EXPLORING THE SOUTH ISLAND
18 Nov 20
Like so many of us, 2020 has been an opportunity for us to explore New Zealand. As a family, we have spent much of this year talking about a South Island road trip, and in October Dion, Myra, Daisie and I flew down to Dunedin and set out to cover off nearly 700kms en route to Queenstown through the main highways, back country and gravel roads of this beautiful country we are so lucky to call home.
DAY ONE / DUNEDIN TO MILTON
We arrived in Dunedin and picked up our RS Q8 from Audi dealer Southern Motor Group. A beautiful big car with loads of room for the girls car seats, pram, porta cot, suitcases and bags upon bags etc. We loved the aesthetics and power of the RS Q8 and so comfortable with good leg-room, heated and cooling seats, a sunroof for the girls to see the sky, and easy-to-use (and needed!) GPS. We felt so safe and it was the perfect car to set off on our adventure in.
We stopped in for a quick visit to our Dunedin stockist Chapman before heading south to Cascade Retreat near Milton for a two night stop-over. Amazing log cabin accommodation on a farm in the middle of nowhere (with no reception!) and all you could ask for including two outside baths a stones through from the cabin and looking out to the bush.
Cascade Creek is owned by my brother-in-law’s sister, and it was so great to be removed from it all and in the company of very dear friends. The girls loved their experience of farm life - first motorbike rides, moved a herd of sheep, feed cows and pigs, went on bush walks, and roasted marshmallows on the open fire. This was the perfect way to begin the trip and completely switch off from our Auckland life.
DAY THREE / MILTON TO THE CATLINS
(via Balclutha for cheese rolls!)
Woke up to a beautiful blue sky day hit the road driving south from Cascade Creek through Balclutha (where we stopped and had the best cheese rolls) out to the coast and an area called the Catlins. I had spent time down here when I was really young travelling around the south island for 6 months and then more recently on a road trip about 9 years ago. I love the rugged landscape - it makes me think of what a Scottish coastline could look like with farmland pushing right up to a cliffs edge and then dramatic steep cliffs falling into the ocean vast wind swept, and white sand beaches that seem to go on forever.
We walked out to the Nugget Point Lighthouse and then spent the afternoon exploring the rock pools in Short Bay with the girls. We stayed in a roadside motel in Owaka, a quaint little township inland from Kaka Point and ate a beautiful meal at The Lumberjack.
DAY FOUR / CATLINS TO CURIO BAY
Explored more of the nearby coastline before walking into the Purakaunui Falls. Back into the Audi and headed to Curio Bay for the evening. A wild and windswept beach with mesmerising masses of Kelp seaweed dancing with each surge of the water and nature trails through the bush.
DAY FIVE / CURIO BAY TO TE ANAU (VIA INVERCARGILL)
In the car again and headed to Te Anau via Invercargill to visit Bill Richardsons Transport World… we absolutely loved it. The largest private automotive museum collection of its type in the world and an amazing tribute to motor vehicles from yesteryear. Dion has managed to pass on his bogan love of cars to the girls and the whole family agreed it was definitely worth the slight detour on the way to Te Anau. We arrived in Te Anau in the afternoon and checked into an Airbnb slightly out of town but close to the lake meeting up with my Mum and Dad (Janet & Frank) as they stepped in for Grandparent duties with the girls while Dion and I prepared to head off to tramp the Kepler Track.
DAY SIX TO EIGHT / KEPLER TRACK
One of NZ’s great walks the Kepler Track covers 50km along the beech-forested shorelines of Lake Te Anau, up to the tussock-covered ridgelines of the surrounding mountain ranges and finishes up dropping back down below the bush line to Lake Manapouri. We were so lucky with the weather as we walked along the top with crisp clear skies above and a breathtaking dense blanket of cloud below – it really took my breath away. Mt Luxmore gave us an awe inspiring 360° view of row upon row of mountains.
I grew up tramping with my family and it has always meant so much to me and something that I long for. I love being so far removed from day to day life, surrounded by the most beautiful scenery, somewhere that you can only get to by walking. I love the exhaustion you feel at the end of the day after many kms spent walking. I love the joy of cooking a meal at the end of a day in a basic DOC hut surrounded by likeminded people – you can meet the most interesting and unlikely people.
I’m a self-confessed foody, so apart from packing all the essentials, I make sure that I have food that brings joy. For me that’s:
- Goats cheese & quince on crackers for lunch
- Amisfield Pinot decanted into a plastic bottle (for weight) to enjoy with dinner.
- Vacuum sealed produce to ensure our meals are flavoursome and nutritious…
- Night 1 / Chorizo and Lemon Risotto,
- Night 2 / Pasta Puttanesca
Dinners were followed by early nights in shared bunkrooms and mornings started early to watch sunrises before back on the track to knock off some km’s before lunch.
DAY NINE / TE ANAU
Back reunited with the girls who had had a wonderful few days exploring Te Anau with their Granty & BB.
DAY TEN / TE ANAU TO QUEENSTOWN
Finally drove from Te Anau back to Queenstown and dropped the Audi back to Queenstown Motor Group. We were definitely sad to say goodbye to the RS Q8 but ready to head home with some amazing memories in tow.