By: Mike Argyle
New Zealand is made up of two main islands, the North island and the South island, and having only 8 days to spend there (6 if you take away travel days) you have to make the best of your time. Myself and one other rented a camper van and drove the whole South island and aside from the realization that driving a standard through mountain passes and around roundabouts is not the same as an automatic, it was absolutely perfect. Round trip flight and camper van came to $600 each for 8 days and the only thing that cost us money was the $30 a night for electricity to keep us from freezing at night and our food. Camper vans are a lot cheaper during NewZealand’s winter, but you can’t camp out in them or you will freeze. There’s not much price difference in flights to New Zealand between the winter and summer. There are few countries in the world that I would consider moving to, but along with Switzerland, New Zealand is one of those places. Here are some of the top things you should do while you are there.
Drive through the mountains into this little town and then out the other side in a day. You may think you’re going to die if the roads are slippery and your control of a standard bus is less than perfect, but the views and the experience are second to none.
Franz Josef/Fox Glacier
Visit both of these relics of the ice age to get an idea how screwed we will be if an ice age comes back. Franz Josef is less pretty than Fox, but the walk to the face is epic. I built anInuk shook. It wore my sunglasses. Awesome.
Connecting Road to Queenstown from Wanaka
I can’t remember the name of this place, but the view was… I don’t even know what to say. You feel like you’re on top of the world and all alone and you never want to leave. Simply amazing – much better than the main highway and if I can drive it in a camper van, anyone can.
This is the place to go. Called the 8th Wonder of the World by Kippling and actually nominated for Natural Wonder of the World, Milford Sound itself is a majestic coupling of rock, water and trees that will make you feel insignificant, in a good way. Anyone who didn’t do this while in New Zealand hasn’t actually been to New Zealand. MAKE SURE you drive down though, as the drive will leave you speechless. Lucky Jen. She got to look while I drove. Next time she’s driving!
Skydive Lake Wanaka
I’ve never been skydiving before but I can’t imagine there being a better place than this to do it. With the mountains in front and behind you, Lake Wanaka all around you, this place will blow your mind. It was voted as one of the top things to do in the world before you die and there’s a reason for it.
A beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and a little church. You have to stop by here to get some pictures and just look around because it’s one of the most photographed places in New Zealand for a reason.
There are tons of other things you could do in New Zealand, not to mention the North island (which I didn’t visit), but these are the ones that I can’t talk to anyone without mentioning. I am definitely going back there some day to see it again in the summer and there aren’t many countries I will say that about. It’s a long freaking way from Canada, or anywhere for that matter, but the people are awesome and the landscape is unreal. It is the land that time forgot. The one lane bridges (must’ve been over 100 of them) and the crosses on the side of the road for people who didn’t make it the whole way were really something to watch for on the long drives. When all was said and done, 2000 km in 6 days with all we did is something I’m damn proud of and definitely on my list of life accomplishments.