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Roughing & Luxuriating

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The Journey

Pete and Dalene from Hecktic Travels spent 17 incredible days exploring New Zealand's South Island in a maui motorhome.

We had a chat to this dynamic duo to find out where they went and what some of their highlights were as they discovered an idyllic balance between roughing it and luxuriating in it.

Travel

17 days


Route

Queenstown to Queenstown

3554km


Best Time of the Year

All year round

Highlights

Mackay Creek campground
McCracken's Rest
Moeraki Boulders
Kohaihai
Franz Josef Glacier

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Day 1
Wanaka to Carrick Winery

Distance 113km - Driving Time 1 hour

Photographs supplied by Hecktic Travels

The adventure begins. A lovely drive along Lake Dunston and the Clutha River to Clyde for late lunch. Some photo stops on the way back along with a panoramic view of Cromwell before heading to the winery for the evening. We were greeted to a spot by ourselves overlooking the Kawarau River, a bottle of Carrick's finest dry riesling and a picnic basket with plenty of food.

Day 2
Carrick Winery to Mackay Creek Campground

Distance 376km - Driving Time 1 hour

A chilly start to the morning waking up to -6 degree temperatures, but an incredible sight of a frozen cherry tree grove. A long day of driving with rewarding views in Fiordland. We stretch our legs with many photo stops along the way before making our way back towards Te Anau and camping at Mackay Creek Campground. We're rewarded with a beautiful sea of stars above our campervan.

Day 3
Mackay Creek Campground to Invercargill

Distance 269km - Driving Time 2.5 hours

A long day of driving, but we hardly see any other campervans on the road. The 'Southern Scenic Drive' is just that. We get our first glimpse of the sea with the southern alps in the background. We also soon find out how bad the sandflies are. A gorgeous lunch stop at McCracken's Rest and we can see Stewart Island and wish we had more time to venture out that way. We continue along the coast with many photo stops and eventually arrive in Invercargill for the evening.

Day 4
Invercargill to Kaka Point

Distance 183km - Driving Time 2 hours

The rains have come and fortunately it's a day we want to visit waterfalls. The drive through the Catlins has us seeing mist surrounding the hillside. By the time we reach the coast the clouds have broken up and we have an amazing lunch break at the Florence Hill lookout. We made it to Nugget Point and I braved sitting cliffside with howling wind to get 'the shot'. It was a rainy night spent in Kaka Point.

Day 5
Kaka Point to Glencoe

Distance 204km - Driving Time 1.5 hours

A dreary and blustery day along the coast. It's Dalene's niece's birthday so we find a solid connection and call her from the camper while eating lunch. Arriving in Moeraki we spend time wandering around the mysterious boulders scoping out spots for the sunrise the next day. Our campsite is quiet; we and a lonely tenter are the only ones there.

Day 6
Glencoe to Akaroa

Distance 356km - Driving Time 7 hours

The weather cooperates and we are the only ones on the beach with the Moeraki Boulders for sunrise. It's a pretty special moment for both of us. The beach doesn't open for a couple hours so we decide to drive north to Oamaru for breakfast at The Riverstone Kitchen. It was well worth the wait. Afterwards, we continue north to Akaroa and are amazed at the drive, totally not expecting the scenery we were treated to.

Day 7
Akaroa to Kaikoura

Distance 263km - Driving Time 4 hours

After a stunning (and nail-biting) drive along the Summit Road in Akaroa, we meet up at She Universe in Governors Bay for lunch with a long-time friend we first met in Ecuador. She Universe's speciality is chocolate so of course we have to sample the goods. After a pleasant reunion we make our way north to Kaikoura. The weather again arriving at the coast is now blowing wind and rain and we're hoping the next day will bring sunshine.

Day 8
Kaikoura

A day spent in Kaikoura and surrounding area. We checked out a nearby waterfall that sea lions frequent. On the trip back to Kaikoura we stop along the rocky shore to marvel at the sheer power of the Pacific Ocean.

Day 9
Kaikoura to Westport

Distance 347km - Driving Time 4.5 hours

We begin our journey to the west coast. After lunch, just before Hanmer Springs at the bungy jump bridge, we made our way towards the Lewis Pass. When we finally make it to the West Coast we decide it is too late to venture further north so decide to wait until the next day.

Day 10
Westport to Kohaihai

Distance 111km - Driving Time 1 hour 40 minutes

We have an easy morning before making our way up as far north as we can go. We arrive in Kohaihai by late morning. We spend the day stretching our legs hiking to Scotts Beach and are greeted by a huge empty stretch of sand and crashing waves.

Day 11
Kohaihai to Hokitika

Distance 251km - Driving Time 4 hours

We wake to strong waves and birds at our favourite campsite in Kohaihai. After our breakfast we begin our journey down one of the touted 'best drives in the world' – the Great Coast Road. The weather doesn't exactly cooperate as we are in rain and fog the whole way. After photo stops at the Pancake Rocks and blowholes we arrive in Hokitika for the night, hoping the weather would improve the next day.

Day 12
Hokitika to Fox Glacier

Distance 244km - Driving Time 2 hours

Arriving in Hokitika Gorge we expect to see the brilliant blues you see in many of the photographs. Instead the water was a murky green and the skies opened up. We jumped back in the camper and made our way south en route to Okarito Lagoon. With the weather still miserable we changed plans and headed further south to Fox Glacier again with hopes that the weather would improve.

Day 13
Fox Glacier

Not a cloud in the sky and Mount Tasman and Cook looking over us is what we wake up to. We make our way to Lake Matheson to check out the amazing reflections of the southern alps. A quick lunch stop before making our way to walk up the Fox Glacier track.

Day 14
Fox Glacier to Franz Josef Glacier

Another cloudless day we make our way back towards Franz Josef to jump in a helicopter to see the Franz Josef Glacier close up. After an amazing experience of walking on the glacier, we flew back down to the base and found camp in the rainforest at the base of the mountain. 

Day 15
Franz Josef Glacier to Boundary Creek

Distance 234km - Driving Time 3 hours

An incredibly scenic drive down the remaining west coast and through the Haast Pass. We stop at Boundary Creek for our second-to-last night camping. We share the campground with only one other camper under the most incredible stars and full moon. There's not even a need for a torch as the ground is lit up by moonlight.

Day 16
Boundary Creek to Wanaka

Distance 54km - Driving Time 45 minutes

We make our way back to Wanaka to meet with friends, knowing it's our last night in the camper. We're sad that the adventure has come to an end.

Day 17
Wanaka to Queenstown

Distance 109km - Driving Time 1 hour

A quiet drive, reflecting on 17 amazing days, to drop off our camper before our flight out of New Zealand.