Places to discover on the South Island

by Stephanie - 05/05/2010 13:49:00

Congratulations Emma!
Our May blog winner

New Zealand

Be guided to use a telescope on Mount John
and see with your own eyes some incredible
stars and constellations.  

Emma Searles has written a blog post for us once before, in November last year, and won herself a tidy stack of prizes including free hostel nights at BASE and Escape Rental campervan hire. Here is a blog post she sent in from a recent trip where she took full advantage of the Queenstown Rafting white water rafting trip prize we sent her.

For those visiting the South Island there is a lot to see and do. 

In March, I left my Christchurch base and spent an evening at Lake Tekapo. Having booked in advance, I was able to attend an 'Earth & Sky' Stargazing tour. You are taken to the top of Mount John and guided on how to use the telescopes, and your own eyes, to see an incredible amount of stars and constellations. It was truly breathtaking, especially being able to see Saturn and the rings around it! 

Awakening the next day to views of Lake Tekapo's aquamarine waters was also astounding. Taking photos of the 'Church of the Good Sheperd' is a must. From there, it is a scenic drive to Wanaka where 'Puzzling World' will keep all ages entertained for hours, whether in their split level maze, puzzle cafe or Illusion rooms. On route to Queenstown, a stop at the picturesque former gold-mining town of Arrowtown is worthwhile. It feels like a slice of the past thanks to the workers' cottages, timber-framed shops and tree-lined avenues.

Soon enough, via some giddy heights, you will reach infamous Queenstown. There is so much to do if you enjoy being outdoors. Highlights for me were the Gondola and Luge (racing aplenty), T.S.S Earnslaw steamboat trip and my favourite, white-water rafting. Despite the early start and wetsuit shennigans, we boarded our dinghies, paddles in hand and set off. Due to the shortfall of rain, the Shotover River - the wilder of the two - was closed so our trip took place on the Kawarau. It is gorgeous. The day was a perfect balance of paddling, swimming, rapids and sightseeing. I heartily recommend it.

The planned trip to Milford Sound had to be cancelled due to weather conditions so I would advise having a back up as it's not the first time I've enountered this. Instead, I chose to head to Dunedin to take a self guided tour of the city, which I followed the next day with a trip to the nearby Otago Peninsula. Here, it is possibe to see seals lounging blissfully unaware on the beach and, if you time it right, penguins. The peninsula is also home to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. The grounds are stunning and the views from the castle are really impressive. Makes you wonder how so much tragedy could happen at such an amazing place...

All of this was done in a speedy six days, so be prepared for some long car journeys when in New Zealand.
However, they are truly worth the effort.

- Do you know of good places for New Zealand working holiday makers to visit? Let us know in the comments!

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