South Island Road Trip

User: Nathan.James
Dates: 10 Jan 2018 - 19 Jan 2018
Duration: 1 week, 2 days

Kicking off 2018 with a ten day road trip of NZ’s South Island in Luigi, aka a coffee bean with wheels.

Friday 19 Jan 2018 18:26

Back at Jester House

Very long drive from Christchurch through the Lewis Pass, an amazing road that winds along following the Waiau river through the valley. A welcome change from yesterday’s drive through Canterbury - a giant dairy farm with not much to see except a bunch of cows. It’s been an amazing trip around the South Island, we did a lot of driving (2,303km’s) and could’ve taken longer to see a bit more, but we had to get back to Nelson for the weekend. A big highlight for me was staying in Wanaka and satisfying my itch to get onto a mountain bike and ride some trails. The hike to Rob Roy glacier was also really special, an absolute must if you visit. It was a shame we didn’t get to do our hike into Welcome Flat but it will have to wait for another time. It’s often joked that Tasmania is New Zealand’s West Island, and I think our islands have more in common than those “mainlanders” north of The Bass Strait. Large areas of untouched wilderness, small isolated communities, friendly people with a love of the outdoors, great hiking and some spectacular scenery. We’re more or less staying put until the end of the month, I already can’t wait to come back to see some more of this fantastic country.

Posted: Jan. 19, 2018, 5:26 a.m.

Friday 19 Jan 2018 11:37


Amazing to see a city rebuilding itself after the devastating 2011 earthquake. So much new and radical construction happening alongside crumbling, condemned buildings. The cathedral, the heart of the city is still a long way from being restored and debate still goes on as to just how it can be brought back to its former glory.

Posted: Jan. 18, 2018, 10:37 p.m.

Thursday 18 Jan 2018 14:04

Moeraki Boulders

Amazing geological rock formations caused by the cementation of paleocene mudstone.

Posted: Jan. 18, 2018, 1:04 a.m.

Thursday 18 Jan 2018 11:19

Dunedin Train Station

Stayed overnight with a friend of Harriette’s and had a wander around the city in the morning. Great little city similar to Hobart, very quiet as it’s summer break and all the students are out of town.

Posted: Jan. 17, 2018, 10:19 p.m.

Wednesday 17 Jan 2018 16:19

Nugget point lookout.

Posted: Jan. 17, 2018, 3:19 a.m.

Wednesday 17 Jan 2018 14:37

Purakaunui Falls

It’s always good to stop along the way and stretch the legs. A short walk through the forest where the air is clean and has that lovely rainforest smell to it. The falls aren’t quite as spectacular as usual due to the drought that many parts of NZ are experiencing.

Posted: Jan. 17, 2018, 1:37 a.m.

Wednesday 17 Jan 2018 12:26

Curio Bay - petrified forest

Said goodbye to everyone in Invercargill this morning before getting back on the road. Heading back north via the Catlins and Dunedin.

The petrified forest at Curio bay is one of the best examples of petrified forest from the Jurassic period. It’s unique in that it sits next to a living forest of plants that are direct descendants of those found fossilised in the rocks.

Posted: Jan. 16, 2018, 11:26 p.m.

Tuesday 16 Jan 2018 15:15

Checking out the Transport Museum.

Lots of amazing vehicles of yesteryear that have been restored to their former glory. I’m sitting in the famous mini from Goodbye Pork Pie.

Posted: Jan. 16, 2018, 2:15 a.m.

Tuesday 16 Jan 2018 13:26

A few laps of the Invercargill Velodrome.

Managed a 19.6 second flying lap which is apparently quite good for a first time, especially when it’s 30 odd degrees inside.

Posted: Jan. 16, 2018, 12:26 a.m.

Tuesday 16 Jan 2018 10:53

Checking out the Tuatara’s at the Invercargill museum.

Tuatara’s are the last living remnant of the dinosaurs, some 250 million years old. They are now extinct on both the north and south islands of New Zealand but have some populations on Stewart, Stevens and Auckland Island. The oldest Tuatara in the Museums breeding program is Henry, at about 130 years of age.

Posted: Jan. 15, 2018, 9:53 p.m.

Monday 15 Jan 2018 11:52

Bluff - The end of the road

Posted: Jan. 14, 2018, 10:52 p.m.

Sunday 14 Jan 2018 21:01

Made it to Invercargill - went for a post dinner constitutional in Queen’s Park.

It’s supposed to get over 30° today so a trip to the beach is on the cards.

Posted: Jan. 14, 2018, 8:01 a.m.

Sunday 14 Jan 2018 15:34

Glorious swim in Lake Wakatipu

Posted: Jan. 14, 2018, 2:34 a.m.

Sunday 14 Jan 2018 15:01

Lake Wakatipu overlooked by the Remarkables

Posted: Jan. 14, 2018, 2:01 a.m.

Sunday 14 Jan 2018 11:37

Lunch in Arrowtown

Posted: Jan. 13, 2018, 10:37 p.m.

Sunday 14 Jan 2018 10:58

Little Luigi + Harriette at the top of the Crown Range pass.

Posted: Jan. 13, 2018, 9:58 p.m.

Sunday 14 Jan 2018 10:39

Back on the road again - Quick stop to check out the famous Cardrona Hotel.

Posted: Jan. 13, 2018, 9:39 p.m.

Saturday 13 Jan 2018 18:38

The infamous Wanaka three activity day.

Lindsay and I started the morning by hiring some pretty serious enduro mountain bikes and heading over to sticky forest for some laps. This time I was on a bike that fitted me properly and managed to keep myself from flying over the handlebars. We had a lot of fun sending them down the trails for a couple of hours, chalking up 12.1kms worth of adrenaline fuelled fun. Followed that with a very quick recovery dip with the girls in the lake, which was positively Baltic.

