NZ.
Giant fall trees in Queenstown
Jimmy, our hostel kitty
In Queenstown, we hiked around the aptly named “Remarkables” mountain range. A few scenes from Lord of the Rings were filmed here!
We found Lake Alta!
Emerald green Lake Alta
From Queenstown, we drove up to Glacier Land to see the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. Unfortunately, as soon as arrived in town, Cyclone Ita hit and we were without power for three days. We managed to squeeze in couple of visits to the glaciers anyway.
Fox Glacier with stormy skies overhead
The sad and shrinking Franz Josef glacier
After 3 days of gale force winds and rain in Glacier Land, we made our way to Golden Bay, my favorite place in New Zealand.
Finally some sun peaks through the rain clouds!
Blue skies in Golden Bay
A cuddly sheep
Wild and windy Warariki Beach, the coolest beach in NZ
We found this sweet pengunio at Warariki Beach
Beach at Golden Bay
Golden Bay sunset
After Golden Bay, we said goodbye to the South Island and hopped on the ferry towards Wellington.
The lively city of Wellington was a breath of fresh air after the relative isolation of the South Island. We visited the Weta Cave, met up with friends we made in India 5 months earlier, and enjoyed the Welly nightlife.
In the park overlooking Wellington
Trolls! At the Weta Cave
After Wellington, we went back into the wilderness to see the impressive Tongariro National Park. It was starting to get pretty cold in NZ by this point!
Hiking through the marshland outside Tongariro
Winter is coming…!
We then drove up to the volcanic wonderland of Rotorua. Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity - hot thermal baths, bubbling mud pits, and steamy geysers. The entire area has a sulphuric rotten egg smell, try to imagine as you look at the pics!
Basking in the sulphuric steam vents of Rotorua!
An unholy steaming lake
Leaning trees of Rotorua
Testing the waters despite the warnings
Perfect place for a swim
Our last stop in New Zealand was the invigorating Coromandel Peninsula. We saw gentle coastlines and giant kauri and redwood trees. It was wonderful to breathe in the fresh air — no rotten egg smells here!
New Zealand is certainly one of the most beautiful places on earth. We hope to return to this paradise some day!