Driving around New Zealand was both easy and hard at the same time: almost every road is a narrow, winding strip jumping over epic landscapes. You can and have to take your time, because going anywhere will take longer than expected… enjoy the journey, not the destination, as they say 🙂 With a population the size of Lithuania, spread over a landmass the size of the UK, and a nature that developed separately from the rest of the world until 800 years ago, it is a nature lovers’ paradise.

Lake near Wanaka. We climbed up the steep mountain for 5h to enjoy these views of mountain reflections in the still mirror waters. After the climb in the heat we were able to throw ourselves in the glacial lake waters, no problem!

At first sight, it felt a bit too British and civilised, especially after all our time in Asia. But now that we’ve spent a few months living and working with locals, we appreciate much more the Kiwi ways: relaxed and cheerful people, history of European and Maori/Pacific islander influence, some friendly resistance to the big Australian neighbour, efforts to re-establish native forests and birds after many external animals and plants were imported in the last 150 years… and so much more.

One of the highlights for us was to walk in the native regenerated forests with strange dinosaur-era plants like these fern trees

That’s how Kiwi fruit grows! We found that here the word “kiwi” can mean at least 4 things: New Zealander, funny bird, berry or indeed fruit!

Meet the kea, the only alpine parrot in the word – they live in the mountainous snowy areas, only in NZ. They are very curious and sometimes mischievous: this one was slowly destroying the car of an unfortunate hiker, removing all rubber parts with its long strong beak. Tourists loved the photo opp!

We drove and camped in our van for around 5 weeks in total, but there is still so much more to see and explore. In particular, we could have done many more of those incredible several-day hikes, the only way to access some of the most beautiful spots (if only we had had sleeping bags, and courage for hiking with backpacks hehe!). So even after 4 months here, we will be leaving with a feeling that we want to come back and discover more.

Find Cesar in this picture!

Molesworth station is the largest farm in New Zealand. It took us a day of driving to cross it, virtually not meeting anyone, except for cowboys on horses, mustering the cows with a dozen shepherd dogs.

No-one in sight

Some farms here have deers instead of cows, growing them for venison meat just the same as beef

We hiked up the valley to see this beautiful glacier melting into waterfalls

Glacier river

Sunrise in the fjords – Milford sounds

In the fjords – we visited on a boat, but some lucky ones look the little tourist planes

Little hike in the Kahurangi national park

In Mordor 😉 Tongariro crossing and Emerald lakes

Volcano of the Mount Doom fame

We loved stopping in the little roadside stalls to get fresh local fruit and veggies. Just need to drop the right amount in the “honesty box”.

The North half of the country has many beautiful white sand beaches, that look very enticing but actually the water is too cold… at least in the weather we got.

These beautiful huge purple flowers are everywhere here: gardens, roadsides and beach

Another beautiful flower

Appropriately named Bay of Islands

Cathedral cove

Almost tropical

Gannet colony

Further south, the coast is much more rugged and wild, so swimming does not look appealing at all! But it’s very beautiful, natural, and full of animals and seafood like mussels, oysters and abalone that everyone can pick.

Pancake rocks – silly name but such a crazy amazing place

Wild coast

In most beaches you can collect giant mussels at low tide, nice protein addition to the campers pasta dinner 😛


We saw many seals, sea lions and penguins chilling out on the beaches

Surreal driftwood beach

Only seeds rolling in the wind

In many beaches it is allowed to drive. Better to have a 4×4 to not get stuck in the sand.. but on this 90-mile Beach the sand is so compact that it’s actually an official highway with a speed limit of 100km/h!

We are going to stay in New Zealand until mid-May, mostly working in the winery and vineyard here in Blenheim. Hopefully it won’t get too cold, as autumn has already started!