Well our tour of the South Island for 2017 is over now and we had a great time down there, we started at Picton through to Christchurch and down the east coast to the catlins, then we headed across to Wanaka skipping Milford sound and Te Anau as we have been there before and through the Haast pass to the West Coast and through to Greymouth then across the top of the South to Picton, we would of liked to stay longer but our budget for travelling has been used up.
Really there is no limit to the time you could spend exploring every nook and cranny and activity that the South has to offer, as the idea of this trip was to visit every town we could on our travells through the South Island we were on the road most of the time, we travelled around 5000 kms in all and the driving we enjoy as you get to see a lot all though it does get tiring driving every day.
There were three highlights on our trip that really stand out the first was the trip in through the sounds at the entrance to Picton, we were standing right at the bow of the ferry as we entered the narrow sounds entrance and the rock formations and swirling currents that mark this narrow passage are really stunning and the views only get better as you travel on through the sounds with headlands and small bays and inlets every where.
Lucky for us the weather was on our side and the day was sunny and warm for the three hour trip from Wellington to Picton the ferry is around $200 NZD one way and it pays to watch the weather forcast as a big swell will have you rocking around as we found this out on the return from Picton to Wellington the swell was around five meters and there were a few sea sick people on board.
The second highlight that stands out is the drive through the Lewis pass, the mountains and the rivers are just stunning, and this is the only route available at this time to travel from Picton to Christchurch if you are intending on going down the east coast first, you can head down the west coast then return up the east coast but you will still encounter the same problem, as the route through Kaikoura on the east coast is still closed due to earth quake damage, the route from Christchurch to Kaikoura is also closed so you cannot go there at this time if you need to travel to Kaikoura you need to check if the roads are open before trying to travel there.
The third highlight was the Haast pass from Wanaka in the central region through to Haast which is on the West coast , and there is a big difference between the two passes, where as the Lewis pass is more open and the mountains bare rock with native bush and wide braided rivers, the Haast pass is steep sided ravines dense native bush and trees and narrow rivers and the roads are also a lot narrower with tight bends but the views are stunning around every corner.