New Zealand: Best places in South Island
When I was living in Wellington, New Zealand, I had a lot of time to travel around. To be honest, traveling was all I did. NZ has so many places to visit that the choice of where to go is really hard to make.
Even though I was living in the North Island, I ended up visiting a lot more in the South, probably because the South Island is known for having the most beautiful places in the country. I went there three different times, first I rented a Camper Van, then I did everything by bus and the last time I rented a car. All of the options are good, but the van is definitely the most fun.
At first it’s scary to drive on the wrong side of the road (like London), but as long as it’s an automatic car, you’re good-to-go! I guess the distances are not that far, but the roads are very windy and it takes time to get anywhere. Plus, you always want to pull over every five minutes because amazing landscapes show up at every second and you HAVE to take pictures.
One of the must do’s is Milford Sound, it’s very touristic and everyone goes, but there’s a reason for that, its absolutely amazing. I went there twice, once with good weather and another with clouds 1 meter from my sight; and it’s cool ’cause it’s like a complete different place, but always fascinating!
Also, visiting the south island should be done both in the summer and in the winter. In the winter it’s cool because everything is covered in snow and when it’s sunny it’s awesome as well, there’s daylight until 11pm and the sunsets are magic.
Queenstown is basically a place for fun. There you can do all sorts of sports and crazy adventures, including a very high bungee jump – probably the highest in the world. Plus, it’s a very good place to go out, there’s a lot of parties happening all the time.
Also, I went skiing in Mount Hutt. Not a very good place to ski by the way, it has about 10 slopes and they’re like 10 meters long. But anyway, it’s above the clouds so it’s cool, when you’re going up you actually go through them. On the way there, I passed by a cool lake, Tekapo Lake which is a cool place to have lunch, I cooked (which hardly ever happens) in the van.
The other famous cities are Christchurch and Dunedin, which should be called villages instead, you can go across town just by walking 20 minutes. In Dunedin there’s the steepest road I’ve ever seen, which is actually the one and only touristic attraction around there. It also has a nice beach. I was in Christchurch before and after the earthquake, it used to have a nice church in the center, which got destroyed, but I’m sure by now it’s already rebuilt.
If you ever go to NZ, I’d say the best thing to do is grab a car/van and just drive until you get lost, that’s when you find the best things to see. It’s not really the cities/villages that will make you love the place, it’s the nature, the landscapes, the Kiwis, the people you meet in the hostels and camping sites, the beaches, the sports and of course the typical crazy nights out in small towns!