Heading North…from the South

If you have been keeping up with my New Zealand posts, then you’ll have already read about our Christchurch and Queenstown adventures.  This post documents the journey we took from Queenstown to Franz Josef, Hokitika and then Nelson.

The drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef takes around 4.5 hours and we were not prepared for the dramatic changes in scenery!

Within 15 minutes of leaving Queenstown the sat nav was taking us up the Crowns Range Road which basically went up a mountain and back down the other side bringing us to Cardrona – a teeny tiny little gold-mining town with the oldest hotel in New Zealand – the Cardrona Hotel.  Only the outside looks old, the inside was more modern and welcoming.  We stopped at the hotel for a drink and amazingly the guy that served us lived about 30 minutes from our home in the UK!

Fan Tail Falls

We randomly stopped here on a whim – because who doesn’t love a waterfall!  What I found really creepy were the hundreds of stacked stones in front of the waterfall.  It looked like some sort of cult!

Franz Josef

The weather was not kind to us in Franz Josef.  You could barely make out the mountains, let alone the glacier.  It was such a shame!  The weather did clear for about 30 minutes and the outline of the mountain suddenly appeared.

Due to the weather our plans had to change slightly and we ended up going to the Glacier Hot Pools for a couple of hours.  We decided to go for the private pool which was totally secluded in the rain-forest – brilliant, relaxing even if it was raining.

We drove from Franz Josef to Hokitika which is only about 1.5 hours but it meant that the next leg of the journey would only be 4 hours up to Nelson.


Alas, the weather was STILL not on our side the day we arrived in Hokitika.  Luckily we found solace in the West Coast Wine Company for a couple of glasses of Pinot Gris!  Luckily, the day we were due to leave, the sun was shining and we were able to go for a walk along the sea front.

Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks

We had seen this mentioned in our Lonely Planet Guide but never thought our route would take us via here.  Luckily the sat nav gods were on our side!  These are called the pancake rocks because the rock is stacked…like pancakes!  Weirdly they’ve never really worked out why they developed like this (originally under the sea); there’s nowhere else in the world with rocks like this!


We decided to stop in Nelson as it allowed us to fly up to Auckland for the last part of our trip.  The town was small and there wasn’t a lot going on!  We found it strange that there were no cafes or bars along the beach front.  We did find a really great place for dinner however in The Boat Shed Cafe where we watched the sun go down with a few glasses of bubbles and some really delicious food.  They were incredibly accommodating to JB’s non-dairy needs too.

Next stop…Auckland!



  1. 01/02/2018 / 8:54 pm

    All your pictures look like something out of a dream. How amazing. Those stacked stones look creepy but also quite beautiful haha! xx

  2. 01/02/2018 / 9:27 pm

    Amazing places.. thanks for sharing ..
    Xoxo from Portugal


  3. Erin
    01/02/2018 / 10:29 pm

    AAAAAAh wow it all just looks so incedible! I had forgotten what it looks like to be warm outside lol

    Erin || MakeErinOver

  4. 02/02/2018 / 8:01 am

    Wow the scenery is amazing! Hikers often stack rocks or stones, I’ve seen it on many trails and it does look pretty creepy. It started as a way to mark trails, but now most people just do it for fun.

  5. Megan McCoig
    02/02/2018 / 9:10 am

    Such beautiful photos and the drive over the mountain sounds so incredible, I’d love todo that. I bet you had some amazing views xx

  6. 08/02/2018 / 10:42 am

    Oh wow I can’t get over how incredible these views must have been! xx

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