Road tripping in New Zealand #2

Arthur's Pass bridge

The second week of a roadtrip through New Zealand

Road tripping in New Zealand: Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Arthur’s Pass and Christchurch

Before we even realised, the first week of our road tripping in New Zealand was already over. From Taupo, we traveled further South-East of the country to Havelock North, close to the 30’s-style town Napier. Further South in Wellington, we crossed the Cook Strait with a ferry. Once on the South Island we visited Nelson, took the Arthur’s Pass and discovered Christchurch, a city that is still recovering from the 2011 and 2012 earthquakes.

Napier

This beautiful art deco city, which got nominated as UNESCO World Heritage by the way, is the capital of the Hawke’s Bay region and a real gem. Due to an earthquake in the 30’s, the city was rebuilt in the popular art deco style. Today the architecture is the main reason why tourists visit Napier. Every year in February, thousands of people flock to this town to celebrate the art deco heritage and history during the Tremains Art Deco weekend.

Napier shopping street - road tripping in New Zealand
Unfortunately we were only able to visit Napier on a Sunday, which meant almost everything was closed. But walking through the shopping streets and along the beach gave us an idea of how the city must be like when it is hustling and bustling.

Marine ParadeNapier marine parade - road tripping in New Zealand

Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Napier art deco hotel - road tripping in New Zealand

Viewing platform on the beach along Marine Parade

The Dome Hotel *****

Wellington

Oh Wellington, why did we ever decide to only stay with you for one night?! Our encounter was brief, but beautiful. At our arrival we went up to the breathtaking Mount Victoria lookout. At night we had dinner in one of the coolest streets of Wellington: Cuba Street. It is home to a lot of eclectic and bohemian style shops, restaurants, galleries and music shops. In other words, the place to be for all culinary and creative souls.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a REAL hot chocolate (hot milk + melted chocolate), Wellington is the place to be. Don’t worry about coffee in New Zealand, you will find enough great coffee, but good hot chocolates are rare. So you can imagine I was as happy as a kid when I finally held a fresh cup of hot chocolate in my hands ☕️

Mount Victoria LookoutMount Victoria Wellington lookout - road tripping in New Zealand

North to South: Queen Charlotte track and surroundings

If you are wondering if the ferry trip from the North to the South Island was worth while, I will honestly have to tell you I don’t know. I caught up on some sleep from the intense trip up until then ? probably not a surprise to people that know me. I tend to fall asleep easily in moving vehicules 😉

After the ferry arrived in Picton, we had a small bite on the terrace of a bakery near the dock. Then we left for our next stay in Havelock. We decided to take the Queen Charlotte Drive, a scenic route in the Marlborough Sounds with stunning views, an absolute must do.

Views from the terrace at Kiwiss B&B

Our stay at the B&B was delightful and we woke up to the best views ever. This region was great to do a few road trips and we ended up at the most beautiful places, with a cocktail or milkshake in our hands. Sigh, the life!

One of the many views in the Marlborough SoundsQueen Charlotte Sounds New Zealand - road tripping in New Zealand

The milkshake I told you about 🙂

Nelson

We also made two day trips to Nelson, a city in the north of the South Island with the largest number of sun hours of New Zealand ? we were not that lucky and had one of the rainy days during our first visit. But we had a lovely day nevertheless! We visited the cathedral, the Suter Art Gallery and took a walk in the Queens Gardens (it’s just behind the art gallery). On Saturdays there is the Nelson Saturday Market. This was our last stop to buy some groceries before heading to our next stop: Arthur’s Pass!

Nelson city centerNelson New Zealand city center - road tripping in New Zealand

Arthur’s Pass

These pictures say it all, right? Arthur’s Pass was our first encounter with the ‘rough’ Southern New Zealand we were looking for. It is said to be the most spectacular pass across the Southern Alps and I have to say, it was impressive. It’s where we also spotted our first Kea, an alpine parrot. The world’s only alpine parrot by the way.

The Kea

Otira Viaduct LookoutOtira viaduct lookout - road tripping in New Zealand

We did several small walks during our one night stay at Arthur’s Pass. The Arthur’s Pass Walking Track offers a few walks ranging from 20 min to 1,5 hour. Other nice ones are Dobson Nature Walk and Bealey Valley. Oh and when you leave Arthur’s Pass to the South, don’t forget to look on your right when you cross the Waimakariri river. The view on the mountains is specatacular!

Dobson Nature WalkDobson Nature Walk Arthur's Pass - road tripping in New Zealand

Arthur Pass Walking TrackArthur's Pass walking track - road tripping in New Zealand

Christchurch

The second biggest city of New Zealand and one of my favourites to be honest. This was our first encounter with the more cultural side of New Zealand. The city got its name from the University in Oxford, Christ Church around 1850. A third of the city consists of parks and recreational areas so Christchurch is a great place to stroll around.

One thing that struck me was the numerous street and urban art pieces that coloured the city. After the earthquakes of 2010 en 2011 a lot of street artists decided to bring the city back to life through urban art. You notice it (re)connects the city and everybody who lives in it which I think is quite amazing 🙂

City tour tourist tramChristchurch city tour tram - road tripping in New Zealand

The ruinous cathedral with colourful artwork around itCathedral Christchurch - road tripping in New Zealand

RONE mural for Rise Street Art FestivalRONE mural Christchurch

Akaroa

The last stop of our second week is Akaroa, an old French and British settlement. Why French and British? It was founded by French colonists but when the British took notice of their intent to colonise this area, they sent a ship to claim the land. If the French stood ground, New Zealand could have been (partially) French speaking! Today, this French influence is refelcted in place- and streetnames in the area.

I thought it was a nice place to enjoy the views over the bay and buy some souvenirs for our friends and family. The thing I enjoyed the most was the tourist drive road (SH75) and the stunning views over Akaroa on the hilltop. Wow!

Akaroa bay - road tripping in New Zealand

Bay of AkaroaBay of Akaroa - road tripping in New Zealand

View over Akaroa along the Tourist Drive road SH75

What’s next?

The road tripping in New Zealand continues to the South:

  • More street art in Dunedin
  • Penguin and sea lions spotting in Sandfly Bay
  • The most photographed waterfall in the world
  • Doubtful and Milford Sound: the eight wonder in the world
  • A lot of Lupin Wildflowers!
  • Celebrating 2016-2017
  • Glacier spotting
  • Pancake rocks

I’m not yet sure how I am going to fit this all in one post but it sounds promising, right?

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