This post is the first in a series about our road trip through New Zealand.
This post isn’t really about the first day. The first day we didn’t do shit. After taking a red-eye, including running across an airport with our full packs on to make a connection, we arrived in Christchurch where we picked up our Spaceship campervan. Getting the van was surprisingly easy and once we had it, we booked a room to crash for the night. We were beat after having not slept for nearly 24 hours.
With about 12 hours of sleep we rose early in the morning, made a quick breakfast, and hit the road. We were on our way to road tripping through New Zealand and it was going to be epic. At first, driving south out of Christchurch was a little underwhelming. We had glimpsed towering mountain ranges capped with snow as we flew in, but all we were seeing now was flat farm land; snore. That lasted maybe an hour before everything changed. There were the mountains we had seen the day before and from there the scenery started to change dramatically.
Ok, so there is a point on a New Zealand road trip where you have to stop saying “Damn, this place is incredible!” because you’ve been saying it pretty much non-stop for the last few hours and your girlfriend is getting annoyed. This really started for us when we rolled up to Lake Tekapo. We had seen beautiful green rolling hills and more snow capped mountains before arriving at Lake Tekapo, but this whole scene was breathtaking. I honestly didn’t know this tint of blue existed in nature. The aqua color that seemed to radiate from the lake was brilliant (pun intended) and just seemed all that more impressive with the backdrop of massive jagged mountains. We parked the van and walked over to the lake to get a closer look. We stepped across the unstable rocky lake bed for about 100 yards before reaching the waters edge then just stood there, not talking, taking it all in. It was so peaceful.
After reflecting on where we were and where we had been, we continued driving. There was a big distance to cover if we wanted to get to Queenstown before sunset. We didn’t make it 10 miles before stopping again. How could we not? We had just come across Lake Pukaki, possibly even more beautiful than Lake Tekapo. It was cold and gray outside the toasty van, but we didn’t care. We had never seen anything like this.
Now having passed 3 gorgeous aqua lakes (one with a smoke salmon stand!) we continued to drive through more beautiful terrarin. Everywhere we looked there was something stunning to look at (really you should just stop reading and looking at the photos).
The day was starting to wane as we made our way into Queenstown. This was going to be our first night on the road and we were going to rough it by camping in a remote location just past Queenstown at the Moke Lake Campsite. I had read that it was a beautiful spot, but I really didn’t know what to expect. As we meandered down the windy gravel road, it became clear. We were heading into a small valley surrounded by towering mountains. We were no longer in Queenstown. We were out in the wild and it was great. We were pretty much alone. Only 2 other campers were there, but with so much space we had no idea they were there. We parked just alongside the lake. This would be our home for the night.
It was a cold evening, but after a quick meal, and settling under our fleece blankets, we were pretty comfortable. We fell asleep looking out of the van window at the night sky filled with thousands of stars. Not a bad first day.
Keep an eye out for the rest of our posts in this series about our New Zealand Road Trip following us on Feedly.