We caught up with Jaharn Giles, Travel Blogger, Mister Weekender, to get the scoop on her recent trip she took New Zealand with us! Check out her 5 must do & see’s in the South Island.
It’s almost impossible to capture the beauty of New Zealand using words. Yet when I look at its beauty, I am immediately drawn to the variety of colours bursting from the scenery in front of me. It’s hard to believe I was only exploring the South Island just a couple of months ago. Picturesque every day of the year, the South Island should already be on your bucket list. For those planning on exploring, adventuring and hiking the South Island, I’ve pulled together my top list of things you need to see and do:
Hire a car and drive just over an hour north of Queenstown to Lake Wanaka. Located in the Otago region of New Zealand in the heart of the Otago Lakes, Lake Wanaka covers an area of 192 square kilometres, at an altitude of 300 metres. The township is situated in a glacier carved basin on the shores of the lake and is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. The road to Lake Wanaka is windy and the vistas otherworldly. Upon reaching the lake, stop by Roys Bay, a quiet pebble cove and walked along the shore, exploring the low lying vegetation and watching the Kite’s soaring above. I couldn’t help but stare at the indigo coloured water for long periods of time – it looked like navy silk. Jump back in the car and venture around the lake by way of Mt Aspiring Road. Here I went off piste exploring the lakes secluded bays and inlets, and marveled at the impossible beauty of Parkins Bay.
ONSEN HOT POOLS
The perfect spot to unwind and soak up Queenstown’s wide open spaces, take in some nature by enjoying an open-air hot onsen. Upon arrival I was taken down to a private timber onsen, which comes complete with a rainforest shower. I chose to retract the roof so the private onsen was completely outdoors. Stepping into the hot water I immediately immersed myself in the surrounds, enjoying the views of the Shotover River and surrounding mountains. As the saying ‘when in Rome’ I wanted to pamper myself so I enjoyed champagne with a bowl of seasonal fruit. Perfect for a group of friends, a family, lovers or going solo, the Onsen Hot Pools are the perfect way to indulge after a long day of exploring or skiing.
Queenstown is famous for the Remarkables and Coronet Peak. If you’re in the area, drive up the mountain to Coronet Peak anytime of the year to get a birds eye view of Queenstown. The steep, ear popping drive and magnificent vistas felt like I was in a James Bond movie but after a short 15 minutes I found myself at Front Face (ski run) with the mountain covered in mossy vegetation and the still chair lifts slightly nodding in the breeze.
If you have time, I strongly urge you to jump in the car and do a road trip to Milford Sound. Approximately a four and a half hour drive west of Queenstown, the road took me south and then wrapped around north before heading out west. It was a long way to drive but undeniably worth every single moment.
Driving through Kingston, Garston, Mossburn and The Key, stop at Lake Te Anau to have a look at the South Fiordland in the Fiordland National Park. Turning left off the highway onto a disguised dirt road, I found myself at a pebble beach where I was able to see the South Fiordland across the lake. In case you are a fiord novice like myself, a fiord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion. I’ve never seen a fiord and was impressed at the sheer size of the valley carved by glacier!
Following this I continued onto Milford Sound. The landscape dramatically changes, as I got closer to Milford Sound. The air was crisp, rain was falling, waterfalls were forming down the mountainous terrain and fresh water rivers were roaring. I honestly felt as though I was in Pandora from the movie Avatar.The sun was starting to set, the light was low, misty clouds choking the Sound, rain was falling softly and I could see more fresh waterfalls falling from the top of the mountains surrounding us. Right here, in New Zealand, I had found an otherworldly paradise that is beyond belief. For those with more time, there are cabins to spend a night or two at Milford Sound. There are also numerous cruise boats operating tours around the Sound.
The largest of three alpine lakes running along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin on New Zealand’s South Island, Lake Pukaki was created when the terminal moraines of receding glaciers blocked their respective valleys. The glacial melting feeds the lake with a distinctive azure blue colour. Stopping by a pine forest clinging to the edge of the lake, I explored the fresh water lake, stopping to taste the water and explore the deep pine forest collecting pinecones. Across the lake and into the distance, I could see the majestic snow capped Mt Cook. There is a visitors center in Twizel, however if you don’t have enough time to drop by the center, it is super easy exploring the Lake your own way, on foot or by car or campervan
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