The closest place to home - South Island New Zealand.
An epic 7 day journey of the South Island of New Zealand began at Christchurch airport and we eventually returned to Christchurch covering a total 1151.72 miles. In order to cover such vast distance and taking into account accommodation along the way, it was decided that renting a camper van was the best way to go. There are many comparison website to find the best deals on booking a camper van and it's always good to shop around first. The camper van provided the flexibility of being self-contained as well as being able to travel as and when required.
The journey took me across the majority of the South Island covering the regions of Canterbury, West Coast, Otago and Southland. The South Island of New Zealand reminded me very much of Scotland, particularly the weather. On occasions there were four seasons in a day despite it being spring. The South Island is very beautiful but I'm biased and still prefer Scotland. The scenery of the South Island is truly outstanding with a vast array of mountains, glaciers and lakes. At Lake Pukaki, I've never seen water in a shade of blue that was so mesmerising. The distinctive blue is caused by the glacial flour which is extremely fine grounded rock particles from the glaciers that feeds the lake. The colour appears to change as the sunlight hits the particles.
Travelling around the South Island did make me miss Scotland and did make me appreciate what a magnificent country I live in. I thoroughly enjoy my trip, the 7 days of loose planning, camping at different sights as well as visiting smaller towns. For those who are deciding to rent a camper van, I would recommend you download an app called "campmate". The app will provide you with locations of camp sites, both paid and free. Camping for free is known as freedom camping and there are signs around towns and cities informing where you can camp for free. The app also provides location for dump stations as self-contained camper vans need to be cleared of waste and grey water. It's highly advisable to visit a dump station daily and also to fill the camper van with clean water on a daily basis as you never know when your next chance to do so will be.
Some parts of the journey were really long due to the mountainous terrain of the South Island-especially to Milford Sounds and Mount Cook villiage. There is only one route there and back and it can feel a bit like heading from Glasgow to Campbell Town. However when you get there the views and surroundings are just breathtaking.
The concluding journey back into Christchurch was a very somber one. I did not take any photos in Christchurch but seeing how the city was affected by the earthquake of 2011 was indeed a shocking moment. Once monumental buildings, such as the cathedral, have suffered substantial damage and many building are beyond repair and marked for demolition. The earthquake has cause many people to be displaced; Christchurch is no longer the second largest city in New Zealand. Up until today Christchurch has not fully recovered and the city is still in a process of rebuilding. All in all the 7 day trip around the South Island has provided me the opportunity to visit some amazing place and landscapes however one need to note that in order to take in what the South Island can truly offer and all the experience at an easier pace, at least a 2 week trip would be better suited.