Castle Hill

An hour out of Christchurch, on the Arthur’s Pass road, and this area of amazing rocks was our final trip out in New Zealand.

It looks pretty spectacular from the road and makes you want to go and run around in it

Climb the rocks

Hide in the rock holes

Walking to get the views

Relaxing

And generally enjoying the views

What a great day to finish our New Zealand trip with !

Around Wanaka

So we decided on Wanaka for the final week of our big New Zealand trip. We knew we liked it as a place, and feeling pretty exhausted by this point, a place we could relax. Whilst we were here the first snows arrived on the tops!

We got an Air B&B house with a garden and set about having a few easier days.

The Bike

There are some great bike tracks that run along the lakeside, and some mountain bike tracks that connect up with them.

Evie has taken to bringing her helmet to me to indicate that she wants to go out on the bike, and if she can’t go on the bike, she also loves riding the washing basket!

We went off a few times along these lovely paths with great views and even had a go at one of the tracks but we had to go super slow so she wasn’t bouncing all over the place.

On one track we came across this little hedgehog that was collapsing. We fed it some of Evie’s milk which it stood on its hind legs and caught the drops, and left it some food in the hope it survives (to later discover they are considered pests in New Zealand).

Rob Roy Glacier

Up over 30km of gravel road and through a couple of fords, you arrive at the car park for the Rob Roy glacier track and the Mt Hutt track.

With beautiful views even driving to the car park, it’s a walk that remains spectacular throughout.

Over a swing bridge and up through forest. There are a couple of impressive rock overhangs that you wouldn’t want to walk underneath at the wrong moment.

A river with massive boulders.

An impressively high waterfall

And then the beautiful glacier. Here Evie demonstrates her new mountaineering skills clambering over rocks and along footpaths, showing utter determination at ever stumble!

Back down, noting the geology of the mountainsides, more lovely scenery.

It’s clearly exhausting!

Swimming

Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea are beautiful lakes to swim in. Absolutely crystal clear, a refreshing dip in these is a must if you love swimming.

The Blue Pools

An hours drive from Wanaka, these were not (in our opinion) worth driving to. Stopping at if you are headed along this road up the west coast then definitely yes.

They are about a 10 minute walk from the road, but the are stunning – the water clarity is something else again.

To make matters worse for our long drive out, this is one of the only, and the worst places, where we have terrorised by sandflies! Enough that all you wanted to do was get back to the safety of the car.

Mt Iron

A short walk just on the edge of Wanaka up a small hill. However, although the hill is small, the 360 degrees panorama is big with great views all around.

Wanaka town

A small and touristy town sitting at the end of the lake, with a gorgeous backdrop, some nice cafes to sit and enjoy the view from and lots of outdoor shops. There were also parks and a great skateboard park – this was Evie’s favourite place to hang out in town!

Banks Peninsula

A bit of a longer drive to get here than anticipated from Christchurch – it looks so close on the map.

It was worth the drive though. After driving up the saddle road we decided to descend down to Duvauchelle and walk the short peninsula. Little did we know that the rocks were going to have such amazing patterns.

After this we drove up and over to Okaine Beach for Evie to have a walk

And to enjoy a swim.

It was sadly then time to head back again, but nice to see it and definitely worth a longer visit.

Abel Tasman and Golden Bay

So the four of us set off to the Abel Tasman region for a few days to see this beautiful spot.

Kaiteriteri

Our first stop was Kaiteriteri, where if you catch it right, is lots of fun. The is an tidal inlet that empties a basin into the sea as the tide turns to low tide.

The sides to this as so steep that you can run off the beach and dive into the water.

Then, once the flow picks up, if you walk to the other side of the bridge and get in you can float with the flow all the way out to sea. For a period of time you get a natural fun wave machine in the sea (although you also need to watch the pull of the tide which is strong).

Taking turns to Evie watch the 3 of us adults took turns in enjoying this tidal fun until it came to a natural end and the flow stopped.

