KIA ORA NEW ZEALAND II.: SOUTH ISLAND IN PICTURES (and a little talk about vanlife)

“Home is wherever you park it.”

That is music to my ears. The possibility of stopping anywhere I want, taking back roads to see something special, driving through detours just because I feel like it, listening to music while enjoying the empty roads and soaking up the scenery…. that is the kind of flexibility and independence I was craving during many of my travels.

Our New Zealand road trip was my first time living the van life (not counting sleeping in a car to save money during some other road trips:) ) and my gypsy heart was pumping. There is simply something romantic about living in a van. In some way, you are more connected to the nature and country you’re wandering through and somehow you end up living more in the moment. At least that’s how I was feeling just after few days into my van adventure.

I have discovered that less space actually gives me more freedom.

If you take your home with you, the entire world is your front porch. Remember booking your vacation and hoping you’d have an ocean view, proximity to the beach or a big garden next to your hotel? Why not try to park your van in a place that offers it all or even better, try to have something different for each day?

That is my absolute favourite thing about van life. You stop somewhere in the middle of the night, go to sleep while listening to the sounds of nature and voila, in the morning you find out that you are sleeping 100 metres away from a spectacular beach and you start your day by watching a sunrise straight from your bed. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Every day I woke up to a different view and for me that was magical.

You’re your own tour guide. Want to hit the road at 5 am to drive along the coast while the sun is still rising? Why not? Wish to have a nap by the beach at 2 pm? Why not? There’s no bus to catch and no booking reservation to be made on time. You can do whatever you want to and adjust your plan to your mood, weather conditions, day of the week…. anything.

Plus, the attachment you get towards your little home on wheels is incredible. It is your main travel companion, your house and your transport, and you do whatever it takes to make sure it is having a great time as well. You cherish it, you take good care of it and if you’re anything like me, you give it a name. Saying good bye to your van is almost as hard as to any of your human travel mates.

Of course, sleeping in a van might not always be so dreamy and super convenient. For starters, it isn’t totally possible to keep your hygiene standards as high as you normal would and you basically rely on campgrounds with a lot of necessities such as electricity.

But who would think that sleeping on a mattress in a tiny metal rectangle can be so much fun anyway?

It also very much depends on your mindset. You can either worry where to park your car and rest your head in the night or you take advantage of the possibility of sleeping anywhere you want (as long as it is legal, of course) and you don’t worry about a thing. 😊

And even though the first van I travelled in could not compare itself with those luxurious “villas on wheels” (in appearance, not in spirit) we saw on the way, I’ll always have the best memory of it.

New Zealand’s South Island has perfect conditions for all the road trip lovers and camper hippies.

The island is home to only 1/3 of New Zealand’s population which has one big perk – empty roads (that are also very easy to navigate and surrounded by epic landscapes). This traffic solitude can be especially useful for those who usually don’t drive on the left side of the road.

Moreover, the folks at DOC (Department of Conservation) did a great job at making our van lives as easy as possible so there are plenty of well-equipped campsites to be found everywhere around the island.

So what actually makes South Island so attractive? Picture rugged mountains, wild beaches, blueish glaciers, postcard-like coastline, green rolling hills, “cute” wild life, turquoise lakes and finally loads of adrenaline. And a good road trip is one of the best ways to explore these outdoor gems.

In case I haven’t sold it to you enough here are some pictures to help me:

  • Abel Tasman National Park

  • Abel Tasman National Park

  • Abel Tasman National Park

  • Rotoroa Lake

  • Punakaiki

  • Punakaiki

  • Punakaiki

  • Pancake Rocks

  • Paparoa National Park

  • Paparoa National Park

  • Ross Beach

  • Franz Josef Glacier

  • Franz Josef Glacier

  • Franz Josef Glacier

  • Bruce Bay

  • Bruce Bay – beautiful Whare (Maori for ‘home’)

  • Paringa

  • Haast

  • Blue Lake

  • Blue Lake

  • Blue Lake

  • Wanaka

  • Roy‘s Peak

  • Roy’s Peak

  • Roy’s Peak

  • Roy’s Peak

  • Roy’s Peak

  • Roy’s Peak

  • Roy’s Peak

  • Roy’s Peak

  • Queenstown

  • Arrowtown

  • Cardrona Hotel, Wanaka

  • Queenstown

  • Queenstown

  • Glaciers surrounding Queenstown from a helicopter

  • Glaciers surrounding Queenstown from a helicopter

  • Glaciers surrounding Queenstown from a helicopter

  • Helicopter ride

  • Glaciers surrounding Queenstown from a helicopter

  • Glaciers surrounding Queenstown from a helicopter

  • Mt. Aspiring National Park

  • Queenstown from a helicopter

  • Lake Pukaki

  • Lake Pukaki

  • Hooker Valley Track

  • Hooker Valley Track

  • Hooker Valley Track

  • Mt. Cook – the highest mountain in New Zealand

  • Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park

  • Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park

  • Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park

  • Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park

  • Lavender field at Mt. Cook National Park

  • Lavender field at Mt. Cook National Park

  • Lake Pukaki

  • Lake Pukaki

  • Lavender field at Mt. Cook National Park

  • Lake Pukaki

  • Christchurch, 5 years after the earthquake

  • Christchurch, Botanic Garden

  • Christchurch, Botanic Garden

  • Christchurch, Spectrum Street Art Exhibition

  • New Brighton

  • New Brighton

  • New Brighton

  • Favorite thing about living in a van – waking up to this

  • Kaikoura

  • Kaikoura

  • Kaikoura

  • Otumatu – this is how #nofilter looks like 🙂

  • Otumatu

  • Otumatu

  • Otumatu

  • Otumatu

  • Kaikoura

  • Kaikoura

  • Kaikoura

  • Kaikoura

  • Vanlife food ain’t bad either 🙂

  • Kaikoura

  • Kaikoura

  • Kaikoura

  • Kaikoura

You may also enjoy...

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *