Wandering Aotearoa ~ with Emily Hutchinson

Ahhh New Zealand. Like an awkward third cousin, we're practically family. I arrived at Queenstown airport expecting Legolas and Aragon at every turn – what I received however was a sprawling vista of snow-capped peaks and ice blue lakes as far as the eye could see (one would argue which was actually the better view…)

Now I will admit, in the past I have overlooked this pocket rocket of a country for sunnier and more distant shores. I envisioned going to New Zealand much the same as making the trip to Melbourne – mildly appealing, much like taking a tepid bath. I know now, that I had made a grave error in judgment. 

Nothing can really prepare you (unless you have been to Canada, northern Europe, or any other mountainous region - but let me just have my moment) for the complete sense of insignificance the untamed wilderness that is the South Island bestows upon you. It glorious in its magnitude. Resplended in its grandeur. Heroic in it’s significance! (I promise to stop using thesaurus from here on in)

Now, I would love to tell you the most efficient route to see the best spots on the island, but unfortunately my approach to seeing the sights resembled a cat chasing a laser beam. Erratic and bizarre. So what I will do for you instead is give you a wee run down on my must see places and let you route yourself (that sounds rude).

First and foremost is Milford Sound. Weird name – fabulous location. It is I dare say, a must see location. If your driving from Queenstown there are plenty of free camps throughout Fordland’s national park, but if a hot shower and a little more comfort is more your style than there are powered sites in Te Anau. 

From here I highly suggest taking the route past Wanaka (my mum kept calling it wanker and giggling like a 60 year old school girl) past lake Hawea and on towards Haast pass. Haast pass itself is a magnificent drive – with waterfalls and Ice-melt Rivers along its entirety. At its conclusion its spits you out along the Western coastline, where you can make your way north towards the glaciers. 

Now my next recommendation gives Milford Sound a run for its prestigious title as most aesthetically pleasing location. Without further adieu I give you Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo and their protective older sibling Mount Cook. These turquoise alpine lakes are a serious sight to behold. I was absolutely convinced someone had put dye in the water and was pulling everybody’s leg with the “natural occurrence” story. If budget allows – treat yourself to a 45-minute flight over the mountains – it was worth every pathetic penny.

Worth a mention are Dunedin and Queenstown – when I travel I tend to gravitate towards the natural earthy delights, but if a bit of civilization is what your after these two cities are probably a couple of the prettiest I have ever seen.

To wrap things up (because I have to not because I want to, I could rattle on for days) the best way to see this island is to grab a campervan, a map and just go hell for leather. There truly is no wrong turn on this island. And on a last note – I apologize for anyone who watched my instagram story staring my mother during this hard and harrowing journey. I am nothing if not my mother’s daughter.