Hawkes Bay Lookout

Driving up the Takaka Hill there are stunning views down below. Stopping off at Hawkes Bay Lookout, a 5 min walk from the car you get a big view back down over Motueka and Nelson.

The House – Upper Takaka Farm Stay

So we stayed in a house that wasn’t ideally located for where we wanted to go to, but it did have amazing turkeys, cockerels that liked to wake you up at dawn, and red deer that the owners took us to see and pet.

And an amazing nights sky.

Collingwood

A nice small old town, a good place for a cafe stop on the drive northwards.

Wharariki Beach

At the top of Golden Bay just west of Farewell Spit there is a nice walk to a beautiful beach with sand so hot that it hurts to walk even in open sandals. There are notices advising against swimming in the sea, so we didn’t dip despite being boiled. With some nice rock formations, and baby seals enjoying the waters, it made for a pleasant walk.

Just round the corner by car there is also this impressive arch to see from above.

Waikoropupu Springs

Also within Golden Bay are these stunningly clear waters. Unbelievably beautiful, how nice it would be to swim in these, but not allowed.

Pohara Beach

We didn’t stop for long here, but long enough for Evie to have a paddle. Lovely as it was, we had a different destination in mind for the day.

Wainui Falls

A short walk in through forest and over a swing bridge, you arrive at the Wainui Falls. A refreshing dip either at the falls themselves or in one of the many river pools, though not really a place for babies to have any freedom. Luckily for us Evie seemed amused enough to observe people from the backpack and sleep!

Totos cafe

On a gravel road between the Wainui falls and Totaranui is a cafe which was great. Had hammocks, lovely smoothies and amazing sounding pizzas (not sampled by us on this occasion).

Aranui Beach

The guy at Totos cafe said this was his favourite beach in the Abel Tasman, and easily accessible by foot. Parking at Totaranui it was an hours walk through the forest and then you popped out on to this beautiful beach.

Between us we enjoyed swimming, paddling and climbing the rocks.

Kayaking

Something not to be missed in the Abel Tasman, although clearly you can’t take a baby out on the water. Evie did still enjoy exploring the boat though.

Whilst Omi & me kayaked around the shore and into beautiful bays, Tim & Evie walked, and we arranged to meet in Apple Tree Bay for lunch. A shorter than anticipated kayak for us, and longer than anticipated walk for Tim!

Still we all enjoyed the water once again for a refreshing dip before heading back to Marahau.

Split Apple Rock

Although one on ‘the things to see’, this beach is not actually signposted from the road. When we did finally find the road and parked up, it was a descent down to the beach but a worthwhile descent.

The rock does look like, well an apple split in half. A nice final beach to finish our Abel Tasman trip.

Nelson

Nelson for us was one of a bit of down time, staying with Richard and Janette, some family friends, who got to meet Evie for the first time. We spent our time enjoying their company and then Evie’s Omi came out to join us for a week.

We spent a lovely afternoon in nearby Mapua, where if you are a confident swimmer you can jump off the jetty and go with the fast flow for a bit! We also did a spot of wine tasting

Enjoying the Nelson Saturday markets, full of local crafts and foods, it wouldn’t be hard to spend a lot of money here.

The cafes in a buzzing Trafalgar Square, with buskers to help you while away an hour with a drink.

There is a modern cathedral with an interesting open bell tower so you can see the bells.

We had a wander around their botanical gardens. Not huge, but pretty.

And we tried to go to the middle of New Zealand, but we couldn’t get there due to the fires and the high risk (there was even someone employed to stop anyone going up, so we took Evie to the park instead.

Followed by a lovely meal out as a thanks to Richard and Janette for having Evie rampage around their place for so long.

An afternoon at the Tahanui beach Dropping Omi back at the airport up to continue on with her trip to Australia, and we have just a couple more weeks left in NZ.

Not before enjoying our final views over Nelson from Richard & Janette’s house

What a lovely few days

Queen Charlotte Track – our 5 day walk

An early start to catch the 8am Cougar boat out of Picton, we head out across the sounds with a nice cup of tea towards Ships Cove.

