New Zealand is often referred to as ‘Aotearoa’ by the native Maoris, which loosely translates to the land of the Long White Cloud. A lot has already been written about the country with its stunning landscapes, snuggly sheep and adventure activities drawing hundreds of thousands tourists to New Zealand every year. You may however not know that NZ was the last large land mass to be inhabited by humans.
This makes New Zealand the youngest country on earth – a fact that is evident by its untouched beauty that travellers can witness in many different towns and cities. In fact, so pure is the air here that the 100% Pure New Zealand has been an award-winning marketing campaign that has been going on since over 10 years!
Most of you already know that I spent a good period of my youth – 9 years to be precise – in Auckland, New Zealand. In all that time however, I’ve never had the chance to visit South Island in depth. Sure, I’ve done my fair share of roadtrips, climbing hills, jumping off bridges and rafting down rivers around the country but I never had the opportunity to drive the entire West Coast of the South Island until recently.
In my most recent trip back home, I decided to correct this and promptly headed for a trip along the West Coast. Unlike other big countries over the world, New Zealand doesn’t have wide motorways. Rather, there are long two-lane highways across the length of the country that wrap around the hills and coastlines.
In the South Island, one the most travelled highways is State Highway 6 which is about 1,162 km long. This highway starts from the top of the island at Nelson and passes through most of the major attractions – Punakaiki, Hokitika (Jade Country), Franz and Fox Glaciers, Haast, Wanaka, Queenstown – and then ending at the southern tip in Invercargill.
While the landscape changes dramatically as you go up or down the highway, the one thing that remains constant is the number of campervans you see driving along or parked at the sides of the road. And, I really recommend that you traverse the South Island in your personal car rather than going on a tour. Tours simply don’t allow you the time you will want to stop off at the sides and experience all the pools, waterfalls and hiking trails that this length of the road has to offer.
Over the ten days we travelled State Highway 6 we stopped overnight at Queenstown, TeAnau, Wanaka, Franz Josef, Punakaiki an Nelson. And, in the next few weeks I hope to share a number of posts with you all about the food we ate and the sights we saw. Until then, I’ll bid you good bye with some of my favourite photos of the trip.
That is so beautiful!! So glad you started writing about your travels
Hi. question. Just booked solo trip to NZ in November. Finishing up Milford Track and renting sleeper/van to drive from Queenstown to Abel Tasman. Are there places for me just to pull over in the camper to sleep among Hwy 6, or reservations needed. Small vehicle just to sleep one. Not a large camper. Thx.
Perzen PATEL says
Hi Steve, congrats on booking your trip! You’re going to have an awesome time 🙂 There are a few places on Highway 6 where you can pull over and park overnight. However, these places don’t offer power points and not always will there be toilets etc so I would suggest stopping at a proper camper van park rather than at those stops so you have better access to facilities. I wouldn’t think reservations are needed but it could be worth it at major points like Christchurch etc (if you’re planning on stopping there) as it will be peak tourist season. Please please make sure you stop over at Fergs’ Burger in Queenstown and try their venison burger!
What time of year did you go on this trip?