Just back from almost 5 weeks in lovely NZ. I have two sisters there, so it's lovely, and necessary, to catch up with both of them, and their families..... but.... as a woman who carries a camera with her at all times, and needs freedom to be able to get those 500 shots a day (lol sometimes more!), i also have to escape from the domestic situation and head on out - and away - usually to the west.
I absolutely love the west coast and the south west of the South Island. It's wilder there, more free, escape from all the trappings of city life, of the expensive coffee houses, the ubiquitous malls, supermarkets etc. I like to be away, book a few motels, and just head off. I am the same here at home in Scotland, away to the west, the mountains and the freedom.
Each time I go, I think to myself "well, i've seen this, or that, let's find something new" and I always do, because in NZ there are thousands of locations worth a look. Not just Frans Josef, Lovely though it is, not just Fox Glacier, amazing though it is. But all the little winding roads, the mountain passes, the rivers, the gorges and so on. They're all breathtaking.
Further north you reach vineyard country, and that's another experience. Here i did give in and went for a very relaxed lunch, with a mixed platter and some of the delicious wine which that particular vineyard delivered. All my favourites from NZ. especially Sauvingon Blanc, in my humble opinion some of the best wines in the world.
This trip I went on a helicopter flight up over the tops of the hightest peaks, and we landed on the glaciers, wow, there really aren't the words to really describe how this went. Wonderful? inadequate word. Fantastic? hmm, getting there. Breathtaking, yes, it was. Amazing, that too. Put those all into one sentence and that is beginning to come close to what it felt like.
“I was left feeling exhilarated and smiling from ear to ear for hours afterwards.”
I flew with a company called Glacier Country Scenic Flights, found just before you reach Whatroa. It was a 40 minutes trip and worth every single dollar. Kevin and Marcus were very helpful in me to take the flight which landed on the glacier, as opposed to simply flying over, I'm glad they managed to persuade this Scottish woman to part with her hard earned cash, because I wouldn't have missed that for the world.
I did a tree top walk, over some platforms, just south of Hokitika, the views to the southern alps from the viewing platform is quite something. The lake District of Nelson, away up in the mountains, where the lakes are surrounded by natural dense forests, which you can walk amongst listening to the bell birds and watching the little fan tails flit from branch to branch. Loads of trails for hiking, small walks, or ones which you plan over several days.
What can I say to persuade people to fly such a long way away?
“The bluest blue lakes, the darkest light pollution free skies to see, the greenest green tree filled mountains?”
Any of these, and much much much more. Plan it. Go, you won't ever regret it.