East Coast and the Best of the Rest

After the West Coast and the Southern Alps, it was time to hit the East Coast for the last part of our NZ adventure.

Steampunk and Penguins

Oamaru was our first stop on the coast. The small but charming city is home of a Victorian Quarter with a lot of small shops (from books to second-hand nick nacks). Perfect location for a stroll.

Oamaru
Oamaru

Steampunk HQ is the other semi-famous attraction of Oamaru. We didn’t go inside the funky museum but took a few photos of the huge locomotion in front.

Steam Punk HQ
Steampunk HQ

After lunch, we continued south towards Hampden were we were aiming for the Kiwi Holiday Park. The reason why we chose this particular campground was easy – it is run by a Swiss. We stayed at the same place on our last trip and were happy to revisit it (especially Kevin).

After setting up our tent we headed to nearby Moeraki to spot penguins and seals. We could only see two penguins but dozens of seals just meters away. It’s really quite something to see them up close in real life.

Penguin at Moeraki
Penguin at Moeraki

Dunedin

The next morning we said good-bye to our Swiss host and headed towards Dunedin.

On the way, we stopped at the famous Moeraki Boulders – a bizarre formation of very round rocks. Later on, we stopped again at Shaq Point for some more seal spotting (there were plenty).

Moeraki Boulder (assembled and disassembled)
Moeraki Boulder (assembled and disassembled)

The next day we first drove out to the nearby peninsula to spot some albatrosses. We were lucky and saw two of these majestic and very big birds flying by.

On the way back to the town we stopped at a lookout above a beautiful beach which offered one of the best views we had in New Zealand (straight out of a travel brochure).

What a View
What a View

After lunch, we visited the Dunedin Public Art Gallery which had some interesting exhibits. As always we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit.

Sofa - Half Painted
Sofa – Half Painted

Later on, we also had a quick peek at the picturesque railway station before heading for a very nice dinner at the Speight’s Brewery.

Dunedin Railway Station
Dunedin Railway Station

It all Ends in Christchurch

Before the five-hour-drive to Christchurch, we stopped at Dunedin’s Botanical Garden. Besides a wide array of flowers, there were also a number of aviaries with a lot of playful birds. Indeed a nice start into the day.

As Christchurch was already our last stop we (successfully) put up our camping gear for sale and stayed the last four days in an Airbnb. Besides five (or was it eight) resident cats it even came with a big vegetable garden and some chickens.

After a good night’s sleep in a solid bed, we headed out to explore New Zealand’s capital.

First stop was the huge Botanic Garden which, besides a lot of other plants, is home of two very beautiful rose gardens.

Christchurch Botanic Garden
Christchurch Botanic Garden

It is probably due to New Zealand’s English heritage that almost every town has a Botanic Garden and often the roses are the stars. We definitely didn’t complain and enjoyed the sweet smells and gorgeous colours.

Lovely Rose
Lovely Rose

After lunch, we took a stroll through the inner city. As you might remember Christchurch was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2011 which caused 185 deaths.

Compared to our last visit in early 2013 a lot of buildings have been reconstructed but quite a few haven’t. For example, the Christchurch Cathedral is still in ruins. Apparently they have now finally decided to rebuild it – I guess it’s our duty to come back one day and check.

Christchurch Cathedral - Still under Repair
Christchurch Cathedral – Still under Repair

Later on, we visited Christchurch Art Gallery where we especially liked “chicken / man” by Ron Mueck. Art is Art.

"chicken / man" by Ron Mueck
“chicken / man” by Ron Mueck

The next morning, we drove out to Banks Peninsula with its many bays and fantastic (but very windy) lookouts. We spent a few hours in lovely Akaroa which has quite a bit of French history and charm (and a nice French Bistro where we had lunch).

Lovely Banks Peninsula
Lovely Banks Peninsula

The Arctic and Burgers

On our last full day in New Zealand, we decided to visit the International Antarctic Center (which we missed on our last trip).

Hazel the Explorer
Hazel the Explorer

Due to its proximity, Christchurch is the gateway to the Antarctic. Therefore quite a few nations have their research centres here from where they fly to the eternal ice.

Next Stop Antarctic
Next Stop Antarctic

The Museum is quite interactive and so we were able to witness an Antarctic storm (Kevin in shorts) as well as a bumpy ride in a Hägglund. Some good movies, rescue penguins and huskies made it a great experience.

Hägglund
Hägglund

For our last meal, we found Bacon Bros Present Shaka Bros which served some of the best burgers we ever had (and we had a lot). It was so yummy that we went again the next day.

Best Burger - Ever
Best Burger – Ever

As our flight back to Singapore was only in the afternoon the next day we visited the Canterbury Museum. We especially liked the quirky but very cute story of Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House. As so often on our trips, a visit to the museum is time well spent.

Fred and Myrtle's Paua Shell House
Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House

Back we are

That, my dear readers, brings us already to the end of our epic New Zealand trip.

New Zealand never disappoints – there is always something new to discover and the nature is often just out of this world. There are probably not many places in the world where you can see penguins and seals from up close or look at the sea and mountains at the same time.

Yes - the Seal was that Close
Yes – the Seal was that Close

It definitely also offers fantastic hikes (we will never forget our second epic Abel Tasman journey), friendly people, good food, relaxing hot springs and thermal wonders. It’s countries like these which makes us want to travel again and again.

We are quite sure we will back again at some point in the future.

Practicalities

Where we slept the last few nights of our trip:

Home from Home in Hampden
Home from Home in Hampden

Food

One for the Road
One for the Road

East Coast

Christchurch

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