South Island

Arthurs Pass. It’s a crisp morning with clear blue skies. The sun is slowly rising, sending rays of warm light down into the valley below. Following a winding path up the mountain, we hear the sound of rushing water as we approach a great waterfall named after Hinekakai,  a woman known for her skills in weaving. The waters of Te Tautea o Hinekakai are known as her “weaving waters.”

Today is the first day of our road trip in the South Island of New Zealand. Breathing in the fresh mountain air – I feel at home. Autumn is on its way and it feels as though I am coming into my element again.

After our walk to the waterfall, we grab a coffee and a bite to eat, before hopping in the car and setting off for our next destination. Rachael, my road tripping buddy, has been one of my closest friends for over 20 years. Sharing this adventure with her has been so much fun, and we have been laughing the whole way!

Hokitika. A small town by the west coast where we stopped for lunch and a walk along the beach. 

Our next stop for the night was at Franz Josef where we stayed at the backpackers. The next morning we went for a walk to see the Franz Josef Glacier. Walking along the rocky path, I felt like a guest in the valley of mountain kings, gazing down at us in their cloaks of clouds and waterfalls.

After a long winding drive in the rain, we finally arrived at our next stop for the night in Wanaka. We stayed at the Te Wanaka Lodge, and after two nights of staying at backpackers it was so nice with the luxury of our own room! The sun was shining the next morning, and we went for a walk by Wanaka Lake, where the leaves on the trees were beginning to turn gold. For lunch we ate sandwiches by the lake, enjoying the sunshine. Wanaka is such a beautiful place!

After our lazy morning in Wanaka, we hit the road and set off for our next destination – Aoraki Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand at 3,724 metres (12,218 feet). Aoraki is considered to be a sacred mountain and ancient ancestor of the Ngai Tahu. We were lucky enough to catch Aoraki on a clear day when he felt like putting on a show.

Aoraki does not always 'come' out for visitors to see, just as a great chief is not always giving audience, or on 'show'. It is for Aoraki to choose when to emerge from his cloak of mist, a power and influence that is beyond mortals, symbolising the mana of Aoraki. (reference)

We spent two nights at Mount Cook Village. During our first day it was raining and I had to rest my foot from a nasty blister. But on our last day before leaving we went for a walk to see the Tasman Glacier Lake.

One week is far too short but I am still so happy that I finally got to see the South Island! When I grew up on the North Island, I never got the chance to go down south as we would almost always travel to Sweden to visit family for the holidays. I have met so many North Islanders that have never been to the South Island, and it is easy to become blind to what is closest to home. 
Looking back, I can still feel the ancient power and breath-taking beauty of the mountains, waterfalls and lakes. I felt so at home down south, and I look forward to exploring more next time. Aotearoa, you are so beautiful, and I am so lucky to call you home. 
Thank you Rachael for sharing this trip and making it something to remember for a long time!


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