After our night at Abel Tasman, we said goodbye to the seemingly unreal blue water and headed down the west coast.
Our goal was to make it to just before Franz Josef Glacier that evening. Along the way, we stopped at the Pancake Rocks, which was interesting rock formations that “look like stacks of pancakes”, but really they just look sorta cool. The most entertaining part of this little adventure was watching this one lady dart around as a photo ninja and make worthless 2-3 second videos at each lookout on the path. Plus, Shawn made a video.
The next day we headed to Franz Josef Glacier. There weren’t any big, more technical hikes in the area, so we settled for the the main hike out to the glacier. Lucky for us, we had decent weather and could get close (maybe about 300 meters, though it looked closer). The hike took about 2 hours round trip (including lunch) and it was great to be able to see the glacier (thank you weather). There is an option where you can fly in a helicopter up to the glacier and walk around on it, but we are on a budget here, so decided against that.
After hiking, we made our way further south down the coast, stopping to see some beautiful views and staying the night in Wanaka. I wish we had had more time there because it was so beautiful!
The next morning, we hit the road again to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.
The day started out nice, but by the time we made it to the main road to Milford, it started to pour. It was a tricky drive with so much insane rain, but once we got into the valleys leading to Milford, it was breathtaking with waterfalls EVERYWHERE. So many that we couldn’t count. There is a one-way tunnel on the road and we got stopped at the light and had to wait, so we had a chance to hop out and take some cool photos.
We were a bit freaked out that the weather would keep up once we got to Milford. As the girl who checked us in to our campsite told me, “this is typical of the weather here in summer.” We had a crazy night in the campervan with strong winds and lightning and thunder. Luckily, when we woke up, we were delighted with the most gorgeous day. We headed out to the dock for our boat tour, which cost $100 less than a kayaking tour (what?!).
I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves here. This place is stunning. Like, can’t really capture it in a photo, stunning. We spent most of the boat ride going, “OMG!”
That afternoon, wanting to take advantage of this beautiful place and the beautiful weather, we hopped on the end of the Routeburn Track and did a hike to the top of Key Summit. It was gorgeous, and with the beautiful weather, made for a fantastic afternoon. Our drive out to the trail also allowed us to go back through some of the area we had driven through in a storm and we realized how beautiful the surrounding were. It was great to be able to see it in a different way.
The next morning we headed out of Milford towards Christchurch. We did some wine tasting before making it to a campground midway to Christchurch. The next day, we got to Christchurch, said goodbye (more like “good riddance!”) to our campervan, and saw Morgan off at the airport in a teary goodbye.
Coming up next, we’ll tell you about our time in Christchurch, and the adventure back to Auckland.