New Zealand via Moterhome
2019 with Lisa Cardew
One of our travel dreams has always been to travel by motorhome around New Zealand. We finally packed up the kids (young teenagers) and rented a Maui motorhome and spent 4ish weeks travelling the Land of the Long White Cloud. We chose September to travel and it was a beautiful time of the year to travel. We were able to catch the tail end of the snow (much to the kid’s delight) but also enjoyed some beautiful spring weather which allowed us to really enjoy this amazingly scenic country. Travelling in a motorhome proved to be the perfect choice for this holiday. We were on the move a lot so we weren’t packing and unpacking all the time and had the added bonus of being able to self cater, as travelling with a family of four we would never have been able to afford to eat out for every meal. We also loved pulling over on the side of the road and sitting eating lunch with the views of mountains or a lake or river, and many of the campsites/caravan parks in New Zealand are in prime scenic spots. Our motorhome had a shower/toilet – we used the toilet, especially at night but opted in most cases to use the holiday park showers (we are avid campers so quite used to sharing public amenities).
We started off in Christchurch for a couple of days and then headed south exploring all of the major tourist spots. We spent the majority of our time on the South Island as we love scenery and hiking and the kids desperately wanted to see snow, and wow the South Island delivered. There were so many highlights of this amazing holiday, and it felt like after every experience, could it get any better?
Our first night in the motorhome couldn’t have been in a better location. We stayed in a little town called Lake Tekapo and had the most amazing views of the lake. Tekapo is part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve so it is a perfect spot for stargazing. We did a stargazing tour, being driven to the top of Mount John and viewing millions of stars.
Breakfast with a view, sitting on our campsite eating breakfast!
We then head to Aoraki/Mt Cook where we stayed in a simple DOC campground right at the base of a mountain! It was so quiet we could hear the avalanches at the top of the mountain. We did some beautiful hikes here, in particular, the Mt Hooker Valley walk (10km return of relatively flat hiking but absolutely amazing views). I highly recommend including time in the Aoraki region especially if you love scenery.
Beautiful Hooker Valley
We then drove down the East Coast and spent a few nights in the Catlins area before hitting up Milford Sound and Queenstown. We were very lucky with Milford Sound, it was a wet rainy and bleak day but magical as there were thousands of waterfalls on the sheer cliffs as we drove down there. That evening they had a massive snow dump and the Milford Road was closed for several days. We woke up in Te Anau to a fairyland of snow which was very exciting for us all, many of the roads were closed so we were stuck there an extra day, before heading to Queenstown.
Beautiful Milford Sound
Queenstown was one of our favourite places – we loved the layout of the town, the atmosphere, the majestic views and the fact that there was just so much to do there. We could easily have spent a week there. This of course was where the kids got to really play in the snow, they zip lined, we went into a bar made of ice, jet boated, rode on the skyline luge and much more. We would certainly go back here in a heartbeat!
Arrowtown (about 30mins from Queenstown) was also a favourite – a charming, quirky historic Gold Rush village nestled below the peaks.
One of the big highlights of our trip was the Glacier region. We splashed out and took a helicopter and landed on the top of Fox Glacier – the experience was amazing and the views were to die for. It is also the only way to get onto the glacier now as it is retreating so quickly and is far too dangerous to hike onto the glacier. We did do the hikes to the terminal faces of both the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers for magnificent views.
From the glaciers, we made our way through to Picton which boasts stunning coastal scenery, before catching the ferry across to the North Island and making our way through the thermal areas of Taupo and Rotorua. We also spent a day at Hobbiton, which was fascinating even though none of us is a huge Lord of the Rings fans.
We had an amazing time in New Zealand and in the four weeks we were there, we only touched the surface. If you are considering a holiday there, you will not be disappointed especially if you love scenery and the great outdoors.