Adventures with John & Nina – The Land of Kiwis (Part 2)
by Nina Sabin - Travel
In the last couple of blogs, we have been taking you on our repat – The Deep Down Under. In about four weeks, we covered all of Australia and in the last blog the North Island of New Zealand. In this blog we will journey through the South Island and finish our third repat from Saudi Arabia.
What a blessing it has been to be able to travel around the world not once a year, but usually three times a year.
For those of you who have been following us, know that through repats and Eid holidays we had about 60 days or more to travel during a year’s time; who could ask for a more amazing opportunity.
We took a ferry from the North Island to the South Island. These ferries were very comfortable, almost like you were on a mini cruise experience. It took about three hours and 20 minutes to get from the North to the South Island. It is known as one of the world’s best scenic cruises. The ride is about 83 kilometers. We traveled from Wellington in the North Island to Picton.
After arriving on the South Island, we rented a car and drove about 50 miles to Ashburton, just outside of Christchurch. The cost of hotels is more reasonable outside of Christchurch.
The next day we had an amazing scenic ride from Ashburton to Lake Tekapo then to Mount Cook National Park. We drove approximately 250 kilometers and It took about two and a half hours.
Mount Cook was by far one of our favorite places to visit in the South Island. The snow-capped mountains were breath-taking - even in April.
We stayed in a quaint chalet. It was a perfect size for six people and felt like a rustic cabin in the mountains. It even had a fireplace. The door mat was made out of smooth local stones. I don’t why, but that was very impressive to me and I still remember it 14 years later.
As you know, we love to hike. Any opportunity to go on a trail and our family will jump on it. There are wonderful trails to hike in Mount Cook. You get unbelievable views of the mountains, they are well marked and not too strenuous to climb. The trails take about 3 hours to hike and explore. At the top you reach Mount John Lookout. You should not miss seeing the views from there.
We stayed about two days in Mount Cook. I think we would have stayed longer but there is more of the awesome country to explore.
Mount Cook was unbelievable but then we came to Franz Joseph Glacier, it was even more beautiful. Everywhere we looked we could see the gorgeous scenery that God created. Once again we were finding trails to explore on the way to seeing the glacier. Our whole family liked walking on the snow and ice. Being from Florida, we do not often have the opportunity to touch the wonders of the ice and snow.
In our last blog, I mentioned we did not spot any kiwis. Along the drive from Franz Joseph Glacier my family spotted a kiwi on the road. Unfortunately, I missed seeing it, as on road trips I tend to fall asleep. Luckily, I still was able to see some at a museum when we were back in Christchurch. I would have been so sad to miss seeing a kiwi before leaving New Zealand.
When driving in a foreign country always remember to check the gas tank light. We didn’t realize how far the distance was between gas stations. At this time there were no GPS or Waze so we were relying on prayer and signs in hopes of finding a gas station. We were riding on empty and fumes for a while, but praise God we found a gas station before we had to push the car.
Our last stop before driving back to Christchurch was Hokitika in the Greymouth. What was cool here is we were next to a beach. Too cold to swim but neat to walk along the beach. We found those smooth rocks I mentioned before in Mount Cook in which the doormat was made from. I really wanted to make that doormat, but John persuaded me not to collect the rocks as we never would be able to bring back enough to make the mat.
Christchurch is where this trip ended. We said goodbye to my in-laws who were off to do some more exploring around the world. After six weeks of traveling, we were ready to get back to our life in Saudi and plan our next trip around the world.
Watch out for our next blog – Where is Laos? See you then!