South Island party!

Fair warning: this post is long. It covers Boxing Day through the 10th of January. Good luck.

The hostel I stayed at in Picton on Christmas night was big on towel sculptures.

Boxing Day started with this sign. The plan was to hitchhike to Nelson. So I started walking with my thumb out.

After an early success in getting to Blenheim I found myself in the middle of wine country.

A few kilometers later I was picked up by a very nice family who said they could take my to Nelson, we would just have to stop for lunch first.

After a nice lunch we made it to Nelson. My friend Jay came and gave me a lift out to Motueka, which is a little way outside of Nelson. It looks about like this.

Jay showing off his impressive selfie taking ability.

Big beach outside of Motuika.

After about a day of relaxing on the beach it was time to proceed south again. Since the fortunes were ever in my favor I was able to catch a ride with Kirk (from iRide) and his friend Dylan south to Hokitika and then on to Wanaka. This would be a good chance to cover some distance and see the west coast of the South Island.

There are lots of mountains, rivers, glaciers, and other stuff like that.

Some grass.

More beach.

And lots of sun.

And since I couldn't resist: tourists taking pictures with their iPads.

Saw this a little outside of Wanaka. Not sure who Eric Corff is, but I'm still partial to the sticker.

On the shore of Lake Wanaka.

 

This area of the South Island is know for excellent hiking, so we had to get outside at least a little. New Year's Eve Gavin and I hiked up a hill a bit outside of town to get a better look at things.

A higher view of the lake.

The view from the top. More of the valley, with more lakes in the background.

Despite what it looks like Gavin is not taking sneaky pictures of lions. There are relatively few lions here it seems.

After a pretty long hike, we celebrated New Years right. Full meal including several veggies.

 

At the start of 2014 I wasn't exactly sure how to spend my last week of vacation. One of the people I met along the way mentioned heading out to Milford Sound, part of the fiordland of southwest New Zealand. So after a quick night in Queenstown I made my way to Milford. Which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.

It more or less looks like this. There are 4 permanent waterfalls along the sound.

They are quite large.

However on rainy days, including when I was there, about 1000 more spring up.

They are everywhere.

Everywhere!

At the end of the sound you get to the Tasman Sea (aka the ocean) and I was assured that Australia was only about 1800km out there. I've approximated it's location above.

Despite the cold and wet it was still all smiles amongst the tourists on the boat.

Afterwards I returned to Queenstown for a day of hiking another big hill. Rain would not stop me.

I had always thought the movie " a river runs through it" was about fishing. Apparently it was about this trail I was walking up.

Real wet.

 

And then it started snowing towards the top.

This hike was billed as "difficult but worth it for the views at the top". This was totally accurate. The view I got if the inside of that cloud was priceless.

Fortunatley the view a little farther down also included some more lake.

 

As I write this I'm in Christchurch the day before my flight back to Wellington.

The earthquake damage from 2010 and 2011 is still very much visible, but it seems like things are improving. Even if the construction is far from complete.

All of which can be viewed comfortably from atop your Segway.

Congrats if you've made it this far. I guess almost three weeks of vacation leads to a rather long post.