Where the evenings last forever, the skies glow once, just before another thick storm cloud bears down to the land. That land, a last frontier on this earth elsewhere so consumed and cultivated. Here birds still sing their songs, the waterfalls pulsate, the earth moves relentlessly. Where magically nothing seems to have changed when everywhere else is running havoc. Welcome to the deep south.
On the road again. Hanmer – Bluff 
Three months in Hanmer Springs had to find their end, and all over it wasn’t a bad time. Quitting the restaurant job and joining a 5* motel made the last weeks way more bearable, just as the onset of summer. Yet, that car, tent and bike were waiting for new adventures, so did we with crossing off day by day on the anticipation calender.
This time Daniel and I had spent weeks planning the journey meticulously, as the key points of interest were bound to boat schedules. But first off, it was time to say farewell to the Hurunui as we crossed Lewis Pass towards the West Coast. Surfing in Westport was a suitable inauguration to start the late big trip, our longest one to date over three weeks. With scenic stops all along the winding coastal highway we made our way down to the glaciers and then crossed Haast Pass the next day.
Wanaka, tourist and adventurers’ central in the southern lakes region, was to be our first major destination. With its reputation as a mountainbiking mecca it had always topped my wishlist, however we ended up staying not a single night… Instead, camping at nearby Lake Hawea turned out both more affordable and ambient, whilst just as spectacular with the majestic lake.
As a special treat we had booked passes to the Cardrona Alpine resort, which is, well, alpine. That our lovely little Hupi (Toyota 1997) made it up the access road from 400 to 1700m was close to a miracle, and the bike trails up there left us breathless just as well. It’s a downhill riders’ playground, that’s where the ski lifts come in handy but don’t be fooled, the technical trails are the real challenge. Daniel got to experience that when his bike bucked and went its own ways down the mountain… Nonetheless a fantastic day on the mountains.
After that exhilaration we took it easy and enjoyed Wanaka’s amenities like pizza places and cinema. Discovery mode: On, I couldn’t help but keep exploring the trails along the lakeshore, stunning views and pure flow included. After all, the hype is real and Wanaka is heaven for bike riders!
Back to the good ol’ Otago days, we crossed through familiar ground thereafter. Following the Clutha River we visited Alexandra and Clyde again, to cherish the memories of our vineyard-and-apricot time in Feb/March.
Where’d all the penguins go?
If you believe everyone, the Catlins would be one of the more scenic places around New Zealand. That stretch of coast on the Pacific, eastern side of the south island, has an impressive density of waterfalls and lighthouses but somehow didn’t capture me that much. Was it missing out on the penguins and dolphins? The direct comparison to the truly wild and characterful west coast? Between Nugget Point and Waipapa nothing carried me away, really. That left some space for memories about the Very South, though…
Next: Where the rainforest grows. A hike on the Third Island.