Hi there, I’m back to civilization from a 3,000km road trip in the ultimately pure and unspoiled southern New Zealand.

For the first time we camped among the wild — whether it was wet or dry, by the lakeside or deep in the bush, close to towns or in the middle of nowhere. Also for the first time we spent days in the zero-signal areas and learned to live more with less. Power and drinking water were a luxury at times so we tried to store these resources whenever and wherever possible. Spark wasn’t a reliable telco when it came to mobile coverage in the South island, but in a way it forced us to appreciate the beauty of surrounding nature.

For days we ventured out into the unknown in quest of native sea life, knowing the chance might be slim but nothing could hold back our excitement. We waited hours in the freezing drizzle outside the nest of the yellow-eyed penguins, and felt the utmost joy when finally seeing one returning home after all day feeding in the ocean. We knew how fortunate we were — considering that the yellow-eyed penguins can only be found in New Zealand, and are allegedly among the world’s rarest penguin species. While roaming secluded beaches in the Otago Peninsula, we were also lucky enough to encounter with NZ’s fur seals and sea lions as they were resting on the dune. We were warned that seals and sea lions could get aggressive if feeling disturbed, therefore we could only get as close as 10m from where they were.

We also disciplined ourselves with a good amount of scenic walks and day hikes throughout the trip. In Arthur’s pass national park, we took the Scotts track (6-8 hrs return), which was rocks all the way to the summit and extremely exposed, but the unobstructed view of Mt. Rolleston (2,271 m) in the end was worth every sweat. The Roys Peak track (6 hrs return) was also challenging with more than 1,200m gain in elevation. Franz Josef Glacier & Fox Glacier tracks, surprisingly, were more like walks in the park for its flat grounds, however we were both in awe of the spectacular alpine landscape that has been shaped over thousands of years. Aoraki Mt Cook (3,724m), King of the Southern Alps, probably offered the best tracks of all. Views of the Mueller glacier were clearly visible from the driveway, and the popular Hookey valley track made us wow all the way from the car park to the glacial lake for its rugged landscape of mountains, rocks, glaciers, streams and icebergs.

Planning for this trip had been a half-a-year long effort of G alone for I was so stressed with the transitional trimester. Kudos to him for making our itinerary quite a good mix between adventure and leisure, hiking and sight-seeing, moving and taking time off the road. Most of all, it was him who made this trip all about authentic (and mainly free) experiences!

Stay tuned for more stories of our favorite attractions! In the meantime, here’s a quick recap of our NZ South island adventure in photos.

2017 NZ South islands 0249.jpgView from the Scotts track, Arthur’s pass national park – Photo courtesy of G

2017 NZ South islands 0403.jpgThe turquoise color of Hokitika river – Photo courtesy of G

2017 NZ South islands 0508.jpg Franz Josef Glacier in Westland National Park – Photo courtesy of G

2017 NZ South islands 0716.jpgNear the summit of Roys Peak (1578m) in Wanaka – Photo courtesy of G

2017 NZ South islands 0878.jpgBeautiful parrot feeding at Kiwi birdlife Park (Queenstown) – Photo courtesy of G

2017 NZ South islands 1257.jpgBlooming lupins in Fordland National Park

2017 NZ South islands 1475.jpgA yellow-eyed penguin cleaning himself as returning to the nest – Photo courtesy of G

2017 NZ South islands 1723.jpgA female fur seal relaxing on the dune of Allans beach (Dunedin) – Photo courtesy of G

IMG_9073.jpgCamping in Glentanner Holiday Park, 20 mins drive to the Hooker Valley track

IMG_9140.jpgMueller glacier flowing through Mt Cook – Photo courtesy of G

IMG_9344.jpgTasman glacier, a terminal ice structure that is the biggest of its kind in NZew Zealand – Photo courtesy of G

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