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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Fascinating Redwoods

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Amazing place just five minutes from downtown Rotorua is Whakarewarewa Forest known by the locals as Redwoods. People come here to ride a mountain bike, enjoy horse riding and a walk along great walking tracks. For me the most fascinating thing was Treewalk. It consists of 23 suspension bridges between 22 Californian coastal redwoods. The view of 100 years old dense native bush, from 12 meters above the ground, is stunning!

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Meeting of the seas

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This is definitely one more special place in New Zealand. Cape Reinga is the spot where two seas clash. It is the meeting point of Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean. Really amazing. You can see how unsettled the water is, it looks like a race. If you are watching from atop the view is absolutely perfect…

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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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Further South: Nelson & Christchurch

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As soon as we left the ferry in Picton I realized that the stories were truth. The rain was behind us because this is the sunniest region, nature is different, there’s no so many cars as up North, villages are really far away from each other and the towns we visited are smaller.

On the way to Nelson we passed through the part of the Marlborough Region which is the largest wine growing region here in New Zealand. We tried a great number of wines produced here so it was nice to see all those vineyards which are just coming one after another making this ride full of great sceneries. I can imagine how beautiful it is during the season of grapes picking…

Nelson was the place for our first night here on the South Island. It’s nice small town on the eastern shores of the Tasman Bay. It attracts visitors with its local arts and crafts scene. This is mostly the summer destination and that’s why at this time of the year the streets were a bit deserted. We found beautiful sandy Tahunanui beach as the perfect spot for an early breakfast before we continue our trip all the way to Christchurch.

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Christchurch. I was really looking forward to visiting this city but I didn’t really know what to expect. What you can see as soon as you get there is that 22nd of February 2011 was the day which changed everything. Traces of the devastating earthquake are everywhere. While you are walking around all you can hear is the sound of the heavy machinery and all you can see are the workers in reflective vests who are helping to raise the city back on its feet. You can also see that people are trying to make everything as it was before and to live the life as they did before. One of the first steps after the catastrophe was to bring the life back in the centre of the city by opening Re:START container mall. Today more than 50 business are operating there and it’s a very popular spot among the tourists and residents.

I was able to imagine how beautiful this city was before 2011. Definitely many years will pass until they rebuild it, but when they do it, I’m sure that Christchurch will again charm the travellers from all over the world…

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Across the Cook Strait

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Decision to move on the south of the south came out of nowhere. Was it a good decision? I’m sure it was! I really liked Auckland but in the past few weeks we were thinking about moving to the less crowded place, with no traffic jams and with a little bit less rain so getting the job on the other side of the country came as a good push to leave Auckland sooner. During the past year we travelled almost all around the North Island so moving to the south was an obvious step and here we are, in Invercargill. Our new address is in one of the southernmost cities in the world.

It is great to be able to move quickly, believe me, not having a lot of luggage is perfect! Everything fitted in our car and we were ready for the ten days trip and more than 1600 kilometres which led us all the way to the south – New Plymouth, Levin, Whanganui, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, Invercargill!

Our first stop was New Plymouth. We were there already but, because of the weather, we weren’t able to see Mount Taranaki so we went there again. And what happened? The weather was the same. Rain didn’t stop for a second and the fog was so thick. It gave us the reason to come back again, maybe third time will be the lucky one and we will have the chance to visit Egmont National Park during the nice sunny day. My friends were there last weekend and they sent me the photo of the mountain, so beautiful, right?

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Mt Taranaki

Two hours later we arrived in Whanganui, home of Whanganui River, the longest navigable waterway in New Zealand. This river runs all the way from Mt Tongariro to the sea…

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Wonderful scenery was following us while we were driving along the Kapiti Coast. Beaches with no end were on our way all the time…

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Next stop, Wellington. Still my favourite city here in New Zealand. I don’t really know why I like this city so much. It is a nice place to be but there’s a lot nice places around here so that’s probably not the reason. You know how in some places you just feel right? That’s how I feel when I’m in Wellington.

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Wellington Cable Car

Early morning was the time to get on the ferry to Picton. I was so excited about this three hours long ride across the Cook Strait. Not only because I like sailing and being on the sea but because I’ll will finally reach the South Island and I will finally see on my own is there a truth in the stories about how different this place is if you compare it with the North of the country.

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