South Island, New Zealand.

When people are asked what they are proud of they often answer with the pride of nationalism. Whilst yes, I guess I am proud to be Australian (if not not entirely proud of our politics and persons somewhat dated views), I can more honestly say I’m proud to be an Australian that has lived in New Zealand (and picked up (read: forced) a marginally decent Kiwi accent). Whilst I love my homeland, New Zealand defiantly picks up where we as Australia left off. That, and the heartbreakingly beautiful landscapes.

My time in New Zealand left me guilty of being a North Islander; never straying too far from familiar Auckland to the wild South Island of which I now find myself writing about. I can however sense (hope) that I am not yet done with NZ and a more permanent move back will soon be on the cards.

The South Island is as picturesque as they say, so much so it seems almost unfair that such a small place could have so much beauty. The only way to see this country is via car, the kilometres slipping away easily as you are left stunned at every corner turned. The mountains climb around you, snow glimmering under the winter sun and the rivers flow the brightest blue it seems almost unnatural.

With a population of only a touch over a million it unsurprising the townships are best described as quaint, and always charming. The haphazard arrangements of man-made within the landscapes would be almost a shame if it weren’t for the Kiwis inherent passion for their land and their ever positive energy. New Zealanders are truly the most hospitable I’ve met world over and I can only hope just a touch of that has rubbed off on me as a self dubbed honorary Kiwi.

Queenstown is unsurprisingly a must see. A small town located right down south on Lake Wakatipu, nestled amongst the Southern Alps. It’s a vibrant town made up majorly of backpackers; summer or winter, flocking here for the endless options of adventure tourism that quickly exhaust the bank account in the best way possible, it is lucky that the other main spending expense for travellers, beer, is relatively cheap. It it an easy assumption to make the the nights here will transpire to be just as high adrenaline as the days activities.

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I was here for my brothers wedding and aside from an evening of over indulgence in NZ’s best sparkling my time was relatively tame. From the golf frisbee amongst lush parklands upon the lake, to hiking up Ben Lomond and absolutely slaying the skyline luge. Of course, in all honesty the majority of my time was spent brunching. Vudu Cafe and Larder is the undisputed poached egg and flat white champion. Fergberger will sell you one of the best burgers (hangover cures) of your life.

811The beautiful Arrowtown, around 40 minutes out of Queenstown is an easy half day excursion. The small village within the Central Otago region is home to the prettiest cottages around, and hosts a decent selection of cafes showing off the pristine produce known of the region. A walk along the shallow river here provides a wonderful insight into the countries immigrant history.

Shifting up a couple of hours north is Lake Tekapo. The Australian in me couldn’t have been happier waking up to ground freshly dusted in white; snow an uncommon phenomenon to most Aussies.  I can highly recommend you rent a cabin at lakes edge, devouring takeout thai and late night hot chocolates as you stargaze, the stars sparkling in this Dark Sky Reserve. Even better indulge in a night ‘swim’ at Tekapo Springs.

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I didn’t make it to the renowned Milford Sound, hike in Able Tasman, swim with dolphins at Kiakoura, or visit the innovative re-bulid that is Christchurch. New Zealand has an astounding amount to offer in such a small space that it’s impossible to see it all. This country really is my favourite place in the world and I can’t wait to be a kiwi again soon.

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