Ships Cove, where Captain Cook first landed, is a beautiful cove. Once the boat had left us there all that was left was the beautiful waters, a Maori carving and a memorial to Cook.

A steep climb up out of Ships Cove and we were away through beautiful ancient forest, one of the best parts of forest of the whole walk.

We met our first Wekas shortly into the walk and thought it was very special, until we realised there are quite a few cheeky ones along the walk who were very interested in our lunches!

The forest was beautiful

With the occasional view popping out along the track

After some lunch

We continued on

And we got to our accommodation at Endeavour Inlet by 1.30.

Here we were met by the friendliest of friendly families. Steve & Pernille had taken their kids out of school for a ‘year out’ for the whole family and were renting part of their house. Within minutes of arriving they asked if we wanted to go out fishing with them. So after a drink and a dip, we set off blue cod fishing out in the bay.

A couple of hours and 4 blue cod ‘keepers’ later (two of which Tim caught) we headed back in.

And then they invited us to have dinner with them, to eat the fish we caught.

What a good nosh up – they even opened some bubbly. As well as the amazing food, it was brilliant for Evie as the kids happily played with her for hours.

Sad to leave the next morning (we took our time getting going), we set off again walking the next 15km around the coastline, to get to Punga Cove (which we could see from our 1st nights accommodation!).

The inside of a tree fern

Evie tries to get herself along the trail!

More beautiful forest and a few wekas later we sighted the bar at Punga Cove!

And we made it – to our little house in the trees.

The downside of our accommodation was there was nowhere to cook the food we were carrying. The upside was they did awesome pizza! And they had a great lawn for Evie to run around on looking out at a gorgeous backdrop.

The next day was a climb up up and up onto the Torrea Saddle. Thankfully we met Ian who was going to collect our bags on the way, as I had forgotten about his instructions to find his place and in my head we were walking a lot further than we actually did.

A walk mainly of forest, more undulating than you would expect for being on a saddle, there were a few points with spectacular views over the Sounds.

We descended very steeply to our accommodation, Ngahere Hou. Getting to the bottom we immediately commented how we really didn’t fancy climbing back up there in the heat of the morning. However it was worth the descent as the stay was another highlight of our walk!

Welcomed by Ian, we were shown to our ‘summerhouse’ room and the shared kitchen, compost loo and open air shower. He offered to take us down to the beach but we were too tired for that. So we stayed and relaxed in the hammocks instead.

Already there staying in the yurt were a lovely Danish family, and their oldest daughter doted on Evie, so she happily had a playmate for our stay.

Come the evening, Ian came and lit the wood fired hot tub, we watched a glorious sunset, then at 9.30 he came back and took us to see the glow worms on his land. Absolute magic, sitting in the pitch black by a little stream, surrounded by glow worms. An experience never to be forgotten.

Solving the problem of the climb back up and a day longer than we thought enjoyable, Ian kindly dropped us at Portage Bay and then we just had the up & down to Te Maria. A drink, swim, tea, Evie walk and bed, all pretty tired by now.

Day 5 to get to Anakiwa – a much flatter walk, some nice views, older forest again. Finding we had hours to spare, we stopped in a bay very close to the end and gave Evie a run and a snack, holding out for a well deserved cafe at the end.

The cafe turned out to be a small caravan that just did drinks and ice-cream – and it was closed!! We finished too early! A swim to cool off and then finally at 4pm the boat arrived. The end of our Queen Charlotte Track walk.

Our thoughts – not as interesting with regards views & landscapes as anticipated, you have to really love walking in forest, for hours, being deafened by the beating of circada wings. It was hillier than expected, which makes for hard work when carrying a bean. The views were few and far between and only in small gaps in the trees, as were the occasions when the track met the sea.

However, the forests were amazing and the views were spectacular. So maybe just one day shorter would have been about right!