We spent 3 weeks on the south island, driving around in our camper van. Rules have changed down here with much more restrictions on freedom camping. But we still had a lot of fun and went camping in great spots, skiping all campgrounds. It's just getting harder. The autumn color were amazing around the lakes, but the drought was gone and we got some good heavy rain in Nelson and more rain to Wanaka, driving on the west coast. Even though we couldn't do all the hikes we wished, we had a great 5 days on the greenstone and routeburn tracks. The peaks started to get their winter coats with layers of snow, and the valley were full of color. For the good hikers, the timing given by the DoC is a piece of cake, and the Routeburn track could be done in one day from either side. But one night at Mackenzie or Falls hut let you enjoy more time for side walk or photography, to try to catch the right moment.
It rained so much on the west coast that one window of our van started to leak seriously and after leaving our friends in Nelson, our bed had sought up that was coming in through that window. Wet nights... And we finally called the agency to ask them if they could do something for us because the weather was necessarily looking good where we would go. Kind enough, they organized an exchange in the evening after we had the van checked by a mechanic who couldn't do much as he didn't have a new window.
Even though the rain turned a few days to "drive only" days, it created a magical atmosphere in fjordland, on the road to Milford Sound. Karen told us it would be still worth it to go there under the rain and it was. After Homer tunnel we were surrounded by waterfalls coming from everywhere, waouw! Add a mist and it's with new eyes that I discovered this road down to Milford Sound.
Although it wasn't summer anymore, we did try the "summer" shower that was in the van and hanged it on the back of the van, like proper backpackers. It was cold, it worked, and we were happy to be back in the van to warm up and dry. Heat on! But even a cold shower feels good.
3 weeks down south was really short, but even short, the south of New-Zealand is a landscape paradise. Next season I want to see is more of the winter/spring time with much more white around.
Photos, photos... here they come!
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