We drove a camper van around the South Island of New Zealand for a glorious two weeks. New Zealand is a landscape photographers dream! A top five bucket list destination for any outdoor enthusiast. Keep reading to find out what we did and any tips n tricks you can pick up for your next adventure. 
Jagged glaciers reaching up into bright blue skies. Endless open roads winding around dramatic mountain passes. Icy blue lakes stretching as far as your eyes can see. These are just some of the spectacular sights that await you on New Zealand’s South Island, a place so beautiful that it almost defies description. 
Hooker Valley track, Mt. Cook  / Lake Matheson / Lake Tekapo.
The drive through Mt Cook National Park is a memory I will never forget. Probably my favourite of the whole trip. The Hooker Valley Track is the perfect balance between being easily-reachable but also incredibly beautiful. This 10km return track takes you over three swing bridges and offers stunning views of Mount Cook/Aoraki at the end.
Highly reflective and unbelievably still, Lake Matheson feels like a painting. It's an easy 1.5 hour peaceful stroll around the lake with views of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman, New Zealand's highest peaks. 
Lake Tekapo has a stunning panorama of Southern Alps surrounding it. The mountainous drama offers a stunning back drop to shoot. This photograph was taken from a stroll around the lake, but face on, Lake Tekapo is a strong turquoise colour. The lake gets its intense milky-turquoise colour from the fine rock-flour, ground by glaciers, which is suspended in the water. We missed the Lupin bloom, be aware you won't see swarm of purple flowers in winder. They bloom in mid November. 

Arrowtown was once a gold rush town. The town has done a wonderful job preserving the history of the early settlement, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. It's nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. This charming town is another cute spot to stop. 
The Wanaka Tree. 
A lone, isolated tree situated in Lake Wanaka, is Instagram famous and New Zealand's most photographed tree. It stands in-front of an ever changing, dramatic scene. You won't be able to resist taking your own shot to add to it's hashtag. 
Wanaka is a cute little town and most famous for Roys Peak hike. It's a decent hike, 16kms and I suggest going early to avoid the rush. Find out more about it here
Lake Pukaki.
By the time you get to Lake Pukaki you will realise New Zealand is just filled with gorgeous lakes and mountains. Another great stop to soak in the views and snap a few more photographs. Take a break here, enjoy the serenity.  ​​​​​​​The gorgeous water will invite you in no matter the temperature.

Milford Sound in the Fjordland National park is listed the eighth natural wonder of the world and without a doubt, worth the super long drive to get there. Prepare to be blown away by its beauty. 
Milford Sound is one of the wettest places in the world receiving on average 182 days a year so make sure you bring a jacket! 
We booked last minute and got a cruise for 11am. It rained our whole drive there, whilst we waited to board our cruise and as we were pulling out into the bay. But shortly after, the sun came out for our whole trip. It made for a magical ride, sunshine glistened through all the waterfalls and the sunshine kept us warm while on deck. As we walked back to the carpark to our van, it clouded over and rained again. I'll never stop feeling lucky for our bout of good weather. 
Make sure you stop in Te Anau to visit the glow worm caves! 
We booked all with Jucy Cruise
There are lots of stops a long the way to experience Fjordland National park as well. Prepare for a full day of stopping!

The Franz Josef Glacier is located on the west coast of the south island and it is an incredible sight to see. 
You can view Franz Josef Glacier from a distance, but honestly, the best way to visit is to go on a guided tour to get up close  and personal with the glacier. It includes a trip in a helicopter as this is the only way to get onto the Glacier! A two hour hike will show you many impressive, icy vistas backed by striking mountains. 
We booked our Helier Hike with Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Which included a 1 hour soak in a private hot pool, a perfect way to end a day hiking. 
Tucked away behind some farmland, Hokitika Gorge is a slice of glacial turquoise paradise.​​​​​​​ The track is a 1.5km round trip, leading you through beautiful forest landscape & over two hanging foot bridges that cross over the crystal clear waters of the Makarora River. If you are brave enough, pack your bathers and take a dip in the icy emerald river for a once in a lifetime experience
Beware of the sandflies! Lather on your bug repellent. 
As for our camper van experience, we booked ours through Drive Now and got a van with Britz. It was a four person van with kitchen but no shower or toilet, which wasn't an issue for us. We were so lucky to get the van for an amazing $545nz! 
We went in mid August and for that price, its totally worth it being a tad bit colder! In the summer months van rentals cost up in thousands. Plus those snow covered mountains will make up for it. 
I highly recommend this be your way of travel and seeing what this amazing island has to offer. You will be able to immerse yourself in nature and feel the freedom it will offer your road trip. 
We opted to free camp a lot of trip, mostly so we could disconnect and unwind. Find all the information you need to know before doing so here. If you need a bit of luxury and to charge up all your devices, use the CamperMate app to find the perfect spot, including free camp spots. Download here.
Something else to keep in mind is you will be charged diesel tax per 100kms traveled when you return your camper van! ​​​​​​​

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