South Island Tour in a Campervan, New Zealand

June 3, 2020 – Jun 20, 2020

As we got out of the lockdown back in May of 2020, we were thinking that we wouldn’t be in New Zealand for much longer. It looked like that the covid crisis was not going to end any time soon and we immediately shifted to “savings mode”. Our thought was that whatever money we had left in our travel budget, now needed to last us at least twice as long as originally planned. We were thinking that we would be best off to go to Europe as soon as it was possible (July 2020) and spend the remainder of our travel time (till Sept 2020) in Serbia with family.

However, even though we were in ‘savings mode’, I thought that we shouldn’t leave New Zealand without seeing more of it. Before the lockdown, we were in New Zealand for only 12 days, exploring the North Island from Auckland to Wellington and then crossing over the South Island to Christchurch. My thinking was that if we were ever to see more of New Zealand, this was the best time to do it. Pedja and I are usually on the same page when it comes to family planning and finances but this was one occasion where our opinions differed. He did not feel comfortable with spending anything more than we had to, while I was of the opinion that we needed to take a leap of faith and not ‘save a penny to lose a nickel” (save a bit now but then have to spend way more in the future to come back to New Zealand to see it more). I’m grateful that Pedja let me talk him into renting a motor home (camper) to explore the South Island for almost 3 weeks.

During that time, we covered over 1300 miles/2100 kilometers and did about 37 miles/60 kilometers worth of hikes, under all sorts of weather conditions. Since we did this in June, that’s almost considered wintertime for New Zealand. I was worried that we’re going to be cold in a motorhome but that was definitely not the case. We’ve never vacationed in a camper and that was an experience in itself. It was comfortable enough, even though if you asked our teenage girl, she would say that she was trapped in small quarters with 2 rabid brothers and 2 crazy parents. Like anything else, all of us will have our unique recollections of this special road trip. Both Pedja and I remember it fondly.

This was probably the most affordable time to travel around New Zealand. All tourist activities were offered at great discounts and we took full advantage of all sorts of ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ bucket list items. Petra did a bungee jump at the original bungee jumping location, the “World Home of Bungee”. Bungee jumping started in Queenstown in 1988 by AJ Hackett, right at this location. The bridge she jumped off is 141 feet high. She was braver and more adventurous than either of her parents.

My own adventure was taking a small airplane ride from Queenstown over to Milford Sound. The views (and the adrenaline rush from being in such a small airplane so close to the mountains) were incredible.

Both Petra and Maksim did iFly experiences in Queenstown. Maki seems to make friends wherever he goes and he connected with kids at several of our campgrounds as well as some young men in their 20s that included him in their footbag game.

Nikola insisted on going to the birdlife park in Queenstown to see Kiwi birds. Since Kiwi birds are nocturnal animals, the exhibit was dark with black lights, Nikola’s vision is not good so he wasn’t actually able to see them. We ended up getting hi a Kiwi bird plush toy as one of his presents for Brother’s Day (that we usually celebrate a week before Father’s Day). We celebrated both Brother’s Day and Father’s Day while on this trip. Maki got his first skateboard as a Brother’s Day present.

Another highlight of this trip was that Nikola and I went on a climbing adventure in Wanaka and he got to handle his own safety equipment, all by himself. He was quite proud of that accomplishment.

We did plenty of hiking and truly loved every single place we visited. Now that we have been in New Zealand for so long, I would be up for repeating this route once again. There are way too many beautiful places in this beautiful country. Thinking back to our original timing to be in New Zealand for only 3.5 weeks (with only 10 days to see as much of the South Island as we could), I can see how limited our experience would have been if it all went according to plan. We are all beyond grateful that our trip around the world ended up as two distinct adventures: 1 year of fast travel from Seattle around the globe to New Zealand and then 1 year (and a half probably) of truly living in New Zealand, adopting this gorgeous country as (one of) our own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s