We were towards the end of our New Zealand South Island driving holiday. After several stops along the way, we finally made it to Arthur’s Pass National Park from Hokitika. It was late afternoon by this time and we still had to find where we were staying but at the same time, we didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity for at least a walk in the National Park.
So we settled on seeing the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. After parking the car, we could hear the water before we caught a glimpse. After weaving through some trees, we crossed a suspension bridge before climbing gradually to the viewing platform. The views around were so spectacular. It was an easy-moderate 1-hour return walk to the platform and we were not disappointed. Gosh, we love waterfalls, no matter how big or small – though the teeny trickly ones are disappointing. (We should probably add that we are yet to see the likes of Niagara, Iguazu or Victoria, so if we are blown away by any waterfalls… imagine what will happen when we see the real BIG names in waterfalls).
So after returning to the car following the bush walk, we made our way through the winding road to our accommodation for the night. We chose to stay in the heart of the National Park in a little roadside motel. And surrounding us were mountains as far as the eye could see! It was isolated, peaceful and with no wi-fi. We made good use of their foosball table 😉 Open up our curtains and the view was a wee bit surreal for us…We had to go for a walk in the evening to see that it was for real.And it was a full moon that night.
Have you visited Arthur’s Pass National Park?
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So… what is there to do in Hokitika?
“You mustn’t miss the sunset” were the last words we heard as the waitress cleared our table of dinner plates.
The sunset? Where better to view this than at the beach.
And right on cue as we arrive, the sun shyly ducks behind clouds. We wait patiently for it to show itself again before we start “snapping” away.
We love sunsets. We love the way the sky changes colour, the twinkle reflections on the water and the sight of the sun itself. We love how the horizon gobbles up the sun in an instant; how the air feels automatically different the minute the sun is out of sight.
The three must-dos (that are also free) when in and around Hokitika:
- the sunset
- the glow worms and
- Hokitika Gorge
As already described.
(2) Glow Worm Dell
This is free and easy to get to; easier than when we tried seeing glow worms on the North Island a few years back. No queues, no boats…. Only a short track, right off the main road out of Hokitika lies the Glow Worm Dell.
Be sure to go after dark. The track is pitch black with only lighting at the start, so bring a torch to see where you are going but turn it off when you are at the end.
If your timing is right, you will enter the area with only a few (hundred) speckles of blue-green glows but within minutes, the area is splattered with “a sky full of stars”. And if your timing is perfect, you will be lucky enough to get the place to yourself in complete silence – a little bit of magic right there in Hokitika. Unfortunately we were a little slack and did not take any pictures to share.
Word of advice: It’s not an epic experience, expect it to be short and sweet – it is a 5-minute walk from the car park and the viewing area isn’t huge.
(3) Hokitika Gorge
Don’t let the 30km detour deter you. It was by far ONE of the most incredible natural things we have laid our eyes on.
The colour of the water is like nothing we have seen before… so vibrant, so turquoise!The road to the car park of the gorge is narrow and sealed for most of the way. It becomes gravel on the last stretch. And then it is only an easy 10-15 minute walk down (with a swing bridge crossing included) to the gorge viewing platform.
We saw plenty and did plenty in the South Island of New Zealand and these three things were easily in the list of our favourites! So if you are ever in Hokitika, don’t miss these if you can help it.
Hokitika is located on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island – an adorable little town. It was a flying visit, one night only on the way to Arthur’s Pass from Franz Josef for us.
Have you been to Hokitika?
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The moment we drove up the highway and laid eyes on it… we were speechless! Water so blue, on a day where the sky was brilliantly blue. Sweeping mountainous backdrops. Yep…. no words can describe the sheer beauty.
And so, we won’t even try to use words… We do hope however our favourite photos of Lake Tekapo can do it some justice.
Lake Tekapo during the day:
Lake Tekapo at dusk:
Where have you been that has left you speechless?
We want to hear about a place you have been to where you were so overwhelmed with its beauty. Tell us here.
There are always plenty of things to love when travelling as well as things to like, things to be apathetic about and things to hate.
For example, living in Australia EVERY time we travel overseas, it usually involves a relatively long-flight. We HATE that…. The closest we can get to being in another country from Sydney is 3-hours away to New Zealand. But in the scheme of things it really is nothing.
New Zealand is teeming with so much goodness when it comes to travel, we don’t know why we haven’t been more often and sooner. Back in 2011, we did pay a flying visit to the North Island – what we saw was just a snippet. What we saw this time has definitely opened up our desire to go back.
The food so amazingly fresh, like this salmon dish we had right on a salmon farm. And to stay in a National Park and have this as our backyard (literally right outside our window). Is it too much to say, “we LOVE New Zealand”? But before we get to that, let’s talk about the things we hated…
What we hated
Actually, we didn’t hate much.
We hated only the sandflies. Everywhere we stopped, we felt like they would swarm towards us. They could smell our fresh “Aussie” meat.
Getting back into the car was a carefully planned operation in itself. Waving our arms around our bodies, while spinning around to ward them off before stealthy throwing opening the doors and sliding in… in the hope that we had lost them.
Nope… we failed miserably many times. Our ankles were mauled by these little pests. The bites would blister and itch like you can only imagine. We WERE going to show you pictures of our wounds but felt it was unfair to subject you to such images.
Score: Sand Flies 500 Le and David 0
What we loved
We could quite easily sum this up into ONE thing. New Zealand is beautiful… really beautiful!
We loved the scenery. It was ever changing. It was nature. It was pictereque. The fact, we could turn the corner and be graced with a gorgeous lake, mountain, valley.
We probably don’t need to give any more reasons, but here a couple more.
We also loved the open roads. As you may have gathered, we love road trips… and we love trips where the destination is exciting but also where the journey itself with the pretty scenery flying by our windows. Open roads give such a sense of freedom! We loved that we could go bushwalking and not fear facing deadly snakes (or any other deadly animal for that matter) along the way. Instead, we were able to do plenty of
And most of all, we love that New Zealand is so close to us and that we can just hop on a flight and be there within 3 hours.
Have you been to New Zealand?
Tell us about your thoughts and experiences here.