New Zealand – The South Island

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The South Island has truly diverse and magnificent landscapes – the perfect place for an epic road trip!

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We explored braided rivers, snow-topped peaks, turquoise-blue lakes, and sun-drenched beaches as we drove through some of New Zealand’s most spectacular countryside on the South Island. There are rainforests and abundant birdlife, primeval rock formations, and quaint, small towns to be discovered.

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A friendly South Island Robin.

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Hiking to Franz Josef Glacier.

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The Franz Josef Glacier road trippers a rare opportunity to experience a dynamic glacial environment, in a temperate environment, while being within easy walking distance from the main highway. Franz Josef Glacier area has some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand. The glacier descends from the tops of the Southern Alps into rainforest close to sea level.

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One couple, one campervan, one unforgettable road trip around New Zealand.

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Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. Milford Sound is breathtaking in any weather. Wet or fine, Milford Sound is incredibly grand. Mitre Peak magnetizes photographers, and the fiord’s sheer cliffs excite both admiration and apprehension.

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The fiord’s cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky and waterfalls cascade downwards, some as high as 1000 metres. When it rains in Milford Sound, and it often does, those waterfalls multiply with magnificent effect.

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“For thousands of feet upwards the eye looks upon straight cut rocky frontages, not worn smooth by time, or by wind or water, but as sharply defined and as fresh looking in all respects as if riven asunder but yesterday by the stupendous wedges of Titanic Masons.“

– James Hingston 1883

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A Rare Fiordland Crested Penguin.

There was a real buzz when we first saw the penguins. They’re a very special bird as they’re so rare, we’re so lucky to be able to see them.

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Hemmed in by the wild Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps, the West Coast is like nowhere else in New Zealand.Unsurpassed views await those that embark on the fabulous Coast Road drive, with spectacular mountain vistas, panoramic ocean seascapes and lush rainforest.

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New Zealand was one of the most beautiful countries to drive through for the scenery and the vast scale of the place.

– Louise Nurding
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Crossing to the North Island.
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Spectacular!

New Zealand was one of the most beautiful countries to drive through for the scenery and the vast scale of the place.

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New Zealand – Aoraki/Mount Cook

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I’m from Canada, and New Zealand feels like you took all the best bits of Canada and squished them onto a tiny island like Hawaii. I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the South Island.

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Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers. It is alpine in the purest sense – with skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snow fields, all set under a star-studded sky.

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Mountaineers regard the area to be the best climbing region in Australasia, while less skilled adventurers find plenty of satisfaction with the mountain walks that lead to alpine tarns, herb fields and spectacular glacier views.

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Lake Tekapo is the second-largest of three roughly parallel lakes running north–south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin in the South Island of New Zealand. We got our first distant glimpse of Mount Cook from across Tekapo.
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Aoraki Bound!

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The scenic drive from Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki follows State Highway 8 through the heart of the Mackenzie Basin. There is much to see along this stretch of road including several mountain ranges, Lake Tekapo in Tekapo, and Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook once you reach Lake Pukaki. And you’ll see lupins alongside the road if you do this scenic drive in late spring or early summer.

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Lake Pukaki is a glacial lake that has become famous for its milky-blue colour and as the foreground to Mount Cook. I can promise you that Lake Pukaki looks much more impressive when you see it in person than it does in any photograph or video. You have to catch the lake on a sunny day, though, to get to see its mesmerizing blue colour.

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Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its height since 2014 is listed as 3724m, having earlier been measured at 3754m . It lies in the Southern Alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island.
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Aoraki/Mount Cook’s mile-long summit crest towers over 8,000 feet above a vast network of glacier-filled valleys, and three main peaks rise from the crest. Its isolated location near the west coast makes it vulnerable for sudden storms, which are often long and severe. Violent weather, crevasses, and avalanches have all taken lives on the mountain.

There have been more than 230 fatalities in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park recorded since then, including 78 from climbing Aoraki, a long, blocky mountain at more than 3700 metres tall, with three peaks. Hypothermia, avalanches, lightning, rockfalls, heart attacks and plane crashes are all listed as contributing to the tally.