Aurora lights at the Oreti Beach

The Oreti Beach was crowded with photographers last weekend while the southern lights were playing on the beautiful starry sky. Ever since we moved to the far south I was impatiently waiting to see this very special nature phenomenon. And I got it.

Oreti Beach is one of the best places to see southern lights and I’m lucky to be living just ten minutes from there so I made it on time to capture this moment!

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Weekend getaway: Lake Te Anau

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Situated on the west coast, within Fiordland National Park, Lake Te Anau is a part of the travel itinerary of every wanderer here in New Zealand. This small town, with a population of only 2000, is a starting point for three New Zealand Great Walks (Milford Track, Kepler Track and Routeburn Track) and it is the last town on the route to one of the most famous sights – Milford Sound.

Town centre is nice but there’s nothing much to do and that’s why this is the place where travellers come to spend more time in nature, walking and exploring. For us, perfect weekend getaway.

As I already told you, weather conditions on the South Island this summer weren’t great for camping but we decided to give it a go and it was awesome! Finally we had the chance to sleep under the stars…

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Lake Te Anau is the largest lake on the South Island and second largest by surface area in New Zealand (Lake Taupo is the largest).

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One more place to check out while you are in town is Ivon Wilson Park, land planted with native trees with a beautiful small lake in the centre. Perfect picnic spot!

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Lake Henry in Ivon Wilson Park

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Quick stop at the Lake Mistletoe

This is one of the reasons why I love to live in New Zealand. You don’t have to go far away to find gorgeous spots. They are always just around the corner…

 

Dawn on the far south

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This is the road from Invercargill to Queenstown. I drove down this road a few times before but never this early in the morning. The atmosphere is totally different. It’s so calm and peaceful… And look at that mist that makes it even more amazing. I think I should get up earlier more often and just drive around while everything is still asleep. That’s when I can have moments like this one only for myself…

One of a kind: Larnach Castle

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What a great weekend was that! Summer came pretty late this year to New Zealand so it was nice to finally feel those hot sun’s rays. From Invercargill, where we live at the moment, to Dunedin it takes around two and a half hours so it was a perfect spot for a weekend getaway. There are so many great things to do around this city, but first, in this post I will tell you a little bit about one unique place.

While traveling around Europe visiting castles is a part of every itinerary but here in New Zealand is a completely different story. There’s only one castle and it is located on Otago Peninsula. Larnach castle was built in 1871 and today it showcase the style of Victorian living.

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dsc05686Larnach Castle is privately owned by the Barker family who purchased it as their home in 1967. As it is open to the public conservation project is founded through admission fees. To visit the castle and garden the fee is 31NZD and for the walk around the garden only admission is 15NZD.

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For a coffee or something to eat there’s Ballroom Cafe set in the grounds of the Larnach Castle.

Castle is surrounded by 7 acres of gardens which are Margaret Barker’s personal green heaven. When she and her family moved in it was all overgrown and after a lot of effort this garden is now recognized as a Garden of International Significance.

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Sunday…

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What’s the best way to relax? I don’t know about you but for me the picnic and fishing in Colac Bay this weekend was a great way to end the week. Colac Bay is the small township 45 minutes from Invercargill. People are also coming here to take a surf lessons or to go diving. We saw a very nice camping ground so, as the summer is finally here, I think I found the perfect place to open the camping season!

A bit different New Zealand

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Time to go further South. As you know we didn’t really have the strict plan for this road trip and that’s what made it even more exciting. We were going day after day and just making stops wherever we wanted. That’s why these two cities somewhere in the middle of the South Island were big surprise for us.

After we left Christchurch the road took us straight to Timaru, city in the South Canterbury Region. Timaru was built of volcanic rock on the hills created from the lava flows from the Mt Horrible volcano which erupted thousands of years ago. Buildings in the Victorian style definitely give this city a special vibe and a lot of small cafes in the main street are just a perfect spot to enjoy the atmosphere… It was late afternoon when we got there so there’s wasn’t a lot people on the street, it looked a bit deserted but still charming.

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Before we started this road trip my decision was to drive only during the day because I didn’t want to miss anything on our way. So after Timaru we entered the Otago Region and decided to stay for the night in the next town called Oamaru. We didn’t know anything about this place and that’s why it was a huge surprise. Oamru is a different New Zealand. In the last year and a half we’ve been all around the country and this town is definitely special. While we were walking along the streets named by the rivers in England for a moment it felt like we were somewhere over there, somewhere in Europe.

Public buildings here are made of the local limestone known as Omaru stone. Most of them were built from 1865 – 1885. That carved stone in Neo Classical style looks really beautiful and unique. It was so nice to see how everyone here embraced the Victorian theme so all the galleries, arts and crafts shops and cafes are decorated in that style.

One more thing need to be mentiond about this amazing town. Except the awesome architecture that will take you back in time the reason why every year more than 75 000 tourists are coming here is a colony of the little blue penguins. These cute creatures live in the harbour, so when you will be passing by, stop to say hallo.

One more time I have proved to myself that traveling without the strict plan is the best way of traveling. It always brings unexpected moments, right? This time we accidentally met a bit different New Zealand, how great is that?

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