“Life on the Road – New Zealand” is 1,600 miles in a campervan on the wrong side of the road to 6 cities across 2 islands in 8 days minus a working stereo (or a bath, for that matter).
As we wrapped up our 9-day trek of New Zealand, we rolled through Kaikoura. We intended to go whale watching, but instead stuffed ourselves with out-of-this-world Indian food and crashed for the night. Then I woke up to these mountains. There’s nothing like sliding open the window in your toasty bunk, inhaling a crisp breeze, seeing this view, and realizing you’re living Life on the Road.
Landing on a glacier is nothing less than a bucket list adventure, but what made this even more special is the fact that this part of New Zealand is home to two of the world’s only three glaciers that meet sub-tropical rain forest. (The other is in the Andes Mountains.) Our heli ride swept us across jagged mountains with distant views of the Tasman Sea. Climbing to 6,000 feet, we were deposited on the névé of Franz Josef Glacier atop Mt. Tasman.
What can I say in words that these pictures don’t more eloquently express about the beauty of New Zealand, its skies, and its beaches? This set is from the small seaside town of Hokitika, a pitstop on our southerly journey to Franz Josef glacier all the way from Auckland in North Island. Here you finally see the campervan that was our home (and sometimes our burden) in the 9-day road trip.
When I think of port towns, my mind gravitates toward images of feculent water and grimy sea towns rather than say, Portofino. How pleasantly surprised I was to arrive in Picton after the stomach-wrenching ferry ride across the Cook Straight. Picton’s portside park is, as you can see, intensely beautiful with manicured lawns, flowering everything, and a smattering of charming coffee shops and cafes alongside.
I imagined crossing the Cook Straight aboard a ferry to be this romantic, tranquil journey with pods of dolphin leaping acrobatically from the surrounding waters and unreal sunsets that would guarantee my place on speed dial at National Geographic. Instead… I nearly lost my lunch.
We spent Day 2 of The Great New Zealand Campervan Caper in modern port city of Auckland. We had no agenda and didn’t need one. Strolling from café to café, pub to pub, and exploring the wharf one boat at a time made for a pleasant and picturesque day. We enjoyed cappuccino and gelato at Valentino’s Gelato, savory mussels with Mojitos and beer at The Occidental, and an awesome Margherita at Pizza Fresco, because what’s better than a pizza with a rocket salad on top?
Te Puia, a 60-hectare valley with more than 500 geothermal wonders, is absolutely mesmerizing in its beauty, power, and otherworldliness. Where else can you feel like you’re both on the Moon and a Swiss alpine lake? This landscape was begging for an impromptu photo shoot, so I hurried back to our campervan, changed, and twirled my way through the park, undeterred by the curious Chinese tour group cueing up around us. If a heavy rain had not swept in, I never would have left. Truly a magical day.
We awoke to a stunning view of rolling green hills and the sounds of sheep and goats greeting us as we peered out the large bay window. Incredible. We took our coffee, tea, toast, and local jam in the majestic dining room along with a couple from Australia. Our hosts introduced themselves, the farm, and even let us feed the animals. Can you believe this house was transplanted from Auckland?