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 at Colac Bay

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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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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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It is time for the South!

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Slope Point – Southernmost Point of the South Island

Hey guys! I didn’t share a photo with you for a long time, right? The reason for that is that I was on my way to the southernmost point of New Zealand! Here is just one photo as a start of my southern adventure and in a few days I will tell you all about my road trip from Auckland to Invercargill. I will live here from now on and I have to tell you – I’m more than ready for exploring and for discovering all the secrets of the South Island!