Traveling around the South Island of New Zealand with the backseat bandits

I was feeling really bad about not posting a blog in SO long, but then I reminded myself of my intentions with this blog in the first place. I in NO way consider myself to be a good blogger. In fact, that’s why I challenged myself in creating this #dostuff blog, so I could hold myself accountable to get up and do things and go on adventures and then blog about them to share what I’ve learned with you. I’m golden on the whole adventure going thing, but when it comes to blogging about it, it’s a work in progress. I will get there. Bear with me.

It’s crazy to think that my time in Wellington is at its end. It’s like realizing you only have 2 bites left of your Chipotle Burrito.. I only have 8 days left here!! Can you believe it?! I certainly can’t so help me out. I just got back from one of the most remarkable trips I think I’ve ever been on. I spent 10 days in the South Island with my cousin, his girlfriend from New Zealand and one of her friends from high school. We pretty much toured the entire island in our precious little campervan we named Pearl. I was pretty spoiled for my first road trip ever so any after this will have a high bar to live up to!


This is Pearl

For your reading ease I have split this 10 day trip up into 2 blogs so I don’t overwhelm you with words. Read both!

Day 1: I was picked up in Christ Church by a dear friend that I met in the airport before I came to NZ and she took me to the Botanic Gardens where we saw these cute little fellas. It blows my mind that it’s spring here and starting to get warm when I’m used to pumpkins and leaves falling everywhere this time of year.

IMG_3226 IMG_3229 IMG_3232

Once we got Pearl and picked up our crew we headed West to Punakaiki through Arthur’s Pass. On the way we stopped at Castle Hill, one of the locations where they filmed the last battle in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The sheep shared their boulders with us as we climbed and hopped from rock to rock. Y’all these are some big rocks.

Picking up the crew.

Picking up the crew.

Arthur's Pass

Arthur’s Pass

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

The Sheep of Castle Hill

The Sheep of Castle Hill





Manu on her boulder

Manu on her boulder



We made it to Punkaiki that evening and parked in a friend’s backyard that had a precious dog named Huckleberry.

Day 2: The next morning we drove north to see the Pancake Rocks. The rocks were perfectly stacked just like a plate of flapjacks and the water that blasted through the blowholes was like an incoming of syrup.




Then we drove south all the way down the West Coast taking in the sights and beauty of the South Island. We stopped at Franz Josef Glacier and walked up to the biggest chunk of ice I have ever seen in my life. The rocks along the way looked like big pieces of salmon with pesto on them. When we got tired we stopped along the side of the road, had no idea where we were, but woke up to the sun shining on a beach with a rainbow over the water. I think it was meant to be. 🙂





What we woke up to

What we woke up to

Day 3: Wanaka or bust! Today we drove to Wanaka and did the Mt. Iron Track walk that let us see the view from the top of Wanaka. There are no words to describe this country! It is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It’s the only place where I’ve seen water, green, hills, sheep and Snowy Mountains all in one frame. It’s truly incredible. So we took this opportunity to have a photo shoot which was a blast. Although I’ve been telling you about the great places we went, I don’t want to fail to include how great the PEOPLE I went with are. Luke, Manu and Jonty are some of the most fun, caring, adventurous people I know and we made some amazing memories on this trip.

The gang

The gang

IMG_0602 IMG_0608 IMG_0605 IMG_0601

That afternoon we found #thatWanakaTree, the famous tree that grows in the lake. It’s so random, so bizarre and that’s why I love it. There was an old vintage cinema that sold warm, fluffy cookies at half time and home made ice cream so we decided to relax that evening and watch Everest. Relaxing is exactly opposite of what it ended up being. Everest is one of the most stressful movies I’ve seen! My goodness! Manu and I were leaning forward on the edge of the couch the entire time. So I bought a pint of ice cream at the supermarket afterwards to calm my anxiety.


Trying to be like the tree.


Day 4: In the morning we drove to Queenstown via the Crown Range, another location where The Lord of the Rings was filmed. SO beautiful! Old Pearl twisted her way up the windy roads and as much as I loved Pearl, it was like riding a roller coaster for the 2 sitting in the back seats. Needless to say I was happy when the twisty roads dumped us out at Queenstown.

Queenstown is the adventure capitol of NZ and reminded me of a little ski lodge town. Manu had some friends from high school working at a tourism company there and they were able to put us on a tour that included a coach out to Glenorchy and then an hour jet boat ride up the Dart River. WOW. Taryani, (I hope I spelled that right) if you are reading this, THANK YOU x1,000,000 for giving us that experience. I will never forget it! The weather was absolutely perfect that day and gave us stunning views of the mountains and lakes.



Thanks to my loving parents we were able to take a small break from sleeping in the campervan and stay at a hotel down on the water. Going from Pearl to the Hilton definitely made us feel like royalty. Real beds, warm showers, clean towels, buffet breakfast, free cookies, we were in heaven.


Juice at Breakfast. Ft. 2 Cappuccinos

Check out the next blog for Days 5-10! Thanks for following! Check out my Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more fun!

Instagram: NicoleERenard

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/theladyliberty

Love always,

Nicole #dostuff #NewZealand #NewNicole

Comments +

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


I've traveled to 11 countries in the last 4 years!



Whether it's travel, cooking, or something crazy, I'd love to hear about it! Click the button below so we can chat!

let's chat!