Some of my favourite moments from our recent trip to NZ’s South Island:

1. Queenstown would not be my usual favourite holiday spot – it’s so touristy, and my preferred kind of travel is out of tourist season. Hanging out with crowds of other tourists is not my idea of a good time. But Queenstown makes up for its touristy feel by being jaw droppingly gorgeous – I loved picking our way along the snow covered ground along the shore of the lake at the end of the day, and sitting in our apartment drinking a glass of cheap red, watching the changing light over the lake and surrounding mountains.

2. The inland lakes, like Lake Tekapo, which are such a vivid turquoise blue that they don’t look real – particularly after it snowed, the lake glowed against the surrounding whiteness. We went snow tubing when we were there, hurling ourselves down a hill in inflatable tubes while looking out on the spectacular vista of the lake.

3. Tuatara are the only living members of the order Sphenodonti and have a variety of sci-fi-esque features like a photo receptive “third eye” on top of their head. And they probably live for hundreds of years. Seeing them moving around at the bird park (very very slowly, as befits such a long lived creature) was pretty incredible.

4. I wanted to stop every 5 steps or so as we walked around the Kaikoura Peninsula and take a photograph of the slightly different angle of the views we saw in every direction. Looking down to the ocean, we could see a small seal colony basking in the sun at the foot of the cliffs – looking behind us, we saw snow capped mountains across the horizon, past a green field of grazing cattle, and stepped hills that were once the site of fortified pa. No other people in sight, and we sat for a while on the clifftop watching a seal swimming and listening to the sound of the waves.

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