There are many must – do things in New Zealand and a decent trip around and across the country is certainly one of them! There are many ways to travel as well. You can hire a car, a camper van, use a helicopter or an airplane, go on a bus, hitchhike, bike your way around, etc. or... even kayak around the islands just like some guys I met on the coast were doing! When I was a little kid I was really into cars, in fact, I was so into them that I could tell the make and model of every car that would be passing through on the street. Therefore, for my road trip across “The Middle – Earth“ I decided to hire a camper van – a Spaceship!
No, I am not crazy - it was a spaceship and it was called “Hawkins“, named after one very cool and super smart person in the world!... It was one of those orange camper vans that you can rent from.
A very cold Wednesday morning was when I started my trip from the cosy Nomads Queenstown, with two fellow co – pilots by my side, to head to Mount Cook village – that was our first destination and we managed to reach it safely.
The reason why I mention safety is because we were quite (un)lucky to be caught right in the middle of a snow storm that left heaps of snow everywhere in central – eastern New Zealand. Yes, in places it made driving slightly more complicated as we went “Mr. Cheap“ and didn‘t have snow chains, but hey – that‘s just the extra spice to the trip! (I do advise paying a little extra for snowchains if you're travelling in winter however!)
On the other hand, we got to see the different New Zealand fully covered in snow which I must say is absolutely stunning and just even more wild than usual which is what I love so much about this country.
Staring at Mount Cook was a breathtaking experience and so was Kaikoura – arguably one of the most beautiful places for me in the South Island combining the ocean spirit and the mysterious mountains, not to mention all the marine wildlife like seals chilling on the road!
After Kaikoura we moved up north to Picton where my spaceship co – pilots had to leave and proceed with their own missions and I, the lonely astronaut, worked my way through Abel Tasman to Cape Farewell - the most North Western point of the South Island.
The beach and the sand dunes out there were absolutely gorgeous!
The next destination was simply The West Coast – a beautiful drive right on the shores of the Pacific Ocean passing through the towns and all sorts of “stop and look“ destinations.
The walks at the Glacier Country are simply must – do activities on a trip like this. The valleys and the glaciers themselves as you get closer just makes one realize how small a human is in this planet and how powerful mother Nature can be, not to mention it is a very beautiful sight as well.
As my astronaut’s days were coming to an end I drove my last stretch through Haast and my god... what a road that is, definitely one of the top 10 roads in the world as some friendly Kiwi told me.
Finally I arrived in Wanaka and then I was back in Queenstown warmly welcomed home at Nomads Queenstown, full of positive energy and inspiration, it’s true – nature does that to you! I cannot stress the importance of such trip for every traveler in New Zealand – pick your transport and get going - it is an absolutely incomparable experience.
All in all, I’ve had an amazing time travelling around in a Spaceship! I never thought that a man of 6’8 can comfortably fit in a medium sized van like this one, but I was wrong - I actually had an amazing sleep every single night.
And it’s just the way everything’s been thought of in those Spaceships, such as a cord for an IPod or even a mini DVD player! Seriously, the first time I saw it I was quite skeptical like “Why would I even stay in the car and watch DVD on a road trip!?”, however… on those cold and lonely nights… The DVD player is actually a superb addition when you head to bed early during road trips and just don’t feel like sleeping yet, trust me, the 86’ “Star Trek” is the best cure!
I am not even going to write about the car handling and driving aspects as they are both amazing – the van is very easy to drive, has sonar for easy parking and a very smooth automatic gearbox – what else do you need?
BABY SEAL APPROVED!