• Advina Ratnaningsih

South Island Road Trip


It was a bit crazy decision when i travel to New Zealand by myself. Well, i have a friends who live in Auckland, so it wasn't really the problem. But then i have 10 days to spend there, and there's no way that i will only spend days in Auckland. So, i flew to South Island by myself, and that's where the real adventure began.

With big luggage full of clothes, a tent, sleeping bag, portable stove and cooking utilities, i was so ready to do road trip and freedom camping. Freedom camping is when you camp on public land that isn't a recognised camping ground or holiday park, with minimal or no facilities and we have to be responsible not to litter or put trash in any location but at the right place. Honestly, i did solo travel a lot. but road trip and camping by myself? I was clueless until i have a week full of new experiences doing road trip and freedom camping.

Day I

Queenstown - Dunedin (Otago Peninsula)

As soon as i landed in Queenstown, i went to the car rent office to get my car. It was quite small car and soon after i went to groceries, my car is already full with stuffs.

Sunny day, and i headed to the east. In map, i saw that i will pass Kawarau Bridge, the home for world's first bungy jumping place. So, yes, i did it. Impromptu plan. I wasn't scared or nervous waiting for my turn. it was more curious to feel the sensation and feeling when jumping off the bridge. Aaanndd... it was scary as hell. Only one safety rope on your legs, and you have to jump, with all your will. Full story here. But glad that i did it. Never again, but gonna do swing next time i have a chance to go back there.

That afternoon, i drove straight to Otago Peninsula. I don't know how many times i stopped only to take pictures of the scenes. New Zealand has really breathtaking scenes, and in South Island, i didn't see many cars. I arrived at Otago Peninsula a bit late. My purpose to be there was finding the sanctuary of Penguin with yellow line on their eyes. I arrived there, but it seems closed already. So i just went to the beach and hanging around to watch the sunset.

After sunset, i continued driving to Kaka Point to spend a night there. After finding the place to park my car, i went straight to sleep in car and couldn't be bothered by build a tent because i will leave very early to catch sunrise in Nugget Point.

Day II

Catlin Conservation Park

Soon as i woke up, i headed to Nugget Point. The sunrise there was amazing. Only a few people there. The sun rose up faster than i thought, and i went back to the car to get make a breakfast somewhere. On the way, i saw a sea lion at the bach. So i stopped and trying to get closer to that sea lion to take photo. During the shoot, this sea lion kept on running to me. I was wondering if it wanted to be pet or wanted to bite me. So i quickly go back to my car and drive.

I spent a day driving in Catlin National Park. I can say that Catlin is one of most beautiful place in New Zealand i've seen so far. It was hot and sunny, makes everything looks beautiful. The area i explore was: Papatoai, The Lost Gypsy, Purakunu Waterfall, Curio Bay, Slope Point, and the Otara Lighthouse.

I was so interested with The Lost Gypsy. There are cafe, an RV as the workshop place, and 'museum' for the art work. The owner of Lost Gypsy created some unused stuff, second hand stuffs and trash to becomne art work. Read the full story with photos here.

My favorite was in Slope Point, the southest part in South Island. Truly nobody was there. I met only a couple who riding their bike, and sheeps. Thousand of sheeps! Sunlight almost off that day, so i drove to Te Anau and spent a night at the holiday park. That was when the problem occur. My friend, Dhani, forgot to bring me the pole for the tent, so i had to sleep inside the car again.

Day III

Te Anau - Millford Sound

Woke up quite late than i planned, i drove straight to Millford sound. It was cloudy on the way there. And it's raining the whole day in Millford Sound. I bought the ticket to do the cruise in Milford Sound. The view, the waterfalls, the sea, was amazing. Rain makes everything feels more magical. And it was cold. The coldest i've been during summer season!

The boat tour takes about 1.5 hours. From Millford Sound i drove back to Te Anau to get the new tent, then drove to Manapouri. The weather in Manapouri is very opposite of Millford Sound weather. Spent the sunny afternoon there and drove back to Queenstown and sleep in town, just to know that i bought the wrong tent. It has no door so it was open. Another night spend in the car.

Day IV

Queenstown - Wanaka

My main reason to be in Wanaka is for the sky dive. After researching on internet the best place for sky dive, my heart goes to Wanaka. Woke up early morning to get some breakfast and buy the new tent in Remarkable, I arrived in Wanaka quite early in the afternoon, but the weather was so so. Cloudy, and I could see that the clouds are quite thick. I called the Sky Dive place, and they say that they are not operating that day due to bad weather, I have to come back on the next day. So i just spend time driving around Wanaka, hike Mt Iron, and finally get to built my own tent that afternoon. But the rain fell so hard, it was cold and i spent another night sleep in the car.

Day V

Wanaka - Lindis Pass - Lake Tekapo

That morning i was so excited because the day finally has a good weather. That means i could fly. I did sky dive after lunch. It was truly one of the best experience i've done in life. I love the adrenaline, the sensation, and the view during sky diving. Full story here.

With heart full of excitement, i drove to Lake Tekapo and stopping by at Lindis Pass. Lindis Pass has really nice view. Hills in between hills, with orang-brownish colour with some purple - pinkish flowers. I managed to take photos in the middle of the street with tripod becauase it was really quiet.

On the way to Lake Tekapo, i could see Mt. Cook from far. The next place that i will visit on the next day.

Arrived in Lake Tekapo during sunset, took some photos there. Couldn't wake up during the night to take milky way photos because i was so tired from driving, and i regreted it. Because in Lake Tekapo, has a really nice spot to take milky way photos.

Day VI

Aoraki - Mount Cook National Park

This is my last day doing the freedom camping. I drove to Mount Cook National Park early morning. Love the Mount Cook because it still has some snow on top of it during that summer season. I did the trekking for 1 hour to get to the lake. The trekking path was easy. Many people go to the same way, even though a lot of people heading the same way, but i still feel like i'm walking by myself. And it's very safe to do trekking alone.

Everything was so beautiful for me. Had lunch there and took hundreds photos there, then headed back to the car park.

That afternoon i had to drive fast to go to Christchurch airport because i have flight on the next morning and to give back the car before that.

It was the summary of my road trip and doing the freedom camping in South Island. i counted it and i think i drove approximately around 2200 KM there. No wonder i was so exhausted and slept very early each night during the road trip.

Eventhough i was driving by myself, i felt very safe, eventhough on the road not many people and cars, but it was really safe to drive, and luckily many friends of mine kept on accompanying me by whatsapp and video call through the day.

The most annoying thing was about the tents. I should really check out the camping gears next time, or i should rent the RV or caravan car so i don't have to build the tent everytime i want to sleep. Well, next time, with someone or some people of course, because it was more fun. But solo road trip also fun, but better if i have someone to share the moments with.

#southisland #Queenstown

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