This is part 3 of the New Zealand Special: We started in Picton where we had left the ferry from Wellington and then drove south with our rental car for about 500km to the small village of Franz Josef near Fox and Franz Josef Glacier. This took us the rest of the day and we merely made until closing time of the Youth Hostel we had booked from Wellington‘s tourist information.
In the 7 hours long drive we passed only five towns and not because the highway passed them by and you wouldn’t notice that there were towns nearby but just because there are just so few people in New Zealand. Personally I found that somehow cool but also a bit disturbing. I think it has something to do with being used to densely populated Europe.
Driving in New Zealand is a pleasure (maybe except for the fact that they are driving on te “wrong” side of the street but you get used to that). Sure, what they call highway would be a third class road between villages in Germany but there are not that many cars and the streets are well maintained so that is fine. And the travel pace is a nice one. You don’t rush like you would do on a Autobahn. You can take your time to do a proper road trip and to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you and New Zealand has a lot of beauty to enjoy.
But be aware that you might find unpaved roads soon after you leave the highway. Bridges are another fun. We crossed several that were one lane only. The first one I passed driving made me really nervous. If was really long and even though I looked I was not perfectly sure if noone was trying to enter the bridge from the other side. Well, but as I said: there are not many people and therefor also not many cars in New Zealand.
After Franz Josef we ventured on. Franz Josef is the spot to spend a few days if you are into hiking. You can do trips to Franz Josef Glacier and nearby Fox Glacier and there are many companies offering guided tours. We only stopped by and took some pictures.
That is actually the beauty of a road trip. Even though we didn’t have much time – we had only ten days to circle the South Island – you can cross quite big distances and still seeing a lot because you can stop whereever you want. In the first two days we stopped e.g. at the glaciers, at a nice look out parking lot with a beautiful look over the Pacific on the West Coast or at a lake during dawn with some low hanging clouds and palms in front of snowy peaks which was very beautiful. Don’t ask me for detailed locations though. These spots just popped up along the way and it is just so beautiful everywhere.
In the end we stopped in Wanaka at Lake Wanaka, about 300km further south, a mere 70km from Queenstown. Actually we would have liked to stay in Queenstown but all hostel were completely booked because it was skiing season. Keep this in mind if you plan to visit the area around Queenstown in winter. Stay tuned to find out more about Queenstown tomorrow.