Roadtrip around New Zealand
I am Gonzalo Pasquier, photographer, adventure and nature lover. I am lucky to work at Blue Banana and to be able to share my travels/journeys/trips, and the ones of other adventurers like me, so they can inspire you to plan yours.
This time I show you a trip to one of the most special countries I have ever visited, New Zealand.
New Zealand is a country located in the southwest of the Pacific Ocean, close to Australia and to all those tropial paradises we see on Instagram. Lika Tahiti, where a worlwide event is held by the WSL (World Surf League, for those unculterd), or Moorea, a lost island where the influencers take pictures with rays and sharks in dreamy turquoise waters.
Anyway, I'll talk about those places another day. This post is about the best motorhome trip I've ever done in my life, and it was in the south island of New Zealand.
The places we visited were the following ones (links to the days):
Day 1: Arrival in Queenstown, a beer and relax with the town's views.
Day 2: We rented the van and headed to Milford Sound, stopping at Wakatipu lake and 4752323 other places, because everything was too beautiful not to.
Day 3 : Morning fine and headed to Glenorchy, a town we hadn't planned to visit.
Day 4: The most improvised excursion of the trip and, without a doubt, the best one; Mount Alfred
Day 5: Regain strength with good views at Rob Royce Glacier National Park
Day 6: Lost our minds going up 2200 steps in Aoraki National Park
Day 7: We rested and enjoyed Tekapo Lake in the morning, and ended up seeing seals 3 hours away from the lake with a car instead of the motorhome
Day 8: We returned home, Australia.
I'm leaving you my MyMaps so you can place yourself better:
Like all cool trips, this one was also unplanned , but because we had no other choice. We took everything 1 week in advance due to the motorhome rental, which worked as follows:
The thing is that there are many car rental companies that offer a service called ''relocation'', by which they give you a limited number of days to take one of their vehicles from one place to another for a lower price. That's because most travelers make a reversed version of the trip we did, i.e. they rent the motor home in Christchurch and end it in Queenstown. This means that many rental vehicles are gathered in Queenstown, and as a solution, companies are offering the reverse route for a much lower price. However, the days are limited (from 5 to 8 in our case) and the offers are published on short notice and run out very quickly.
To give you an idea,we paid 600 dollars for an 8 day rental with unlimited mileage and full insurance. We were five, so it was about 70 euros per person/ each??, a bargain for a country like New Zealand!
The website where we rented the motorhome was this one:
You will see that they also offer to start on the southern island with the ferry already paid, if you are on time, I would not think it twice!
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN QUEENSTOWN, BEER AND RELAX WITH THE TOWN´S VIEWS
Once we got to book the relocation, we booked the tickets and set off to Queenstown, the adventure sports town. You can do anything: skydiving, rafting, paragliding, mountain bike, water skiing and snow sports during Winter. Come on, a Paradise for any adrenaline addict! But we did none hahaha
We arrived to Queenstown a day before the rental, as the flights were cheaper and so we could visit the town in the meantime. For beiing the first stop, it wasn´t bad at all, not to mention that it was the most beautiful town we have ever seen. We went for a walk and had a beer, the quietest day without a doubt!
That night we slept in a cheap hostel downtown called Base backpackers Queenstown. The next day we woke up early to check-in for the motor home, do the grocery and head the southern fjords.
DAY 2: WE RENTED A VAN AND HEADED TO MILFORD SOUND, STOPPING AT WAKATIPU LAKE AND 4752323 MORE PLACES BECAUSE EVERYTHING WAS TOO BEAUTIFUL NOT TO.
We woke up at 6am, and while some went grocery shopping, the others went to pick-up the motor home. At 10 am we were already heading to Milford Sound, the only spot accesible by car in the fjords, and the only one tan can be visited in 1 day.
There are routes trough the fjords that start in Milford Sound and lead to waterfalls and willd lakes, but you have to spend 3 or 4 days, and it isn't cheap, as I said, get the idea that New Zealand is expensive!
Anyway, on our way to Milford Spound we stopped at Wakatipu Lake. The water was as clear as cold, but we dived in anyway. Who knows if we were going to be back there!
The exact same spot where we stopped is highly recommended. It was an area of the lake with sand, so it was like a beach. We could park the van right in front of the water. It is called Kingston Lake Camp.
After a quick dip and a good plate of pasta with tomato sauce to inaugurate the roadtrip, we continued our way to the fjords.
We stopped a million times because every place we saw seemed more beautiful than the previous one. But that's what it's all about, isn't it? The picture above is in Egliton valley.
We arrived late, and what a good thing, we had it all to ourselves, look how great it was:
Aside from the spectacular landscape, there are boats in Milford Sund that leave every hour to take you on a ride along the fjord to the open sea. They are not expensive and luckily you can see dolphins and seals. Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was already closed but at least there was no one around… you can´t have everything in this life!
That night we planned to sleep in a campsite nearby, but we went without reservation and it was full. They sent us to another campsite that was half an hour away. When we got there, they told us it was full too (you can´t call because there is no signal) once again, they sent us to another one 45 minutes away, but we were so tired that we decided to look for a field and sleep in the first one we saw, and that´s what we did.
DAY 3: MORNIGN FINE AND HEADING TO GLENORCHY, A TOWN WE HADN´T PLANNED TO GO TO.
Very early in the morning, we found out that it was ilegal. A police patrol woke us up at 6 a.m to give us a ticket for sleeping outside a campsite in an area where free camping was not allowed. We gladly pay 40$ and moved to our next destination, Glenorchy.
Glenorchy is a small town near Queenstown, where we hadn't planned to go to, but when we were almost landing we saw from the plane that there was a mountain in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rivers that flowed into a huge lake and snow-covered mountains.
