Hello – I’m home!
We got back on the evening of Friday 2 June and after unpacking, I spent the entire weekend buried under washing in the laundry. On the Monday I went for my second phase of root canal dental work. From Tuesday until Thursday I was over at Mum’s. Today is Saturday 10 June and I’ve finally found a little pocket of time to start putting together a post for the following Wednesday.
I absolutely loved every moment of my holiday in the South Island of New Zealand. Oh it was so sad though when it came to an end! Over coming weeks I’ll share posts on the various places we went and what we did, but for now, here’s 20 observations from a first time visitor to the South Island of New Zealand.
But first – as you read my list of 20 observations, some of you may think “derrr Min … who didn’t know that?!” but keep in mind I’m green, very green! lol My overseas travel consists of a trip to Singapore decades ago when my kids were in primary school and a South Pacific Cruise back in 2016 to Vanuatu and New Caledonia. That is it! So here we go, 20 of my very green observations as a first time visitor to the South Island of New Zealand.
- The South Island of New Zealand is BEAUTIFUL! Truly, everywhere we went took my breath away! A feast for my eyes and a balm for my soul.
- The sheep (mostly Merino) are like mountain goats – you’ll not only see them in flat paddocks but up the mountains standing on very steep slopes! How do they get up there and how do they not fall? And there are thousands and thousands and thousands of them everywhere.
- The public toilets are amazing! They are modern, efficient and clean. They talk to you and play you music and give you 10 minutes to do your business before they unlock. They also have a note as to when they were last cleaned and a phone number to call if there is anything amiss that needs attention.
- The people we encountered across the whole three weeks of our holiday were all lovely and friendly and very familiar with Australia and Brisbane having mostly all visited (except one guy who served us at a shop at Lake Tekapo who has Brisbane on his ‘bucket list’).
- We discovered ‘cheese rolls’ – a south island thing. We had our first and only try of them in a little town called Geraldine. I’ll write more about cheese rolls in a future post.
- The Maori culture is evident everywhere – the street names, the names of towns and lakes, and on television most towns etc are referred to first in Maori and then in English.
- There are so many lakes but not just average lakes – huge (extremely huge!) and beautiful lakes!
- There are lots of beautiful mountain ranges and when we were there – most were snow capped and stunning.
- There are lots of winding mountain roads with incredible views from them (which was a little distracting)!
- Everywhere we went we noticed a lot of New Zealand Flax (Phormium), Pampas Grass (see image above) and lots of hedges and wind breakers.
- Walking some of the many walking tracks is the best way to see the most stunning gems that nature has to offer over there.
- There are no snakes or spiders or any creatures at all to fear and that made walking out in the wilderness so much more relaxing. Such peace of mind!
- The glacial waters we saw were the most beautiful clear icy pale blue that I’ve ever seen.
- There are lots and lots and lots of one lane bridges all across the island, many of which were quaint and photo worthy!
- The roads are very well looked after and marked. They have some different road signs to us and we just figured a couple of them out towards the end of our trip!
- You can buy alcohol at the grocery store, and when we were at Lake Tekapo the grocery store there also had a little coffee stand/cafe in it where you could get a coffee!
- They have a pharmacy chain called ‘Antidote‘. I thought that was a very clever name!
- Tree ferns, which I’ve always associated as a plant for the tropics, grows and flourishes in the South Island of New Zealand. I’ll need to investigate this further but I’m thinking perhaps a different variety to what we have here in Queensland. Stay tuned!
- You see Merino & Possum Knitwear products everywhere! Possums are a pest in NZ and their fur is used in combination with merino wool for a lot of knitwear products. Possum Merino is a blend of possum fur and superfine New Zealand Merino wool with a texture similar to cashmere – luxuriously soft, incredibly lightweight, exceptionally warm and easy to wear. It won’t pill, it won’t wrinkle, it’s anti-static and is an innovative and practical market solution to an environmental challenge facing New Zealand. This is a way they can help to control the number of possums in NZ in order to protect the native wildlife, flora and fauna. The possums in NZ, whilst similar to ours here in Australia, are apparently a little different to our bushy tailed possums.
- We heard stories about wild wallabies introduced to NZ from Australia back in the late 1800’s (mainly for hunting and for people with private zoos apparently!) that are now considered pests because they are destroying their native biodiversity and productive lands. They’re particularly found in the rural area around Waimate but are spreading. They have no natural predators in NZ. I’m an animal lover so the fact possums and wallabies are pests in NZ was sad to hear but I understand and accept the measures they need to take to ethically control the situation.
I left a big chunk of my heart in the south island of New Zealand. As you can imagine, being the nature lover that I am, I was in heaven over there! We did a lot of walking which took us to places that truly took my breath away. I am not a very fit person but I climbed many steep hills and hundreds and hundreds of stairs and it was worth every bit of effort for how it made me feel and what I got to see and experience.
I love the time of year we were there too. It was cool which I like but not too cold. We got to see some snow capped mountains and even some icebergs. We got to experience the late Autumn leaves still on many trees and carpeted on the ground in many places – such a feast of colours for the eyes. Here’s just a few small samples of the beautiful scenery you can encounter as you drive around the south island of New Zealand. I have many short video snippets so it was hard to choose just a few (ok I ended up with five lol)!
Three weeks though is the longest holiday I can ever remember having. For many, many years now we have just had a few nights away here and there, sometimes 5. The longest holiday I can recall was 11 days in Tasmania in 2015. The three weeks was long enough for me to completely unwind and relax and boy it felt so good. It was a good reminder to us that longer holidays are necessary to have more frequently. They’re so good for us!
My plans to do my travel journal/art in the evenings kind of went pear shaped. I started strong in Christchurch and got quite a bit done. Where we stayed had a nice little table with two chairs and very good lighting. Also – I was fresh, and keen! Then the next place we stayed for one night at Hokitika had very poor lighting and it had been a big day and I was too tired so I did a pencil sketch and thought I’d catch up at the next stop. Next stop was Fox Glacier. Can’t remember what was the problem there but I’ve just written a little note on a page of what to draw and thought I’ll catch up on both at the next stop. Next we were at Wanaka. This time, regardless of the fact I was tired, I decided to do a couple of sketches to represent our stay in Wanaka while fresh in mind and get back to the others at another time. I did two sketches at Wanaka – one is ok, the other is not good at all (I was way too tired). After the Wanaka sketch I wasn’t happy with because I was so tired, I decided to give myself a break. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. We were having huge big days that were very physical (walking and climbing etc) and were exhausted at night and a lot of the places we stayed at did not have a suitable place for me to set up and/or didn’t have good enough lighting. I was also posting NZ highlights every evening on both my private Facebook and blog Instagram/FB pages which took up a lot of time and effort. So, my plan now is to continue my travel sketchbook at home from photographs I took. It will still get completed.
I think to do a sketching holiday where you sketch as you go you need to do it during your days and dedicate time to it and to do that you need to either travel by yourself or with other sketching/painting buddies!
I’m so grateful to have had such a beautiful holiday. I need to plan the next one now!
More posts on my South Island of New Zealand holiday to come. Meanwhile, if you’re on Instagram here’s a ‘reel’ that give a series of snapshots of the wonderful holiday we had. It goes for 1 minute and 10 seconds.
If you’re not on Instagram, here’s the reel on YouTube as a ‘short’ but it cuts the last 10 seconds off unfortunately as ‘shorts’ are restricted to 60 seconds.
Till next time!
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Denyse Whelan’s ‘Wednesday’s Words and Pics‘