Travelling New Zealand’s South Island 1 – Christchurch to Oamaru – by Rob Shackleford
Other Travelling NZ Blogs
|1 – Christchurch to Oamaru||2 – To Dunedin||3 – To Bluff||4 – To Milford Sound||5 – Queenstown and the Wild West Coast|
|6 – Arthur’s Pass to Lake Tekapo||7 – Mt Cook||8 – Kiwi Food||9 – Faces of NZ – 1||10 – Faces of NZ – 2|
Whether you are a neighbour, like we are in Australia, or visiting from even further away, New Zealand is a perfect destination to explore. Why? The variety of sights, from the plains and the snow-topped peaks to the rain-forests, lakes and quaint towns make New Zealand an easy trip, but one most will enjoy. Our favourite island is the South Island, where we visited recently and conducted out own exploration by car.
Yes, we bloody love New Zealand.
Perhaps the nicest set of experiences in New Zealand is related to the people. Kiwis are nice. I know, every nation has their scumbags, but in general our Kiwi experience has always been positive, where the people we have met have had beautiful manners and are most obliging.
So, what of exploring New Zealand’s South Island? Here are a few pointers.
We flew directly to Christchurch airport. It’s easy to arrange a variety of transport options or rental car before you get there. Naturally it is better to sort things out earlier.
A lot of visitors enjoy their Tiki-tour with a camper van – but in summer there are so many, the roads get clogged with so many of them. Just a consideration.
Because New Zealand is not a huge country – not like Australia or the US, you can easily drive to explore the island. Think of New Zealand as roughly the size of England, yet not so crowded. With a breath-taking view around almost every corner, the South Island New Zealand is similar in many ways to the UK because of the climate and the rain. But, oh so different.
Yes, New Zealand is certainly worth the visit.
Where to go?
In our tour of South Island New Zealand, we headed south and drove in a large circle that started and ended in Christchurch.
Sounds easy and it was delightful, so I’m going to do the easy thing and list our journey:
Christchurch to Timaru.
Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island and is pretty, though some of the damage inflicted by the terrible 2011 quakes are still evident. Perhaps the most telling is the beautiful old Christchurch Cathedral that was extensively damaged and is still under repair. Christchurch is a city, though a very small one. Excellent cafes and a smart little shopping precinct make Christchurch a nice stop on your journey. We didn’t stay long as we had too much of the country to see.
There is one thing worth saying, that New Zealand is sleepy. Compared to the hustle and bustle of most other nations, the small population and beautiful countryside have its effects. To me, New Zealand feels like stepping back in time, to a nicer, more relaxed time. Even the city streets aren’t frantic, so the population certainly isn’t.
We drove south to Timaru and stopped for lunch, which for me was probably one of the best pies I have ever had. Think pork-belly and apple, but the quality is superb and the prices surprisingly reasonable. I’m trying to be good, trying not to have too much meat and embrace a more vegetarian lifestyle, but I’m only human. So many yummy foods, excellent pies and bakery items make being good an extra challenge.
While we were there, a group of motorbike riders dressed like deep-sea divers to avoid the freezing rain stopped for a coffee. You have to be keen.
New Zealand food and coffee is a cut above most places. Read more about our take on New Zealand Food Here.
Oamaru is Deb’s birth town and is rather quaint, mainly because of the Victorian district. Now, here’s a mentality that has made this town a place to see. It’s all about rent. Many cities and towns have pleasant centres with historic buildings that are, essentially, boring. Shops such as the usual international brand shops are the only ones who can afford the rent. Not Oamaru. The Victorian precinct is full of twee little art shops, galleries, gift shops and even sweets shops that make the area surprisingly pleasant and different. On chatting with some of the shop-keepers, they advised that the local council keeps the rates low to allow them to survive.
As a result, in the absence of blatant greed, tourism and small businesses flourish.
What is especially cool is the tendency for locals to wear clothing to suit the precinct. It’s not unusual to see locals dressed in Victorian wear or, even better, steampunk gear to suit their development of a steampunk museum and festival. Oamaru is now the Steam Punk capital of New Zealand and we were fortunate to have visited at the beginning of their festival. Steampunk is a retrofuturistic subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. What that means is weird costumes and lots of fun.
As a coastal town, Oamaru also has a couple of penguin rookeries and an abandoned jetty crammed with seabirds. With lookouts and a great vibe, Oamaru is certainly worth an overnight stop at least.
Other Travelling with Traveller Inceptio Blogs
|India by Royal Enfields 1||Britain by House Sits||Scottish Food||Scottish Culture||Southern Scotland||Northern Wales|
|Faces of Scotland||House Sit Bath||Faces of England||House Sitting UK||Faces of Wales||Visit to London|
Rob and Deb live at Burleigh Heads, on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Deb is a yoga teacher and administrator par excellence.
If you have any questions regarding the contents of this blog, please email Rob via his email: [email protected] or Instagram @rob_shackleford_
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