A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

Saturday, 26 January 2019

New Zealand 2019 Travel Diary // Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook, Lake Pukaki & Cromwell

After a lovely month of staying at my sister's I set off in the campervan with Liam a couple of weekends ago. We had four nights to fit in a few places before we needed to be in Dunedin for a housesitting job and today I thought I'd tell you about those few days.

As a quick sidenote, if you're thinking of travelling around New Zealand in a campervan or camping, I highly recommend breaking it up with housesitting jobs if you've got the time. We've only done the one so far but we've got another one lined up for late February. The 'job' is super easy. With our Dunedin one, we get to stay in a lovely house with an insane view of the beach, eat the food they left for us, and all we have to do is feed their animals so we can do whatever we want pretty much in the day in the local area. It's also given us a week in a proper bed and has been perfect because it's allowed us to plan out our next few months of travel - which I'm super excited about. You do have to get a working holiday visa to be able to do it because even though you don't get paid, any kind of benefit to you i.e. free accommodation/food counts as a form of payment under New Zealand immigration guidelines. But, to be honest, it pays for itself when you consider how much per night you'd be paying to stay in a proper house. Anyway, if you're interested the website we've been using to find jobs is Kiwi House Sitters and we've been really happy with it.

Anyway, back to our few days in the van...

LAKE TEKAPO :: We started by driving to Lake Tekapo and had two nights there. The weather in Christchurch had been rubbish when we'd left it so I was over the moon to find that the sun was out and beaming in Tekapo. For our first afternoon we went for a walk, doing the Mt John Summit Circuit Track which leads to *incredible* views of the lake - just look at the colour of that water ^. It's a ninety-minute walk round trip but when we were at the top we decided to take a different walk down which meant that it ended up being around a three hour walk. It was just beautiful and I'd really recommend it. On our second day the weather was a bit hit or miss so we decided to go to the Tekapo Hot Pools and they were really nice. Not anywhere near as good as the Hanmer Springs pools if you ask me, but still good. Especially since we went after Liam forced me to have a dip in the freezing lake with him and running straight to the thermal pools from that was the only thing that made going in the lake bearable! Apart from that on the second day we pretty much just relaxed and finished planning our next few days. Tekapo's an amazing place to visit and definitely worth stopping in.

MOUNT COOK :: After Tekapo we headed to Mount Cook for a night. Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain and it's surrounded by the Tasman Glacier Lake. We did three walks in the area and it was really beautiful. The first two walks were super easy and quick - the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View walks - but had great views. The best walk though is undoubtedly the Hooker Valley Track. It's a three hour return walk and pretty easy and it's where I got that perfect insta shot after some convincing (thanks Liam). A top tip would be to do it either early in the morning or in the evening before sunset because it's super busy and the water looks incredible in the light when the sun is setting. I really enjoyed it and we were lucky with the weather for it as well.

LAKE PUKAKI AND TWIZEL :: The next day we stopped in Lake Pukaki and later a in town called Twizel. It was absolutely boiling that day but we managed some good walks (still so proud of myself for that). If I thought the water at Lake Tekapo was blue the water at Lake Pukaki was something else. It was just stunning and I still can't get over its colour. After a quick walk directly along the lake we did the Pukaki Kettle Hole Track which was a lovely walk giving us more amazing views of Lake Pukaki. We then had some lunch and headed to a town called Twizel and did their 9km 'Twizel Walkway' walk. It's quite a nice walk but didn't compare to the Hooker Valley Track from the day before. We had a great day though nonetheless!

BENDIGO AND CROMWELL :: On the day we were heading to this housesitting job we sort of had some time to kill with nothing that was abundantly clear to us to do. But after some good googling (again, thanks Liam) we found a couple of places which would pretty much be on our way to Dunedin anyway. The first was Bendigo which is on the Dunstan Mountains and is a bit of a ghost town - it used to be a mining town and there are lots of ruins from when it was in use but now no one at all lives there and it's an area of conservation. It's pretty cool to see and had some amazing views although, again it was boiling and I felt slightly like I was dying. After exploring that we headed to a little town called Cromwell and did one of my favourite activities: wine tasting. We stopped at Misha's Vineyard and for $10 each (about £5) you get to try five different wines each. The staff there were lovely and I couldn't get over how cheap it actually worked out. The wine was great (I can't pretend to know a lot about wines except for being able to comment on whether I like them or not) and I ended up drinking the majority of ten wine tastings because Liam was driving and so didn't want to have too much wine. Of course I left a little tipsy and proceeded to have a nap when we got back in the car to head to Dunedin... we definitely need to do a couple more before we leave New Zealand.

And since then we've been staying in Dunedin to do our housesitting job. When you're reading this we'll have left that and are heading to Te Anau, Milford Sounds, Queenstown, Wanaka and more, I'm so excited! I'm actually quite looking forward to getting back in the van. It's so perfect for the way we're travelling, the bed's comfy and the diet of rice and beans actually isn't all that bad. I hope you've enjoyed the first couple of these travel posts, I'll try to be back with more sooner rather than later but we'll see how that goes. I hope you all have a great weekend!

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