A Quick Tour of the South Island: Lake Tekapo 

Lake Tekapo is a gorgeous lake that is home to beautiful views, the Church of the Good Shepherd and clear starry night skies.

The famous Church of the Good Shepherd is a big tourist attraction…so be warned of the crowds in the day time. This picture was taken around dusk and thankfully many tourists were away eating dinner. 

The beautiful colored flowers are called lupins and are seen in high density all over the landscape.

In the tiny one street town of Lake Tekapo is home to a few very delicious restaurants…

Above is a gluten free brownie and below is a mini donut ice cream dessert…

Hot chocolate…with pink Marshmallow of course…

Fresh salmon quinoa vegetable salad from Reflections Cafe.

Pad Thai…

and finally also pad see ew from Kohan Restaurant. 


A Quick Tour of the South Island: Mount Cook 

My absolute favorite part of New Zealand is the Mount Cook area. With amazing hikes, blue lakes and snowy mountains…what’s not to love?

Pictured above is Lake Pukaki. On the drive to Mount Cook, you suddenly see turquoise water glistening in the distance. (Yes the water is actually that bright turquoise!) 

Along the drive by the lake there are a few stopping points to pull off and park your car to get beautiful views of the lake. 
Once you reach the Mount Cook town there is not much to do other than hike and go to the tiny museum that is in the isight center. There are only two places to eat: the very expensive hotel and the also expensive Old Mountaineers Cafe…that does have good hot chocolate. But I would highly recommend bringing your own food to eat. 

There is a hostel and a few other mountain cabins to stay at in the town. You can also camp up the road towards the hike tracks. 

The famous track at Mount Cook is called the Hooker Valley Track. It is a very easily walked track for anyone and is beautifully maintained. 

I recommend to hike this track early in the morning…even hike at sunrise. The track gets extremely crowded throughout the day when the tour buses arrive…so just be warned! 

Along the track there are awesome bridges and wooden tracks to walk on above the ground. If you are lucky, you might spot a bunny or two hopping along especially early in the morning. 
Finally once you have made it through the valley you will see the spectacular Mount Cook. 

The giant snowy mountain is absolutely breathtaking. And this view below is my favorite view in New Zealand:

With views of the icebergs floating in the rushing water it was the perfect start to any day! 
After the Hooker Valley Track head over to Tasman Glacier Lake for a quick hike up the steps to the glacier. 

The lake was once a huge glacier but sadly has melted away and now is a lake. 

A Quick Tour of the South Island: Dunedin 

Located on the south east side of the South Island is city of Dunedin

Dunedin’s steep windy roads reminded me of San Francisco. Actually, the steepest road in the world is located in Dunedin! It was very steep to walk up but there were stairs on the side which was nice…and totally cheating! 

There is a beautiful Botanic Garden in Dunedin which was so wonderful to walk around and see the flowers and trees. 

If you want to pay to see another garden and castle, The Larnach Castle also has georgous gardens and views of the city. 

Dunedin has absolutely amazing sunrises…the first sunrise of each day. 

A little drive north from Dunedin along the coast you can see the mesmerizing Moeraki Boulders. 

I swear that aliens pieced these perfectly round rocks together. It was so interesting to see the few broken Boulders to see what they looked like inside. 

A Quick Tour of the South Island: Milford Sound and Catlins 

On the south west side of the South Island is the world famous wonder, Milford Sound

The ferry tour departs early in the morning and the closest way to get to Milford Sound is to drive from the small town of Te Anau. Or book the bus tour from Queenstown.  They actually recommend going to Milford Sound after or during a big rainstorm because alongside the mountains are thousands of waterfalls.

On a normal sunny day, there are only two waterfalls. I was a little disappointed because I thought that the water was going to be clear and that the ferry tour would have been longer. There was so much hype about Milford Sound being the most beautiful place on earth…I didn’t think it was the most beautiful and it did not really live up to its high expectations. 

On the southern tip of the South Island is the area known as The Catlins. 

In the Catlins you can see lighthouses, the southern most part of New Zealand sign, and these magical wind-swept trees. 

A Quick Tour of the South Island: Queenstown 

Queenstown is located on the western part of the South Island. It is home to everything adrenaline-rush and adventure seekers. 

