From Christchurch, I was making my way to Queenstown, and decided to book a one way bus tour as traveling by ground affords the best views and New Zealand is so SO BEAUTIFUL! If I could have driven I would have, but that was simply not an option for me this trip. Plus when traveling solo, I enjoy booking some group day trips because you make friends with other solo travelers to spend the evening and subsequent days with! For this same reason, I prefer to stay in hostels when traveling solo! Save money AND make friends!
Our first stop was Lake Te Anau – the largest lake in the Southern Island. Lake Te Anau is fed by the only three inland fiords and is part of Fiordland. It is also the starting location for both the Milford Track and the Kepler Track, two of New Zealand’s “Great Walks.” I unfortunately did not have time to do these treks myself but met some friends who did the Milford Track over the previous 5-7 days and loved it. The pictures they showed were beautiful and there are cottages and lodges along the way specifically for people doing these treks.
Our second stop was Lake Tekapo, the second largest lake in the Mackenzie Basin. The third and final lake in the Mackenzie Basin is Lake Pukaki. I would have stopped and spent the whole day just looking at these lakes. They are the most beautiful and serene places I’ve ever visited. It inspired me to re-enact the opening scene from the Sound of Music, where Maria is spinning around on a hilltop surrounded by wild flowers, however I withheld on account of not wanting to ruin the aforementioned serenity with my squacking and spinning. On the shores of Lake Tekapo is The Church of the Good Shepherd designed by a local Christchurch architect. This is the most photographed church in New Zealand, for obvious reasons.
Our next stop was Mount Cook, named after Captain Cook, although it was never seen or visited by Captain Cook. It’s Moari name is Aoraki, named after a person of Maori history. This is the highest mountain in New Zealand and quite an impressive view.
A last fun fact about this region of New Zealand, known as Otago, is that it’s also known as the Fruit Bowl and is known for having really delicious and succulent stone fruits, ie peaches, plums, cherries, etc. as well as dried and jellied stone fruits. If you see a fruit stand you should absolutely stop!