We decided to find and climb that mountain, and so we did. We googled the á area and found what we were looking for, Mount Alfred. We added it into the second day's Schedule.
The nearest town was Glenorchy, this time we booked on a campsite with a few hours in advanced and we went there. What we didn´t know was the road to get there. It was
We stopped a few times along the way, and got to Glenorchy. That night we had dinner very early and went to sleep, Mount Alfred was waiting for us and from what we were told, was no small feat!
The campsite was called Mrs Wolly's Campground.
DAY 4: THE MOST IMPROVISED EXCURSION OF THE TRIP AND, WITHOUT A DOUBT, THE BEST ONE: MOUNT ALFRED.
We woke up at 6 a.m, to vary. We had a good breakfast and went to the starting pint of the hike, that was 15 minutes away from the village. These are the coordinates:
It was a very exhausting excursion, but as we gained altitude and saw more and more landscape we didn´t stop until we got to the top. There´s no need to tell you it was amazing! On one side we had the Alps, and on the other, the Wakatipu Lake; in between there were a lot of turquoise waterways that seemed as if they were painted.
We ate on the top and went down calmly, very tired after almost 3 hours uphill and more tan 1000 meters of altitude. We arrived at the campsite and after regaining our strenght with a good nap, we headed to our next destination, Rob Royce Glacier Natinal Park. We had only a few days left and there was no time to lose!
That night we slept in the parking lot of the National Park, which had bathrooms and is legal. The last stretch (almost 1 hour) was not paved and had to take it easy. We arrived at night, and while one of us was driving, the rest of us were upstairs watching the stars and looking at the deers and rabbits hide as we passed by.
DAY 5: REGAINED STRENGHT WITH GOOD VIEWS AT ROB ROYCE GLACIER NATIONAL PARK.
The next day we took it more slowly, it was the beginning of the trip and we were devastated already. It was the time for a quieter excursión, 2 hours roundtrip to see the glacier and a waterfall, and as expected, it didn't disappoint! The suspensión bridge you can see on the video looked like was out of an Indiana Jones movie.
We spent the afternoon resting in the meadows, and at the last minutes we set off to Aoraki National Park, one of the most famous places in the South Island and in New Zealand for having the highest peak in the whole country. Mount Cook, 3724 meters. What an atrocity!
DAY 6: LOST OUR MINDS GOING UP 2200 STEPS IN AORAKI NATIONAL PARK
There were a lot of posible excursions to do troughout the National Park, but the common and most popular for being the one that requires less physical effort and rewards with amazing views, it's the Hooker Valley track. The valley is 5 kilometres long and 100 meters of slope. But we didn't go to the most famous National Park of New Zealand for going on a walk, so we chose Sealy tarns track, a very steep route, with exactly 2200 steps, which offered the best views of the valley, with the glacier and Mount Cook in the background. We had accumulated more tan 2000 meters of grade in 3 days. We lost our minds, but we didn´t think to stop until taking the plane back home!
Exhausted but very happy, we ended up the excursión and booked a campingsite close to Tekapo Lake, the next spot we were visiting.
Once we got to the campsite (Tekapo Motels & Holiday Park) we took a shower and while playing cards and having some beers we fell asleep. That night we slept like groundhogs.
DAY 7: WE RESTED AND ENJOYED TEKAPO LAKE IN THE MORNING, ENDED UP WATCHING SEALS 3 HOURS AWAY FROM THE LAKE, BY CAR INSTEAD OF THE MOTORHOME.
For the next day we hadn't planned any excursion, we just wanted to visit the Tekapo Lake and, if the weather was good, we planned to take a dip, to sunbathe, and to eat outdoors by the water. That's what we did, the water seemed fake because it was a blue that none of us had ever seen before.
We spent the last day peacefully in the motorhome, and we arrived near Christchurch's airport to check-out.
But the trip didn't end there, we had the flight the next day! It was all planned. We returned the van and rented a car from a rental company that was right across the Street (they were all placed near the airport) and we headed to Kaikoura, a two hours drive from where we were. Kaikoura is a famous coastal village, known for it's marine life. Depending on the season killer whales, sperm whales and dolphins can be seen, even penguins! But we weren't there for any of them, we went to see the seal's colony that lives at Cape Kaikoura, which is free!
Honestly, we would have died for seeing whales and dolphins, but we knew the prices and they weren't cheap. But, if you can afford it, I recommend you to do it from a light aircraft. If you like these things, it can be the best experience of your life.
Here I leave you the link of a Company that offers this spectacular service:
As soon as we arrived to Kaikoura we went straight to see the seals, it was almost sunset and there was no time to lose. There were a lot, probably more than 100, and the babies were all gathered in a sort of a natural pool, playing and screaming. We were so stoked to see them in their natural hábitat.
This is the location of the colony: Paninsula Walkway, Kaikoura 7300, New Zealand.
After that, we went back to the hostel (Dusky Lodge backpackers) and enjoyed our last night in New Zealand. Very happy for the experience we had lived, and "sad" because we had to go back home… but being honest, we were living in Australia, se we couldn't complain either!
DAY 8: WE RETURN HOME, AUSTRALIA.
Final touch, coming back home from New Zealand without having a 30 hours flight. In just 3 hours we were home, and without jetlag!
Gonzalo Pasquier is a young Spanish adventurer and photographer. He lives by and for travel, and his photographs are inspired by his passion for nature. At Blue Banana we are very lucky to have him on our team, and his mission is none other than to make the new adventure a reality and to capture it in our brand through content with a point of view of its own, which goes to the next level. This is not about what we do but how we do it. And Gonzalo Pasquier is in charge of proving it.