Exploring the South Island of New Zealand (Part 2)

Exploring the South Island of New Zealand (Part 2)

We’re so glad you’re joining us for another blog entry about exploring the South Island of New Zealand. If you have not already, make sure to check out Part 1 of this series. This post will cover the second part of our time on the South Island. It will begin with Milford Sound and end on a ferry to the North Island. We saw Amazing views, rode in a helicopter, walked on a glacier, and photographed “the most photographed tree in the world”!

Te Anau and Milford Sound

New Zealand travel Trip’ n’ Tramps: Milford Sound Coach, Walk and Cruise

We spent 2 nights in Te Anau at the Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park and it was Wonderful. After a great nights sleep, we had an early start to our day. We booked a small tour with Trip’ n’ Tramps: Milford Sound Coach, Cruise and Walk. And we were departing at 7:45 am. This was a great tour! There were only 14 of us plus our guide, Steven. And he was great. We enjoy adding small group tours to our travel plans. While we love driving, hiking and exploring- We also find pleasure in the shared experience of seeing sights in small groups. It gives you a chance to talk to other people and share ideas. It makes it a more community-based experience. Plus since Al does most of the driving, he could sit back and let someone else drive!

Let me tell you, the the drive to Milford Sound was gorgeous. We saw all kinds of mountain ranges and glaciers with small waterfalls. And we even got to see sea lions chilling on the rocks.  There was not a bad view no matter where you looked. Here we met the most Americans on the whole trip. Three other American couples took this tour and then we ran into a few more on the Cruise in Milford Sound. Funny enough, one couple was from Philadelphia and knew friends of ours. Small world, right! Otherwise, we only met a few other Americans the whole trip.

South Island of New Zealand Milford Sound New Zealand cruise travel tips

Milford Sound’s so beautiful. And the boat wasn’t very crowded at all. Steven told us that we visited at the perfect time. First of all, we were coming in earlier than those who ride in the big tour buses from Christchurch. And given the time of year, it just isn’t as crowded. That was really what we experienced everywhere we went in New Zealand. (Except Hobbiton lol!!) So April is the perfect time for New Zealand travel folks!

Milford Sound cruise photography New Zealand South island travel blog


sea lion sights on Milford Sounds cruise New Zealand attractions tours

As our tour continued we had a couple options of what the to do next. Al and I had the opportunity to film from a helicopter ride with Milford Sound Helicopters over the glaciers and then walking on it. And we couldn’t resist! Seriously, the best experience ever. I can’t even express how beautiful it was. The glacier lakes were the most incredible colors ranging from blue to greenish. I could’ve spent all day there.  And then we got to walk on a glacier too-  super cool. You may have read our Iceland blog post about the snow mobile ride we did. For that there was total white out conditions and we couldn’t see anything. Here, we had the most incredible blue sky with fantastic sunbursts. Total opposite experiences!

Milford Sounds helicopters glacier exploring New Zealand things to do

Milford Sounds helicopters glacier exploring New Zealand things to do

Photography from a helicopter tours in New Zealand South Island travel blog

Tours in New Zealnd helicopter ride glaciers Milford Sounds

Photos on a glacier New Zealand travel blog things to see when traveling

After the helicopter ride, we met up with the rest of our tour and did a small walk in the rain forest areas. When we got back to the Holiday Park we had booked a private hot tub with a view of the lake. We finished up cooking in the community kitchen and relaxed. It was a Perfect day!

New Zealand travel photography landscape photographer Flat World Media Productions

South Island of New Zealand travel photography landscape photographer Flat World Media Productions

New Zealand travel photography landscape photographer Flat World Media Productions


We drove 3 ½ hours to our next destination, Wanaka. Wanaka is known for a single tree that appears to be growing out of the water. It Is considered the “most photographed tree in the world”. Of course, when we were there the tides were out and there was no water surrounding the tree. It was still really beautiful. A anyone who knows my style knows I love a great reflection. I was pretty happy to concentrate on getting imagery that is rarely seen from that perspective. In Wanaka, we stay at the Lake Outlet Holiday Park. This is probably my favorite Holiday Park. It sat on this awesome lake where we got up the next morning and watched the sunrise.

