Canterbury, New Zealand. It’s often the place visitors pass through to get to somewhere more exciting. But for the last 12 months, it has been our home. And we’ve gotten to explore some of this often overlooked part of New Zealand. There are some gems in the area, some well-known, some not so well-known. Here’s what we saw.
If my recent experience at Moeraki Boulders wasn’t enough, I got another lesson in taking a chance again at New Brighton Pier in Christchurch. My friends Nick, Jorg, and I had agreed on a 5am start from town. When we started off, it was drizzling quite steadily with a completely overcast sky (or as much as we could see under still-dark skies). We kept our expectations low, but still hoped for something, as we drove the hour and 15 minutes through sometimes torrential rain to New Brighton.
I’d heard about Fiordland ever since moving to New Zealand. Words like “spectacular” were usually thrown around in conjunction. So I figured that we should probably check it out during our time here on the South Island. Now, if you ever visit New Zealand and especially if you spend some time on the South Island, you might get mountain fatigue by the time you reach the southwestern corner of the South Island that is Fiordland. The Southern Alps offer stunning vistas for much of the island, and you would be forgiven for wondering if the long drive out to Fiordland would be worth it. But trust me — it is absolutely worth every kilometre and hour spent getting there. Many countries have a defining “highlight”, something that is unique (or nearly so). Fiordland is New Zealand’s defining highlight.
I’m not one for bucket lists. But ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had a list of 5 cities that I wanted to visit (in no particular order): Istanbul, Barcelona, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Rio de Janeiro. I’ve been to Istanbul and Barcelona, but didn’t think I’d make it to Sydney (simply because it was so far from the rest of the world). As luck would have it, our move to New Zealand opened up Australasia/Oceania for us to explore, and this past Christmas 2014, we made a quick trip to Sydney.
Ah, the South Pacific…conjures up images of white sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees, and warm blue waters. I’ve been on a few beach vacations to some great locations…Maui, Anguilla, Cancun. They were all very pretty. But nothing prepared me for our first foray into the South Pacific. After two years without a visit to the beach and 12 consecutive months without summer (we left London at the end of the northern winter and arrived in New Zealand at the start of the southern winter), we decided on Fiji as our beach vacation.
The south of France was our next destination for a bit of sun and heat. Unfortunately, we arrived at the tail end of a wet and cold spell. But we made the best of it, and ended up with some very nice days to explore the city and the surroundings.