as some of you know, i had pretty much decided that the south island wasn't in the cards for me this go round because everything i read about it said it's best explored in a car. not being the most confident driver and certainly not wanting to get behind the wheel on the left side of the road, i'd put it on the side burner. that is, til i found a travel partner. and, along comes sophia the fearless, who not only had mad driving skills, but an eclectic mix of music to keep us entertained. we boarded a plane for christchurch, excited to begin our thelma and louise adventure, a movie she'd never heard of.
unlike the movie, there was no drama, except in the mind boggling landscape that makes you scream "no way, can't be!" there was no car chase, but the speed at which we covered so much ground was absolutely thrilling. and, though there was no driving off a cliff, it felt like it when we soared up a mountain in a gondola and saw the views below during our final scene in queenstown.
our six-day whirlwind tour of the west coast was nothing short of spectacular. the mind-bending scenery was so surreal, i questioned whether we were still on earth. if it weren't for the sandflies giving me a reality check, i swear i could have been transported to another planet. there were so many wow moments that after awhile, it seemed like mother nature was just showing off!
in one road trip we went to the english countryside, the swiss alps, the waterfalls of bali, the glaciers of norway, the mountains of peru, and countless other places. it was seriously good bang for a buck! this was like a location scout's wet dream, and often, i felt like we were driving through one movie set after another for lord of the rings, on golden pond, any of the indiana jones trilogies, and so on. seeing the vast open spaces with more animals than people, i had the distinct sensation that we were time traveling. the farmers, the homesteaders, could have been pioneers from a different era if it weren't for their modern clothes and mobile phones.
so many highlights, it's hard to choose, but here are a few of my favorite moments…
- driving up to a beach just in time for a supernatural light show as the sun was going down.
- waking to the sounds of crashing waves and roosters crowing.
- eating breakfast while watching cows having theirs on our front lawn.
- walks to the waterfalls and glaciers.
- the lavender farm, where we met the adorable coco, a mini-pig who loved cuddles, and the alpacas, who were terrified of her.
- the cruise in milford sound, seals, dolphins, the tasman sea
- the floating underwater observatory where we saw marine life in their natural environment.
- a tasty curry at an asian restaurant and the curious audio of chinese lessons playing in the restroom.
- finding clean public toilets… with toilet paper.
- the lodging where our thoughtful host had the fireplace going before we arrived, and a tour of their unique home, which is a bus.
- beef sticks. need i say more?
- a lazy day in queenstown. yes, the beauty did live up to the hype.
the best highlight of all? traveling with sophia. she was so easy peasy to be with. in her, i found a perfect travel companion and a lifelong friend. so so grateful!
thank you sophia!
* here are the way too many photos on google.