There were a lot of great areas to hike around the lake too. After about two hours, we went into town to eat at Francesca’s. This Italian Kitchen was recommended to us all along the way. We’re glad we followed the advice of getting reservation online the day before because the place was packed. If we didn’t have a reservation we wouldn’t get a table. We had fantastic homemade ricotta and bread. I had a wood fired pizza and Al had a pasta dish with duck in it. Yum! And we had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day!

Wanaka New Zealand travel photography things to do in NZ

Manaka New Zealand the most photographed tree in the world in spring

The most photographed tree in the world refections New Zealand travel photography

Landscape photography New Zealand south island travel blog

Sunrise in Wanaka Nea Zealand photography travel photographer

Sunrise in Wanaka Nea Zealand photography travel photographer

Leaving Wanaka we headed to Lake Matheson and Franz Josef Glacier. We took a leisurely drive getting there and enjoying the views and doing a couple small hikes. Lake Matheson is AMAZING! We walked through the rain forest and stopped at various spots to get glimpses of the lake and it fantastic reflections. And if you know anything about me- you KNOW how I love reflections, especially in nature.

We just sat and enjoyed this incredible view, feeling so blessed. The trees were just starting to turn a bit for Fall (they don’t get a lot of leaf changes) and it was just so pretty. The trail was basically empty, we ran into maybe 3 other couples. We just couldn’t believe how uncrowded everything was.  It was just a 45-minute drive to our holiday park in Franz Josef, Rainforest Retreat. And what an awesome holiday park! We got some groceries to cook in the community kitchen, did laundry, and took long hot showers! It was the perfect spot for the night.

rain forest at Lake Matheson New Zealand adventure

Reflections in nature New Zealand Lake Matheson Franz Josef Glacier

Reflections in nature New Zealand Lake Matheson Franz Josef Glacier

Reflections in nature New Zealand Lake Matheson Franz Josef Glacier

We got up early the next morning because we had a 6-hour drive to the Nelson Lakes, where we would spend the night. From there we were catching the ferry in Picton to the North Island. The road was super curvy and had lots of road construction so it was pretty slow going in some spots. We took time to explore the spectacular coastline in a few spots. And we stopped at Punakaiki and did the path around the famous Pancake Rocks and the Blowholes. Though we weren’t there at the right time to catch the huge spray. But that’s ok, we would have gotten all our equipment wet!

The rocks beating against the Tasman Sea was incredible. We stopped for some time in Hokitika, walked the beach and picked up stones. We also found the perfect bracelets for our upcoming Vow renewal. The whole trip, we were hunting for the right thing. And we found the right ones in an artist collective space. When we do our renewal in June, we will exchange these to wear. We don’t always wear our wedding rings because our fingers swell when we shoot. So we have worn different matching bracelets over the years. We also have bought special ones one on previous trips in South Africa and China.

Nelson Lake Nelson City New Zealand travel photography tourism blog New Zealand coastline photography travel photographer Flat World media Productions Punakaiki New Zealand Pankcake rocks travel photography

This was really the only day it was really cloudy and raining on and off. Because of the rain, slow roads, and construction it was already dark when we pulled into our camp spot at Lake Rotoiti. However we still woke up early to make sure to get in a great hike around the lake. It was so peaceful and blue! And there were eels in the water by the dock. After our hike and having a great breakfast, we hit the road for Picton where we were catching the InterIslander ferry across to Wellington.

