If you’re an avid hiker and adventurer, explore the South Islands of New Zealand for breathtaking views and endless hiking trails. Here are some highlights from a 14 day campervan trip around the South Island of New Zealand.
THINGS TO DO IN NEW ZEALAND, SOUTH ISLAND:
Roys Peak Summit
Roys Peak is a challenging 5-6 hour return hike rewarding hikers with incredible views of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. Although the 11km of terrain is well-graded and safe, the climb is steep so a good level of fitness and constant hydration is the key to successfully completing the 1,578m summit.
What I loved about this hike is the amount of times it had me in awe. The views are spectacular all throughout the hike and you’ll be dutifully satisfied before reaching the top, but keep going while you’re there!
Once you’ve reached the top of Roy’s Peak, just sit and embrace the 360 degree views but it does get cold and windy up there so be sure to bring a windproof jacket and gloves if you have them.
- Hike Notes: Paula Lay Roy’s Peak Hike
Alex Knob Track
The Alex Knob Track is a 17.2km return track that will take you approximately 6-8 hours through a zig zag of vegetation and forest. There isn’t much of a view during the hike, you may be asking yourself ‘Why?!’ a few times as you make your way up the steep inclines but alas you’ll be rewarded with views of the Franz Josef Glacier from the Rata Lookout and Christmas Lookout before the final view of the glacier at the top.
Unfortunately for us, due to the overcast weather, the clouds shielded most of the view by the time we reached the top of the track but the two lookouts on the way to the summit already offered unforgettable views of the glacier and seascapes so we weren’t too disappointed.
- Hike Notes: Paula Lay Alex Knob Hike
Source: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier Hike
On our second day in Franz Josef, we were all eager to do our first heli-hike atop the Franz Josef Glacier. Unfortunately the weather conditions were not in our favour and the heli-hike was cancelled in the last hour.
Although we didn’t get to experience this incredible ice walk, based on so many reviews and spectacular images, its something I would definitely recommend to all those visiting the area!
- Book Heli-Hike: Franz Josef Glacier Hike
This was our first time being strapped to a beautiful stranger and jumping out of a plane at 12,000ft in the air and what an incredible experience it was!
Jumping for the first time can be an extremely nerve-wracking experience but once you’re in that seaplane and strapped to your jumper, there is no turning back. Before you know it, your legs will swing to the edge of the plane door and you’ll be pushed out and downwards into the beautiful surrounds of Wanaka. The adrenaline will have you wanting to do it again and again!
- Book Skydive: Skydive Wanaka
Kayak Milford Sound
Milford Sound is considered by many as one of the eight wonders in the world. Our kayak trip with Rosco’s looped us around the sight with an experienced guided tour for 5 hours of paddling time. This may sound like a lot of time on the water but you’ll be so engrossed by the tall waterfalls and cliff faces that you’ll wish you had more time on the kayak. This is a must-see if you want to get up close and personal with the iconic Milford Sound.
- Book Kayaking Experience: Rosco’s Kayaking
Earland Falls Track
This track is part of the greater Routeburn Falls track offering breathtaking views of the Southern Alps ending at the 174m high Earland Falls. This is an intermediate 4-6 hour return hike covering 7.5km of a well paved tracks for those after an easier day hike.
The waterfalls made for a memorable lunch spot but the pictures simply don’t do it justice, you’ll have to experience it for yourself!
- Hike Notes: Paula Lay Earland Falls Hike
We pulled off the State Highway to make a quick stop and short walk to Castle Hill. This area got it’s name from the large grey boulder formations resembling the ruins of an old castle that stretch to over 50 metres in height. These grand boulders have been featured in movies such as Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Hike Notes: Paula Lay Castle Hill Hike