18 décembre - 19 décembre: Dunedin

We arrive at the campground in Dunedin. Weather is grey. We set up the tent and two second later, the rain starts falling heavily. We go for a ride around and try to find a clear view but we are mostly going through fog. We do however find a very nice little Japanese restaurant. The cuisine is refined and really made the Japanese way. It is delicious. Outside the rain is still falling and we are not looking forward to a wet night tenting (that is the word in NZ for sleeping in a tent!). We take the chance to consume all of the campground internet data to contact the family and finally make ourselves up to date with all the Alterculteurs stuff. As the rain is still fallin and Tom is starting to get a cold, we decide to sleep in the car. It'll be less wet at the very least. Short night, we are supposed to see a dairy farm at 6am. The next day however, Tom is really sick so we postpone the visit to the next day and take a mini-cabin at the campground to get warm and dry.



Ginger, lemon and honey grogs for everyone today and some rest and nice and warm showers. We are going to Papa Chou for lunch, a chinese restaurant making dim sum. Again delicious ! We take spicy stuff in order that Tom warms up from his cold and it works ! We are totally fond of the radish cakes and the various kinds of dumplings. After this meal, we go to the pionneer's museum which retrace the history of the region (yes it is still raining a bit and on top it is now pretty cold too), it is a very nice visit.

20 décembre: Holy Cow

After a good night sleep, we wake up at 5:30am to go see the dairy farm. We spend there about two very instructive hours including a few scared minutes when Tom thinks one of his lens is broken (turns out ok). Find the article on this unusual dairy farm HERE.

20 décembre - 21 décembre: Cromwell

Our camping is far away from everything and we feel like we spend the next two days walking non stop to get anywhere as we have given back the rental car. We take a half-day to do the only thing there is to do there : an 8km walk around the vineyards across 4 different ones with tastings of course. It's Pinot Noir country and Chardonnay as well. We get to taste some Blanc De Noir, which is pretty suprising ! A nice little afternoon !

22 décembre - 25 décembre: Lac Wanaka

For Christmas, we treat ourselves to a few days in the same spot. Two nights camping and then in the same park, two nights in a small cabin for a comfy Christmas ! O n the 23rd, we hike along the Rob Roy peak track. See the pictures for the great view from up there. We arrive quite early at the top and hesitate to make the 24km track which would enable us to reach the carpark on the other side but we don't know wether we'll find someone to bring us back over there so we'll limit ourselves to the 16km return of this beautiful mountain side.

We get back hitchhiking, happy to be carried as our legs are very tired. Luckily there is a sauna at the camping. It knocks me out entirely. The night is rainy and cold, even when we just had a nice day. We don't sleep well. However, the next day, on the 24th, we do it again ! Personally, my legs are wooden and every muscle fiber is sore and even with the ease of this second hike to go and see the Rob Roy glacier, I really toil to get there. Tom of course trotts on without a worry ! On the way back, after having admired the view, i feel better and we get back to a normal walking rythm. The next day however, it is a disaster and my legs hurt even when i don't move them at all ! Fortunately, the temperature has soared and it is with great delight that we enjoy a Christmas dip inside the fresh waters of Lake Wanaka.

26 décembre - Fox Glacier

Not much to say really. 12Km from the village to go and see a glacier in full retrieval. Can't get too close because of ice blocks could fall. The glacier must have been magnificent some time ago, we can see the markers that put it right down until the foot of the mountain. Supposedly it is one of the only glacier to fall straight into rainforest, well it used to be at least. Now it is only accessible to the richest tourists who pay a helicopter ride to land on it with a guide. We can hear those permanently during our walk. Needless to say the immersion into the surrounding tropical nature isn't a success. Here global warming and the absurdity of the mass consumption society can be witnessed first hand, just for this, it's probably worth it anyway.

Fortunately, an American couple picks us up to get back. My legs are still sore and i'm a bit disappointed to have done all this hiking just to see from far away a little piece of blue ice, even when the landscape is quite impressive.


Tom takes advantage of the sunset to push his walk a bit further than our camping to go and take some pictures of one of the top 10 lakes in the world, Lake Matheson. He also manages to hitchhike back.

27 décembre – 28 décembre : West Coast Scenic Road and Nelson

We spend the 27th in buses, always with the same driver who is a very good story-teller, with anecdotes about every landmark we pass by. We learn with him the names of the iconic plants of the native bush. The flax used by the Maoris to weave all kinds of daily use objects ; the names of various birds such as the White Heron of which only 200 remain in New-Zealand and which seems to be a good luck charm for him at the national lotery. He also mentions some historical facts like the story about the biggest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand, in a region which had developped primarily thanks to the search for gold.


The honorable Roddy nugget

The story provided by our bus driver is much more fun than the official story so Tom has related it here below:


One day during the development of the NZ west coast, in a city called Ross, renamed since the gold town, a rather already rich man discovered a big gold nugget which turned out to be the biggest ever discovered in New-Zealand.


As he didn't need the money and that this person has an altruist soul, he put the gold nugget up for auctions and built a hospital for his town with the money raised.