Nelson New Zealand Lake Rotoiti travel photography Flat World Media Productions

macro photography New Zealand landscape photographer travel blog

We should have known what “due to rough weather” meant when the ferry would be leaving an hour later. We took this time and walked around Picton, a small coastal town. When it was time, we drove the camper van onto the ferry and headed to the top deck to enjoy the views. They informed us at some point this deck would be closed as we were expecting 7 meter waves! We took our Dramamine before we boarded so we felt we would be ok. The view was GORGOUS! The 3 hour journey across Cook Strait that connects New Zealand’s North and South Island is truly astounding. This is one of the most scenic in the world they say. For a third of the crossing you’re traveling through the incredible Marlboro Sound. But once we hit the open water it was a WHOLE other story!!

We had moved inside by this point but made the mistake of sitting in the front thinking we could look out. The boat went airborne several times due to the waves. And this is a BIG BOAT!!!! Well that was all our stomachs needed- nope!! Enough!! Al found it useful to keep walking around the boat, not stopping too long in one place. I on the other hand, couldn’t find a place that didn’t make me sick. And I grew up on boats but this was crazy. I eventually joined a small group of others not feeling well on the floor in the middle of the boat. Not the most attractive site but definitely the best for my stomach. Another passenger took pity on me and brought me a wet paper towel and some ice chips. Needless to say I was more than ready to get off that boat!

The other unfortunate part of the boat being so late and then not feeling so great was it was already really dark when we got into Wellington. We still needed to find our site so we didn’t get to go explore the town and all. I was very disappointed as I was looking forward do it because I heard it had some unique aspects. But nonetheless we checked in to the Nelson holiday park, made some dinner and went to sleep.

take the InterIslander south Island North Island New Zealand travel

views of Cook Straight ferry travel New Zealand North South Island

Exploring the South Island of New Zealand

Stay tuned for our Adventures on the North Island of New Zealand where we will explore glow worm caves and visited Hobbiton!

Comments 13

  1. Lauren Priori

    Ooooh you’re giving me the travel bug! These pics of your adventures exploring the South island of New Zealand make me want to take a trip right this second!

    17 May, 2017
  2. Amy Elizabeth

    Bookmarking Wanaka to add to my New Zealand travel list! So happy you documented your journeys to help other travelers decide which parts of the country to see. Keep inspiring me for my dream New Zealand trip!

    17 May, 2017
    • Cathie Berry-Green

      oh you totally have to go. and the holiday park there is fantastic!! i will be making a post about the North Island soon

      17 May, 2017
  3. Kelly L

    These pictures from your New Zealand trip are stunning. It makes me very jealous of your trip.

    17 May, 2017
    • Cathie Berry-Green

      Thanks! it was so magical!

      22 May, 2017
  4. Paul J. Spetrini

    Cathie, I’m a HUGE Lord of the Rings fan so New Zealand has always been a place on the top of my bucket list to travel and your photos in this blog on the South Island sure make me want to get on a plane and go.

    Love the shots of that tree reflecting in the way and the dock images really stood out. Such nice work. Hope you continue this series!

    18 May, 2017
    • Cathie Berry-Green

      Thanks! It is a must see place! and stay tuned for our post on the North Island. The highlight was Hobbitton!! so cool!!

      22 May, 2017
  5. Kristen Jarrett

    AMazing photos!! I’d love to go to New Zealand, and your blog just makes me wish it even more. Even on a rainy day it looks fantastic!

    18 May, 2017
    • Cathie Berry-Green

      Thanks! Stay tuned for our post about the North Island coming soon!

      22 May, 2017
  6. Ashlee

    Adding New Zealand to my bucket list. Your adventures are always so much fun to read about!

    22 May, 2017
    • Cathie Berry-Green

      Thanks! and it is a must go to place for sure!!

      22 May, 2017
  7. Parker Radbourne

    Gorgeous landscape portraiture (portraits of the landscape?)! Your travel diary is giving me serious New Zealand wanderlust!!!

    23 May, 2017
  8. Lyn

    Such beautiful photos. NZ is a photographers paradise. You have captured its beauty perfectly, great work.

    31 May, 2017