After our nice night in Christchurch, we headed to the airport to try and rent a car. We were successful, and are now touring the South Island in our little red car! Driving on the left side was really scary at first because I was always second guessing myself and I needed to concentrate a lot, but it got easier really quick. I am much more confident now and I don’t need to think quite as much. The roads are narrow and winding here, even the state motorways, so you need to pay attention all the time anyhow.
Day 1 with the car brought us down the east coast to Lake Tekapo. I was really excited to get there, since I’ve had a picture of it as the background on my phone for the last year. The super blue water appeared out of nowhere and we were amazed right away. There were tons of brightly coloured lupins all around the lake too, which made all the colours stand out even more. The plan was to stay there for the night, but all the hostels were full, so we booked into one further along the way in middle of nowhere Omarama. It ended up being a working merino sheep and cattle farm, with a big farm house up on the hill with a great view. We stayed in the farm house with the owner Tony and about 10 other guests. The dinner table conversation was great, and so was the wine! It was great to be in a homey atmosphere again.
We took off the next morning headed towards Dunedin. Along the way, we stopped at Moeraki Beach, home to the Moeraki Boulders, which are large, spherical “concreations” of calcium/magnesium precipitate that formed on the bottom of the sea floor millions of years ago and then eroded out of the cliffs that back the beach. They were pretty neat, and it was a great afternoon for a walk on the beach. It wasn’t too far to Dunedin after that. We checked into our hostel, which turned out to be an old hospital and had lots of plants and quirky signs all over the place. We had a big window in our room and even a TV! It didn’t take us long to figure out that Dunedin is a very hilly city. It’s even home to the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street. We took a walk up it, and watched a little car struggle up as well. My calves will tell you that it was indeed very steep. The next day didn’t bring the best weather, but that didn’t stop us from heading to Tunnel Beach. The walk was a steep downhill on the way there, heading towards awesome cliff views and blue water, leading you through a tunnel that goes straight through the cliff down to the little cove with a nice beach on it. It was really windy out, but the cove was really sheltered and warm. There were big, well-worn rocks on the beach that were pretty fun to climb on. Some of my favourite pictures from the trip so far come from this beach. That evening, we headed out to the Otago Peninsula to Sandfly Bay to try to catch a glimpse of some Yellow-Eyed penguins. They return from the water and waddle up the beach just before dusk, so we aimed to be there then. We left the carpark and headed down towards the beach, coming across really steep sand dunes we had to get down. The getting down was great fun, but heading back up was somewhat of a nightmare! We walked the length of the beach to the hides where you can view the birds, since they get scared if they see people. We stayed for about 15 minutes, but didn’t see any so headed back along the beach towards the car. When we were just about to turn up and climb the sand dunes, we saw one! He started climbing the big dune and was soon greeted by a buddy who slid down to meet him and then walked back up with him. It was so cute!
Today, we headed to Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. We had to leave pretty early, since we had a special adventure we had to be in town for. When we arrived, we headed off to do the Nevis Arc, the highest swing in the world! They drive you up to Nevis Gorge, you walk out to a platform 160m high, in the middle of the canyon, they harness you up and then they drop you and let you fly through the canyon hitting 150kmph, in a 300m arc. It was SO fun. Kayla and I went in tandem and we didn’t even have time to think about it, since he didn’t even count us down before he dropped us. I have a video of the whole thing, but that will have to get posted later on. For now, enjoy some photos.
For dinner, we indulged in some delicious burgers from Fergburger, a Queestown staple. It was absolutely massive and it was the best burger I have ever eaten. I’m absolutely wiped from a jam-packed day of fun, and tomorrow I leave bright and early for the Fjordland to take in a cruise on Milford Sound. Stay tuned for more South Island adventures as we head up the West Coast next week!