10 Places to visit in South Island, New Zealand – Part 2

And as promised, here’s the other 5 tips from my adventures in New Zealand – click here if you missed the first ones!

 

6. Queenstown

Queenstown is a b i g town situated in an inlet of glacial origins. It reminded us of a place in Italy called Iseo lake, again a result of  m e l t e d  glacials (I should definitely write a post about Iseo lake in the future). I loved that town because it is colourful as well as full of life. After a week spent travelling in wild places, it was good to see people, cafes and shops around us. Our friend wanted to sky dive, as Queenstown is one of the most recommended spots in the world where to do that. However, the weather conditions were not ideal so no jump from a helicopter. We found out that it is a fairly common issue and that it is better to stay in town for at least one week if you want to make sure you’ll be able to sky dive.

Note: agencies refund tickets if the experience is cancelled due to weather conditions.

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7 Tim Wilson’s artwork

Tim Wilson is a painter from Palmerston North, New Zealand. He first worked as jeweller, then started to explore art and developed a technique characterised by lots and lots of thin layers of colours. This way he recreates a vivid 3D effect as the light in the room enters the painting softly, layer by layer, until you can see the details in the background.

He is now a well-known landscape artist who paints memories of New Zealand sounds that are just breathtaking. His paintings are very expensive, not only because he uses pricey materials but also because his work is popular and appreciated. For this reason, if you are like me and cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars for one of these gems, I would recommend to at least visit Wilson Gallery and take some minutes to fully appreciate such work of art.

 

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8 Milford Sound

It is quite difficult to describe the beauty of Milford Sound. It’s called sound but it’s actually a fiord situated in Fiordland National Park. The difference between a fiord and a sound is that a sound is originated by a river, whereas a fiord is created by a glacier – in the past, Milford was mistakenly considered a sound, hence the origin of the name.

It doesn’t look like it’s that far from Queenstown on Google maps, but the road is very windy and curvy so it took us six hours to arrive to the only camping site that has showers. It’s called Gunns Camp and offers bathrooms as well as a big kitchen where everybody can cook their food. We stayed there for the night and headed to the fiord early in the morning for our two-hour cruise that we had booked online the day before.

When we arrived to the harbour, there was a mysterious mist that made the place look foggy and encrypted. During the time on the cruise though, the sun came out and we saw the fiord in all its breathtaking beauty. It still is one of the best places we’ve ever seen with its myriads of shades of green, the cascades and the birds, the seals and the trees that look like they are almost falling into the water – and sometimes they really do fall into the water, causing a so called ‘treevalanches’. You can’t visit New Zealand without visiting a fiord. It doesn’t matter whether you go for a cruise, or you decide to walk through it or even just drive there: you can’t miss it!

 

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9 Lake Pukaki

It is quite hard to manage to take a picture that truly reproduces the colour of the water of this lake. It is of an almost unnatural light blue, which is caused by the glacial flour that covers its floor. It is quite a unique view, with Mount Cook standing just in front of you. Also, remember to stop and buy some fresh salmon at the shop next to the parking lot!

 

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10 Lake Tekapo

The most distinctive element in Lake Tekapo is the Good Shepard church, which stands on the border of the lake and has a window just behind the altar that overlooks the placid water. It was the first church built by pioneers, who followed the sketches of a local artist named Esther – now you understand why I had to mention it. It is highly photographed, which means it is difficult to sit there in silence and meditate with all the tourists around you. Well, we did take a picture as well…

Close by there is also a bronze statue of a Collie sheepdog that is dedicated to all sheepdogs who play an important role in people’s lives in the area.

 

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Those were the highlights of our trip, which ended in Christchurch. I wasn’t sure whether to add Christchurch to the list, but I still think it deserves to be mentioned. As you know, in 2011 a major earthquake caused incredible damage to the city, killing 185 people. When you walk around Christchurch, you see marks of that event everywhere, from what is left of the old cathedral to the scratches on the buildings in the city centre. There is a lot of drama in the air, that cohabits with a breeze of new life and rebirth. Next to the signs of the tragedy, we saw modern artworks, a new church and a brand new shopping centre called Restart. The latter was a peculiar shopping area where shops were hosted in containers, as a temporary solution after the earthquake. We managed to see it, but it is now closed as the new CBD space is now open to the public.

Breathing death and life at the same time was unique and incredible. I will never forget those sensations, but most of all I will never forget the strength of the local people who managed to find a way of rebuilding their city on the ashes of such a tragedy.

 

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As usual, thank you for reading my blog. I hope the wonderful photos that L took guided you through this post and made you experience a little bit of the magic New Zealand has to offer!

 

Hugs

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