The town is next to a beautiful landscape of mountains, clear lake and a big open sky. There are numerous restaurants and shops in the town and countless adventure booking shops where you can book your Milford Sound cruise, bungie jump or sky dive. 

So I decided to go a little crazy and book an adventure called the Nevis Bungy Swing

It was absolutely exhilarating! If you ever are in Queenstown you must do the swing, bungie jump, skydive or why not all three? 

A Quick Tour of the South Island: Wanaka

One of my favorite towns in the South Island is called Wanaka. It is located towards the middle West coast side of the island and is home to a beautiful town with lots of restaurants and shops as well as great lake views and hikes. 

These flowers are called lupins and in the Springtime are seen all over the south island. 

This tree is the famous Wanaka Tree that is growing in the lake. It was difficult to find on a map but is actually located on the left side of the lake by the lake front park away from town. 

Brittany and I hiked up and down Isthmus Peak for seven hours to see the gorgeous views of two lakes. Along our hike there were plenty of cute sheep walking around which were on the farm you hike through to get to the track up. 

The hike was difficult and steep but it was worth the incredible views seen throughout the track and at the top of the mountain. 

We were up so high we could see rain showers over the lake in the distance. 

At the top of the mountain it was snowing and someone built a little snowman who gets to look at views of the lakes all day. 

A Quick Tour of the South Island: Glaciers 

As Brittany and I drove South along the west coast to Franz Josef Glacier we stopped at the Pancake Rocks. 

The first glacier we hiked to was Franz Josef glacier. 

The hike was longer than expected…but it was a crazy sight to see. 

Sadly, the glacier is melting fast and even since 2008 it has shrunk immensely. 

Along the hike to the glacier were beautiful cascading waterfalls. 

The above glacier is Fox Glacier…located 25 minutes south of Franz Josef. 

When driving be careful of cows in the road! 

A Quick Tour of the South Island: Karamea 

The long six hour drive from Christchurch to the small town of Karamea was a georgous one even though it was a cloudy day. 

We drove through Arthurs Pass and stopped at Castle Hill to see the giant rocks and hiked to waterfalls. 

One of my favorite hikes in New Zealand called, Bealey Valley Track in Arthurs Pass had many bridges, wooden pathways and views of the mountains. 
The roads to the tiny town of 500 people in Karamea were long and windy but our airbnb host was so welcoming and shared her travel stories, yoga class and where the best secret hikes are in Karamea. 

We hiked to Oparara Basin and saw a beautiful blue sky shining through from above.  

This lake is along a track and is like a mirror as it reflects the sky and beautiful rainforest trees. 

We climbed into a cave and saw the outstanding view from under the basin. 

The river is red-ish because the water flows through the rain forest ground as the leaf tannins soak in the water and basically make leaf tea water! 
The little moss waterfalls were by far my favorite to see. 

A Quick Tour of the South Island: Christchurch 

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island. It was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2010. They are still rebuilding and adding to the city with many artists and beautiful architecture. 

The pictures above are from the vibrant Botanic Gardens in Christchurch. The gardens are beautiful to walk through and visit the green houses along the river. 

We ate delicious Thai food at The Nook Eatery on New Regent Street which has many shops, cafes and restaurants. 
The trolley occasionally stops through the cute street and you might be lucky enough to see a magical wizard read the morning newspaper…

Many of the old churches and historical buildings are still under construction. 

A part of the city called ReStart has stores abd food trucks creativity made out of shipping containers after the earthquake. 

We hiked up to Victoria Park to see views of the city before our long drive across the island to the north west side. 

A Quick Tour of the South Island: Kaikoura 

Brittany is visiting for a month and we are traveling through the South Island for the next 21 days! Our adventures started on the three hour car ferry from Wellington in the North Island to the South Island. 

We were greeted by absolutely breathtaking views of distant snow capped mountains and bright blue skys.  

We drove-on the left side of the road- down the windy east coast to the little town of Kaikoura. I would live in this town tomorrow. It has most picturesque views of the blue water and white Mountains. 

These views every day…could also include an occasional whale swimming in the ocean or snowing in the distant mountains. 

So unfortunately we couldn’t stay because we had to venture on to the city of Christchurch… But I will definitely go back!