No photos have been retouched, filtered or photoshopped.
This is 100% New Zealand!
If you want to get to know a someone, travel with them. If you really want to get to know someone, live with them. If you really, really want to know someone (and yourself), hit the road in a camper van. – Passionfruit
We free-ranged our way around the south island of this country for 3 weeks, in a sweet little camper van, and… we’re still married! Yah! We fell hard for this place. It came to represent everything that is still right in the world. In a nutshell, the whole country looks and feels like a National Park.
Take my Breath Away NZ
- Most unspoiled waters, lands and air we’ve ever experienced in all of our travels.
- Glaciers. This land was carved up by ’em! Sadly, they are receding quickly due to that fake news called global climate change.
- Blissfully unpopulated even during “high season”. NZ’s entire population is 4.7 million people. The south island a mere 1 mill. Coming from a city of 2.7 million in Taichung this felt like low season to us.
- Cute sheep, 27.6 million of them (that’s 6 sheep per person)! I think a few would go well with the 2 corgis and a dozen beehives I plan to have someday.
- No billboards, chain hotels, restaurants or malls mucking these country sides.
We saw 4 glaciers: Fox, Franz Joseph, Tasman and Hooker and all have dramatically melted in the past 10 years. Just 10 years ago this beauty was sitting where we are standing. Going fast. 🙁
Grazing Paradise for animals & humans
Sheep, cow, deer (not wild, but farmed ones) and hares are everywhere, aka Bunnyland, NZ! We kept looking for the inhumane treatment of animals, packed in tight awful conditions, but nope, not here. Our favorite milk in Taichung comes from NZ (our second favorite milk comes from Hokkaido, Japan – also lots of happy grazers there too). Most animals seem to have fabulous lives here with one bad day if ya know what I mean unless you’re a lucky Icebreaker supplier.
This country is ‘keeping!
We have never seen so many hives so evenly dispersed throughout a country. It seems every farmer, regular Joe-blow and the Department of Conservation is ‘keeping. It pays off too because the produce and booze in NZ is delicious. Wine, hops, fruit trees galore, and beloved avocados… I bow to you! One can stumble across a delicious fresh produce stand any day, often selling jars of honey too (via an honesty cash box). The vibe felt like what you might experience in a small, safe, un-populated, un-junked up, environmentally savvy town in the USA (not sure where that is anymore), but it’s the happening in southern NZ!!!
It’s confirmed. I’d like to be a NZ honey bee when I’m reincarnated and if that’s not possible, a NZ sheep, preferably in the French Pass region. Pickles’ is sticking with a lobster because they live 100 years.
BATTEN DOWN THE BOOZE & STAY LEFT
Van life was way more fun and exhilarating than expected. Living in a van is like being a flight attendant of your own minimalistic home. Every item has a place and it must be battened down before lift-off. Being a lover of all things organized made this lifestyle easy-breezy. Multi-use spaces rule! By day our van had two cushioned benches and by evening it converted to a dining room, then by night it transformed to the the double bed snuggle zone. It was unclear if Pickles’ most serious house rule of NO EATING IN BED would apply or not.
* We rented a certified self contained van which means that we carried enough water for 3 days, had our own porta toilet and could contain all our own waste water. NZ created this certification for vehicles to help protect the environment and public health. Having this sticker on your vehicle also enables you to legally camp in beautiful, remote areas that have no facilities (bathrooms/water). Here are the guidelines if you want to pimp out your vehicle. We recommend this paint job:
Chasing Sunbeams & Glacial Waters
We didn’t plan much except that we wanted to circumnavigate the island counter-clockwise starting in Christchurch (17 different camp spots noted on map or check out the interactive google link). Our virtual guide for where to camp was an app called Camper Mate. Camp sites are so plentiful that we decided where to camp that day and rolled in without reservations. Really, only the huts (for the multi-day trampers) in the National Parks require reservations. We had booked a 3 day tramp in the Kepler Track in the Nat. Fiordland Park, but weather was 0 degrees with rain so we canceled and chased the sun. After all, our goal was to have fun and stay married.
Grapes & Hops – a – lot
Solo Woman’s March on Jan 21st
His happy place
Her happy place
This is French Pass = Verklempt
the original selfie stick
The northernmost part of the south island and the windiest!
Angry Frothy Sea Foam
Oh, to be young. We picked up all hitchhikers we encountered and all were rock ‘n the working holiday visa. Mandate that your kids take advantage of this before they turn 30 or have them call Uncle Pickles & Auntie Passionfruit and we’ll set them straight. US citizens can go to Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea and Ireland (pending Trump doesn’t piss them off in the next 4 years). We’re trying not hold it against our parents that we weren’t mandated to do this, but really… how did we miss this opportunity?!
Lake Pukaki & Mount Cook
A favorite freedom camping spot, perched high without a soul around except graceful hares poking in and out of the tall grasses. It was like stepping in to Kit Williams’ Masquerade book.
TASMAN GLACIER & HOOKER VALLEY
Mount John University Observatory
Drunk Kiwi in Queenstown
Alpine Wetlands! What the Heck?
We spent a day hiking Gertrude Saddle… just a wee alpine valley carved out by a big ass glacier. Oh, we humans… we are such small specks in this universe. Humbling indeed.
Kiwi lumbar stretch
Steampunk HQ in Oamaru, NZ
DIRTY WEKAS* GOT DA LOOKS
New Zealand is Kit Williams-esque
This is a favorite book (published in 1979), also a real life treasure hunt if you could solve the elaborate puzzle – which my sister and I spent hours trying to do as ten year olds! I couldn’t stop thinking about this book throughout our trip, even though it’s based in the UK, the scenes draw beautiful parallels to NZ. If you can snag a copy of this gem, do it!
One last stop before we fly home..
It’s a long flight, but if you get the opportunity, go. Experience this place. We think it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet . No photos will ever do it justice.
* The weka (also known as Maori hen or woodhen) is a flightless bird species, endemic to New Zealand. Who’s a dirty weka? We are!
Pickles & Passionfruit
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