Marlborough Sounds - like many visitors to the South Island, our experience of the Marlborough Sounds was limited to the ferry ride into Picton and travelling along the Queen Charlotte's Drive. But the glimpses of hidden inlets, golden beaches and lush, forested hills has put it firmly in my top 10 of places to go and explore properly. Our of season, the Queen Charlotte track is open for mountain biking - and with the lack of crowds that flock to Abel Tasman, what are you waiting for?
Nelson Lakes National Park - definitely one of the remoter parts of the South Island - head here for some solitude and a good old tramp!
Golden Bay - a place to relax, take life easy and escape from the world for a few days
Arthur's Pass - the TranzAlpine train journey is supposed to be one of the most spectacular in the world, but sadly we didn't have time to fit it in. Though if the weather was good, I'd also want to take in the views from the summit of Avalanche Peak
The mountains - ok, that's a bit generic, but I'm a mountain girl at heart and boy, did we drive through a lot of mountains... The beautiful drive through Mt Aspiring national park, and our all-too-brief time round Mt Cook reminded me of alpine adventures and the magnificent views you get from mountain summits - I was down in the valleys but longed to be on top of the mountains.
And places not to return to? Well, we didn't feel our heartstrings tugging when we left behind the grey gloom of Bluff and Invercargil...but perhaps we were just there on a bad day.
Don't miss!In no particular order, my top 10 Trip highlights:
- Swimming with dolphins in the Catlins
- Trekking the Routeburn - great track, fantastic views
- Floating through pitch-black caves with thousands of glow worms overhead with Underworld adventures
- Golden Bay - the wild expanse of Wharaiki beach with its nursery pool of baby fur seals, followed by the tranquility of Shambhala and the nearby, lively Mussel Inn
- Sunrise over Milford Sound
- Sea kayaking round Abel Tasman National Park
- Swimming in Scorcher Bay followed by great coffee and lunch at Scorch-O-Rama
- The West Coast - desolate, beautiful beaches, weird rocks and tongues of ice- trapped between the mountains and the sea, this is one place I would definitely like to explore more
- Mt Cook National Park and Lake Tekapo - beautiful moutains, stargazing and hot pools - what more could you want?
- Wine tasting in Marlborough country