After lunch, we all went for a walk to see Rob Roy’s Glacier in Mount Aspiring National Park. Steph and Lindsay both remembered it as being not too steep and a reasonably quick walk, turned out to be a pretty steep and longer than expected hike which really knackered me. (Another 12.4km and climbed 549m) It was so worth it though to see some absolutely stunning scenery. Mount Aspiring National Park has over one hundred glaciers and most have retreated a great deal, amazing to see one whilst they still exist.

Our last activity was a swim in a natural pool under a glacial melt waterfall that we stopped at on our way back to the house. The water was even colder than in the lake but extremely refreshing after a long dusty hike. We managed to catch the last of the afternoon sun, which filled the valley with a golden glow. A gorgeous end to a pretty amazing day. Super tired and sore now, looking forward to a sleep in tomorrow morning.

Posted: Jan. 13, 2018, 5:38 a.m.

Friday 12 Jan 2018 16:51

Views from Rippon Winery.

Headed around the corner to check out Rippon Winery, a biodynamic vineyard in an amazing location. Unfortunately we couldn’t buy and drink a bottle there as they don’t have a license so we had a tasting instead. Got the sales spiel from an American guy who couldn’t pronounce Otago correctly and looked worried when he realised we had some kiwis in our group that probably know NZ wine better than he does.

Posted: Jan. 12, 2018, 3:51 a.m.

Friday 12 Jan 2018 10:00

Getting my MTB fix

First activity for the day - a quick 50 minute loop of a local trail. Unfortunately I did manage to send myself over the handlebars but luckily I wasn’t going flat out so just a couple of small scrapes.

Posted: Jan. 11, 2018, 9 p.m.

Thursday 11 Jan 2018 18:52

Made it to Wanaka!

Looooong day of driving. We were able to stop pretty frequently though and do a few short forest walks to check out some nice spots along the way. It’s pretty late as I’m writing this and we’re both feeling super tired, so I’ve hurriedly updated all the spots. Some fun stuff planned for tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Posted: Jan. 11, 2018, 5:52 a.m.

Thursday 11 Jan 2018 15:31

Blue pools

Posted: Jan. 11, 2018, 2:31 a.m.

Thursday 11 Jan 2018 14:38

Fantail falls

Posted: Jan. 11, 2018, 1:38 a.m.

Thursday 11 Jan 2018 14:04

Thunder creek falls

Posted: Jan. 11, 2018, 1:04 a.m.

Thursday 11 Jan 2018 12:45

Haast - lunchbreak of whitebait pattie, a west coast delicacy. Actually quite delicious.

Posted: Jan. 10, 2018, 11:45 p.m.

Thursday 11 Jan 2018 12:01

Knights point

Posted: Jan. 10, 2018, 11:01 p.m.

Thursday 11 Jan 2018 9:00

Piked the hike

Woke up to the ominous sound of heavy rainfall in the early hours, and several email weather alerts. The west coast was getting 170mm of rainfall over the next 48 hours and there was a good chance of several rivers being flooded. As we arrived we met an American couple who looked like drowned rats, they had been camping and hitchhiked to the trail head, and like us were deliberating whether to attempt to cross the river. We searched for an alternate route but it became apparent that it wasn’t going to happen.

Edit: received another email at 10:09 saying that the Copland track is now closed. We made the right call.

So we’ve given the poor sodden Americans a lift back to town which they were very thankful for and we’re going to head for Wanaka a day early.

Posted: Jan. 10, 2018, 8 p.m.

Wednesday 10 Jan 2018 21:26

Posted: Jan. 10, 2018, 8:26 a.m.

Wednesday 10 Jan 2018 18:54

Made it to Fox Glacier

511 km’s later we arrived at our accommodation for the night. Harriette wisely pulled the pin on our plans to camp at the start of the trail head as it’s been pouring with rain most of the day. There is heavy rain forecast tomorrow also, which is a bit annoying but that’s West Coast NZ for you. Tomorrow we’re doing an overnight trek into welcome flats, supposedly stunning views of the southern alps and the added bonus of hot thermal pools you can bathe in when you get to the huts. There won’t be any signal so I’ll have to update once we get back.

Posted: Jan. 10, 2018, 5:54 a.m.

Wednesday 10 Jan 2018 15:17

Punakaiki - pancake rocks

Made it to the west coast through some torrential rain, the kind that even the highest speed setting on the windscreen wipers can barely handle. Luigi, although small is a great car to drive and handles like its’s on rails. We do get some funny looks as two fairly large people climb out of a pretty tiny car.

The pancake rocks are limestone that was formed around 35 million years ago and has been pushed up to the surface. They get their name from the layers that look like a stack of pancakes. Quite amazing to see although the heavy sea fog and weird light meant my photos didn’t come out that well.

Posted: Jan. 10, 2018, 2:17 a.m.

Wednesday 10 Jan 2018 9:00

Setting off

We’ve slightly downsized from Nigel. Meet Luigi, the Italian stallion, or pony maybe. 900cc turbo-charged coffee bean with wheels. Big day of driving today, will stop for lunch somewhere nice.

Posted: Jan. 9, 2018, 8 p.m.

South Island Road Trip

User: Nathan.James
Dates: 10 Jan 2018 - 19 Jan 2018
Duration: 1 week, 2 days

Kicking off 2018 with a ten day road trip of NZ’s South Island in Luigi, aka a coffee bean with wheels.

My favourite bridge in my favourite park. Enjoy all the delights of Invercargill.

Love reading your travels. Fantail falls potentially more like peacock falls but so pretty. Advantage of the rain of the Coast - great waterfalls.