He sold the nugget 400 pounds at the time to another rich person of the town who also wanted to do good while getting the chance to observe this great piece, the honorable Roddy.


As he had a hotel in the town and didn't know what to do with that nugget, he ended up painting it black. Hundreds of travellers passed in front of the reception desk saw this stone without knowing it was made out of gold.


When the story started to get out and as he didn't want thieves or other bandits to take it, he ended up giving it to the state of New-Zealand.


What a funny idea to give it to politicians who clearly didn't look out for it but rather went straight to melting it down. At the time, still under the British protectorate, the biggest gold nugget ever found by a kiwi ended up as a tea service of incredible gold purity (between 94 and 98%) and was given as a gift to the king of England at the time, King Edward II.


From person to person, this big gold nugget is now residing in Buckingham Palaca where the queen and her suite can enjoy tea in a tea service that was discovered one summer day in the small Ross village.


We stop several times to admire breathtaking landscapres. Still according to our drivers, the West Coast Highway of the South Island on which we are driving is one of the top 10 most beautiful highways in the world. And we are incluined to believe it ! The Pancakes Rocks where we spend about 20 minutes are incredible lime stone formations that still defy the scientists as to how they've come about.

In Nelson, we are discovering a very friendly and sunny town. The sunniest of New-Zealand actually ! It looks like in this city there are more veggie gardens than in the south of the island. We buy some avocados in a garage, without meeting anyone. The veggetables are there for the taking with a price attached and a box is put there to collect the money. The range of veggetables offered is quite impressive !


At the hostel, we meet up with a Swiss-German couple we had previously met in Christchurch, right at the start of our journey, they are travelling around by bicycle and the odd buses. Good times and a lot of great info to prepare our trip in the North Island which will be done on bicycles !

29 décembre - 30 décembre: Abel Tasman

One of the unavoidable things to see in this area is Abel Tasman. It is both a park and a marine reserve. We kayak two days in its pristine waters. It is possible to hike in this park but the kayak allows you to access beaches and islands which you wouldn't otherwise. It is also a great way to enjoy the marine life. We are dropped up north by a boat with our kayak and our stuff. We start off following a bunch of kiwis who seem to know the area and immediately head north. Good on us ! We get to wind our way slowly between incredible rock formation, crystal clear water and we are alone there. It is too shallow for boats and not accessible on foot. It is incredibly beautiful, movie-level beautiful. The rest of the trip stays on this note. We spend the most part of an hour enjoying a blue pinguin who is playing around in the calm waters of a bay, we follow, he dives, reappears, dives again, comes close and moves away. Super cute ! Same game with a seal who dives under our kayak, gracefully sliding through the blue emerald waters. We visit the seals colony and hears the strange cries of the baby seals, watch them from afar amazed by these beautiful creatures, and taken by their very strong marine smell ! Unforgettable two days which are difficult to express in writing, what with the sun shining on our skins, the salt permeating everything, the wind refreshing us and the self-sufficient kayak taking us everywhere, it is an incredible feeling of freedom.

31 décembre - 2 janvier: Picton

We arrive in Picton around midday, on the 31st. Already, it is the end of the year 2018. What a year ! We think of starting the year 2019 in style with a vineyards tour in the world famous Malborough Valley. At the i-site, we soon learn that the 1st everyone is off, tourist tours included of course. So instead, we decide, let's give a cheer to 2018 and start off an hour later. Four vineyards. Four quite different styles. We are very fond of our first visit, the Framingham Vineyard. First because they are organic which isn't so common around here, their vineyard is beautiful and their alleys alternatively filled with wild flowers providing a truly magical effect. Second because they are into music and art, there is a beautiful photo exhibition in their cellar from Boudica, which also has a scene to make little rock music concert including for their very own band. Third, we fall in love with their Chardonnay which explodes with fruit notes including a very strong passion fruit one we are very fond of.  

Good thing with the tour, they drop us off at our Airbnb which saves us about 3km on foot with our backpacks. We are welcomed by Manu, our airbnb host and proud Samoan woman. She is an amazing host. We don't mean to write airbnb reviews on our blog but her welcome is so warm and embracing, we are instant friends. We talk so much we nearly miss our time to get to our pub dinner for the evening. Luckily we hitchhike and a couple of old men take us into town all the while loudly bragging they left their wives and children at the campsite to go in for a drink, the NYE feeling is already in the air ! We have a nice dinner in this seafront pub which becomes the center of the festivities after 10pm. At countdown, we are outside with everyone, listening from afar to the raging concert, and looking up into the sky above the bay where the fireworks suddenly fill the sky. What a perfect way to say goodbye to 2018 !


The next day, the first day of the year, we spend indulging and resting lazily with Manu. We talk about everything and we are fascinated by all her stories about the samoan culture, her life in Australia, her move to New Zealand with her husband, the stories about her siblings and parents. We in turn share also a lot of our lives. It is a nice way to welcome the new year and celebrate continuity by sharing the memories and stories we have about our loved ones. We drink beers and bubbles as the day goes on. Already the next day we have to leave and we part as friends with the deep hope to meet again in France.  


Article made during this time:

Holy Cow - an original milking farm close to Dunedin