Fiordland (in the South-west corner of NZ) is some of the most remote and imposing country in the whole country. It’s also incredibly beautiful.
The easiest way to experience this scenery is a trip to Milford Sound – there are a number of operators that run coach/cruise day-trips from either Queenstown or Te Anau, or you can drive in yourself.
It’s a big day, but Milford is well worth the trip. Once there you can go sea-kayaking (there are usually some dolphins hanging around), take a cruise or go for a hike. Our big day was filled with rain rain RAIN! But because of it we saw probably more than a 1000 falls.
You’ve probably heard of Queenstown – it’s widely renowned as the ‘adrenaline capital of the world’, and for good reason! There is something for everyone in this area, with a whole lot of awesome nature to go along with all the bungy jumping/skydiving/canyon swings/luging/paraponting and mountain biking to be had.
Cycle to the old-school gold mining town of Arrowtown for a look-round, have a bite at the famous Gibbston Valley Café and maybe stay there at the art-deco cinema called Dorothy Browns. In Queenstown we got a bit chocolate crazy and decided to try out Patagonia Chocolates and ice cream.
Wanaka was by far our favourite spots. It somewhere in between of being exciting to relaxing. For our exciting part we did paragliding from Treble Cone, highly recommend it! For the relaxing bit we did a bit of cycling tracks around the lake and climbed up Mt Iron for the 360 view, at evening we decided to check out some more artsy art-deco cinemas called Ruby’s and Paradiso (amazing homemade pizza and freshly baked cookies!)
We also met up with a Slovenian couple who live there for about two years now. They have an incredibly inspiring blog called MayJer Tales and so many delicious began recipes! They also helped us a lot with some info about Wanaka and general camper van dilemmas. We had a nice glass of wine and a “mojito” mint tea at a very groovy bar 😉
Don’t miss the yummy organic Soul Food for a nutritious lunch and healthy sweets.
If you have time head up to Paradise or walk the Roteburn track (one day – 4 days walk).
4. Fox Glacier
The drive down to the glaciers – most of the road is alongside the rugged coastline, and there are some really cool little stops such as Ship Creek, Haast and Fantail falls to keep your camera-finger busy along the way. Glacier country’ is centralized around the towns of Fox and Franz Josef towards the bottom of the West-coast region.
The glaciers in this area are pretty unique in that they are really accessible – meaning you don’t have to hike for days to get to them! Head on up for a look by yourself, or take a half day trip with one of the professional guiding companies available – this is well worth it as you actually get to explore the glacier itself rather than just look at it.
Don’t miss the gorgeous Mirror Lake, best to see it very early morning!
We also did a detour to Jackson Bay for some the real deal fish and chips, beware of Sandflies!!!
After a day’s adventuring continue up the coast through Hokitika (great for Pounamu or greenstone/jade) before arriving in Greymouth.
Okay this is a fairly long travel day (at least for New Zealand standards at 4hours) but its well worth it as you drive through the amazing UNESCO World Heritage site of the West-coast to Greymouth.
Stop in at the famous Punakaiki ‘Pancake Rocks’ to check out the natural limestone formations and some cheeky Weka’s (flightless native birds similar to Kiwi’s).
Go and check out the Monteith’s Brewery Tour when you get there – just make sure you get a taxi or walk back to your accommodation!