Monday, 31 December 2012

The Simple Things in Life: A Road Trip Around New Zealand

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

April 2012
Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki
It was day two of our New Zealand family holiday, and everything in our world was perfect.  The sun was high in the cloudless sky, the air was crisp and clean and the brilliant azure waters of Lake Pukaki stretched out towards the majestic snow-capped peaks of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps.   The only two sounds disrupting this peaceful spot were the call of the hawk circling high above and the squeals of delight coming from my four year old son as he challenged my husband to a stone skimming competition across the lake. 

With 8 nights and a fairly small budget, my family and I had taken to the road to experience what us New Zealanders affectionately refer to as ‘The Great Kiwi Road Trip’.   
Bealey Bridge in Arthur's Pass
My husband, Scott, and I are born and breed kiwis and well-seasoned travellers.  However, it wasn’t until recent years that we really started exploring what has always been on our own doorstep, and that which we had always taken for granted.    With much conviction, we can now say that a holiday in New Zealand rivals any of the holidays we have had around the world. 

Arthur's Pass
It is easy to run out of superlatives as you drive around the countryside.  The scenery presents itself to you like a postcard and within just a few hours of driving, the landscape can change from wild, rugged coastline to high alpine peaks.  Or lush green rainforests open up to become wide waterfall-covered valleys.  It is our love for these surroundings that we are eager to share with our young son, Oskar.

It might be quite a few years before Oskar is able to fully appreciate the same things about this country that we do - he claims his favourite moment of the whole trip was feeding grass to a miniature horse.  Yet it is fair to say that children are still capable of being entertained by the small things in life.  It is also fair to say, that on this trip, all three of us had an equally wonderful time.

To truly get a taste of the best that the South Island have to offer, travellers would need a minimum of 2 weeks.  But with just 9 days up our sleeve, we decided to start and finish in Christchurch, doing a loop that encompassed Aoraki/Mt Cook, Queenstown, The Glacier Region, Arthur's Pass and all stunning areas in between.  We were also on a mission to make it to Wanaka for the Biennial Warbirds Show; a long term ambition of Scott's.  
Fantail Falls in Mt Aspiring National Park

The saying, “the journey is more important than the destination”,  has never been truer than when travelling around the South Island Of New Zealand.  Driving through these untouched landscapes, where it appears time has stood still for millions of years, the days never felt like they were dragging. We did an average of about 3 hours driving each day, which never once became a burden on Oskar.  We were never in a rush, we stopped regularly at roadside cafes and picturesque lookouts, and we took to the bush often to stretch our legs and admire the beautiful rivers and waterfalls hidden amongst the trees.   With some prior research on the DOC (Department of Conservation) website, I was prepared with a multitude of family-friendly bushwalks, most of which were under 30 minutes return, some as short as five.  

Stone Sculptures at the Blue Pools of Haast Pass
 A holiday driving around New Zealand, admiring beautiful scenery, may not be the first thing most people think of when imagining the perfect, child-friendly, getaway.   Yet, seeing Oskar get such pleasure from pointing out birds and insects in the bush, splashing around near the base of a waterfall or building towers out of smooth stream-weathered stones, brings a whole new meaning to the old adage; the best things in life really are free.  

Gillespies Beach

My Holiday Highlights

Taking a quiet moment to sit at the window of our Aoraki/Mt Cook accommodation and enjoy the spectacular view.

Watching Oskar dance in Arrowtown's Autumn leaves

The stunning Lake Matheson walk

Scott's Holiday Highlights

Driving the road into Aoraki/Mt Cook

Oskars Holiday Highlight

Feeding the miniature horses at our Franz Josef accommodation 

Final Words 

 Photographs of New Zealand say more than I ever could.
Cute Miromiro
Lake Dunstan in Cromwell
Lake Dunstan
Peter's Pool near Franz Josef Glacier

Lake Brunner

Lake Pearson

Lake Pearson

Chairlift up to the Queenstown Luge

Final trip count - 1711km