NZ Bucket List
The Omarama Clay Cliffs are a unique collection of rock formations with a slot canyon to explore, about 25 minutes drive north of Omarama. I have driven past the sign about half a dozen times and after failing our last mission to check them out (kids all asleep in the car) we finally made it. And we were not disappointed. It would be a great stop on the way from Oamaru or Christchurch to Queenstown.
Lake Tekapo is actually quite a small town, but there are a few walks with some beautiful views that you should do while you are here. I think the most beautiful of Tekapo hikes is the Mt John track, so I will detail this fully and then give you some of other great alternatives to this Tekapo walk.
Stroll along the beach from Moeraki Boulders scenic reserve car park. These geological marvels are perfectly round balls of stone set in the sand on the beach. The rocks are believed to have been laid down somewhere between 65 and 13 millions years ago. Some say they have rolled down to the coast from the mountains over this period.
This 16km hike climbs along a well formed track through alpine meadows up to the tussock tops of the 1578m peak. This track is now a Great Walk and is thus very popular for a good reason. If you want the best insta shot we recommend start early before too many others arrive.
Take an easy stroll around the lake frontage in Rotorua to see some small pockets of volcanic activity and take in the lake views. You will walk past the main area that give Rotorua its smell the Sulphur pans and Sulphur Point at the edge of the lake. Circle back through the Government Gardens past Rachel spring and past the old Museum all worth a look. Loop through Kuirau Park also which has some great free yet active volcanic pools and steam vents.
The Hokitika Gorge Scenic Reserve is 33 km east of Hokitika. Leave Hokitika's main road by turning inland onto Stafford St which become Kaniere Rd, then Kaniere-Kowhitirangi Rd. South of Kokatahi the road turns sharp left, then sharp right. Turn left into Johnston Rd, right into Nielson Rd, and left into Whitcombe Valley Rd. This track has an awesome viewing platform just 4 minutes into the walk but make sure you do the entire 15 minute track.
The West Coast Wilderness Trail showcases some of the most outstanding scenery on the South Island’s West Coast with a diversity of landscapes second to none. Vast driftwood strewn beaches, virgin rainforests, snow-capped mountains, pristine rivers, lakes and wetlands, and scenic reserves home to special flora and fauna.
The Ben Lomond track is well sign posted from the Skyline Gondola. It will take you about 3 -4 hours to hike to the saddle and then another 1 or 2 hours (of steeper and rougher track) to the summit. The reward for 6-8 hours of walking (return) is a spectacular panoramic view of the Remarkables mountain range, Lake Wakatipu and the bustling town below. Please remember this is Alpine hiking and you should take warm weather clothes as the conditions can change quickly and thus turn extreme.