Around the South Island

I decided to head south from Christchurch, and ended up in a tiny place called Moeraki. Another traveler had told me about the light house there, and about a penguin colony. As it turned out I got there at the wrong time of day and they had all headed off. But quite a number of seals had stayed behind and were lazily lying on the rocks by the water.

Lazy Seal

Curious Seal

I had arranged to meet someone with a car; we would do a fast tour around the south of the South Island. He arrived by mid-morning, and we headed off to Dunedin, the second-biggest city on the island. It was a very nice place with some nice pieces of architecture. Apparently Christchurch had looked similar before it had been hit by a devastating earthquake…


One thing Dunedin is famous for: It has the steepest city-street in the world. And it was steep, for sure; so steep that they had put in steps instead of a sidewalk! We drove up it (in first gear!) and I could feel like a proper tourist.

Steepest road in Dunedin

Being silly on the world's steepest road

On we went, on a scenic highway through the Catlins – a beautiful area in the south-east: A rough coastline transitions into a tranquil landscape of grassy hills, where sheep outnumber human – probably by the hundred!

The Catlins

Late in the evening we arrived in Bluff, the official (but not actual) south tip of the South Island. Not much to see there, except for a yellow sign tree telling everyone who made their way there in the cutting rain (so only us) the distances to various far-off places.

Sign in Bluff

What an eventful day – it is so much more efficient to explore a country by car! But then, does it need to be efficient?

Day 2 turned out to be a lot more relaxed: While my companion went on an all-day fjord cruise I decided to give one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” a try: the Kepler-trail. More than 50km long, I did not go the whole way, but I made it to the first hut, which gave me a nice first impression of the NZ mountains. The only complaint: It really was a “walk” and not a hike – steps, boardwalks and broad trails took away most of the challenges that this landscape would have provided otherwise…

Kepler Trail

Kepler Trail

The next day we stayed in Queenstown, the outdoor and adventure-tourist’s capital. I did not make use of any of the overpriced adrenaline-offers but rather went for a hike up to a viewpoint overlooking the town, and from there on to a proper mountaintop, Ben Lomond.

View of Queenstown

Above Queenstown

Since I did not leave there till almost sunset, most of the return trip was in the dark (the knowledge that there are no snakes or other potentially harmful creatures lurking in the dark here on New Zealand made it a really pleasant walk though).

View from Ben Lomond

The last day of our shared adventure brought us past a wonderful old hotel to Wanaka, a much quieter (and probably even more beautiful) mountain town than Queenstown, also build on the shore of a calm lake.

Cordona Hotel

Lakeshore in Wanaka

In the late afternoon our ways parted, and I got a ride to the country’s highest mountain, Mount Cook, where I found a nice place under the stars, and spent the next day exploring…

Suspension bridge

Moraine, Mt Cook in the background

Mueller Hut

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