Thursday, October 16, 2008

it's (kind of) up to you!

Today I handed in my dissertation. Ta-da!!!! :

The year is now finished for me, and I think I'm going to struggle finding things to do over the summer, having been so continuously productive and hard-working all year round. First on the list, though, is something I have been craving for months now - getting out of Christchurch.

I can't really afford this, but I'm going to do it anyway! This is my only chance before my summer job starts, and I'll only spend one night away, possibly two if I find somewhere to stay that's cheap enough.

The problem is, I can't really decide where to go. So I have a list here of several different options, all of which are close enough to Christchurch to visit without churning through ridiculous amounts of petrol. And I'd love to know your opinions on them. There are three areas I'm thinking of visiting, with several options about where to stay within these areas.

Inland and south of Christchurch.
Mount Cook across Lake Pukaki.
Option one: Above, Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand and, I think, the southern hemisphere. If I go to the Mackenzie Country at all I'll be going here and doing one of the tracks in the national park, because I have been craving these mountains for yonks. There is also the option that I could stay here at the backpackers or at the campsite. Probably a bit more expensive, but imagine waking up and walking outside to see... that!

Option two: I could stay at Lake Tekapo. This is a peaceful, beautiful spot to stay, as long as you avoid the tourist buses passing through. It's only about ... an hour? an hour and a half? from Mount Cook so it wouldn't be a problem getting there. A bit cheaper, and it also has a FANTASTIC pizza restaurant!

The coast on the other side of the island from me! Much wetter, much wilder, and full of sandflies!

Option one: I could stay at Okarito, a tiny village on Okarito Lagoon. Classic West Coast beauty, with a gorgeous beach and a kayakable lagoon. Not too touristy. From here I could easily visit the glaciers, and it would be a little cheaper than staying right near the glaciers.

Option two: Or I could stay at the township near Franz Josef glacier, which would allow me to easily visit the glacier and also visit other spots around the southern West Coast.

Option three: Punakaiki. Famous for its "pancake rocks" and stunning coastline. Beautiful rivers, also kayakable. A little too far away from the glaciers to visit them, but that's okay, there's plenty to do around Punakaiki itself.

North of Christchurch, on the coast.
Kaikoura is a small town with delicious, FRESH seafood, and a thriving whale/dolphin watching industry. Some beautiful mountains are a backdrop for the town, and there's some nice walks along the coast. A little bit more expensive than the other places, probably.

So - what do you think? I'll be honest and say I'm leaning towards Mackenzie Country, simply because I've been craving the bigness and stillness of the mountains for so long now. All the same, when I look at those photos of the West Coast I start to salivate a little. And to drive to the West Coast I'd have to drive through the mountains of Arthur's Pass National Park, and so I could get my mountain-fix on the way there or back. I also salivate when I think about the fish of Kaikoura. :)

I can't promise I'll follow your advice. But I would like to know what you think!


Sarakastic said...

I love the idea of a glacier in summer, but it really looks like you can't go wrong.

Jonny[KaikouraNZ] said...

NZ is a great place, if anyone reading this ends up in Kaikoura give me a yell on skype (fishandstaykaikoura) or email and I will give you some inside info on all the free hotspots and if your keen I run a affordable scenic and fishing charter. I also have a backpackers - check it out at

~Virginia~ said...

okay. this is like telling us to pick from breath-takingly awesome or awe-inspiring fabulousness. i say you can't go wrong with any of those. hooray for indecision! :)

E. said...

Oh, is it too late for my two cents? These photos have me near tears---and I'd say any and all, except that Okarito is nearest and dearest to my heart, and so wins my vote.

But whatever the choice, live it up! And I'll be wishing I were there, too.