By Marysia Mcsperrin, DOC Communications Advisor
Having moved over from London in April last year, the Christmas break featured a lot of firsts for me. It was my first Christmas away from home, friends and family, the first warm(ish) one in the southern hemisphere and the first one where, instead of a roast dinner with all the trimmings for Christmas lunch, we ate sandwiches in the car!
Me and my partner decided to spend the break taking a road trip around the South Island, down the West Coast and back up the east. We didn’t do any real tramping or camping though, just a lot of stop-offs at stunning locations.
We saw some amazing sights and had a chance to really appreciate the diversity and beauty of New Zealand’s natural landscapes. It was hard to choose my highlights but a few places stuck out for me.
Firstly, Hokitika Gorge, which is about 30 km inland from Hokitika. We would’ve missed this if our helpful hostel owner hadn’t insisted we go and I’m so glad we did. It featured the most unreal turquoise-coloured water I’ve ever seen.
Another place that took my breath away was Lake Pukaki, on the drive between Queenstown and Christchurch. Again, we weren’t intending to stop here but the amazing alpine blue water was quite mesmerizing, and we had to take a closer look.
We finished our trip whale watching in Kaikoura, which was an incredible experience – spotting two sperm whales and pods of hector’s and dusky dolphins. It was an amazing way to spend my first Christmas break in the southern hemisphere.