Best Travel Experiences in the South Island - Day 1

Susan (my American wife) and I are visiting New Zealand and today we're are off on a short vacation around New Zealand's beautiful South Island. Today we'll visit the Rakaia Gorge, Mt John Observatory, Lake Pukaki, some Hobbit sites and Aoraki/Mt Cook. We're looking forward to sharing the highlights of the next few days with you including photos that Susan will be taking as we travel.

The Rakaia Gorge

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We start at Christchurch, driving to Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. We decided to take a routing that took us off the beaten path to visit the beautiful Rakaia Gorge. A good decision and an opportunity for Susan's to take first shot of the day.

Lake Tekapo and Mt John University Observatory

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An hour later we reached Lake Tekapo from where we took a 10 minute drive to the summit of Mt John University Observatory, New Zealand's premier astronomical research observatory. The views from the summit were breathtaking and Susan soon had her camera out again. We wish we could have stay to view the brilliant Southern Hemisphere night skies, but we have to press on.

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Lake Pukaki, The Hobbit, The Alps2Ocean Cycle Route

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After Mt John it just got better and better. Long straight open roads led us to Lake Pukaki where Peter Jackson had created "Lake Town" for his movie "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug". We also noticed a stretch of the Alps2Ocean cycle trail that we featured in one of our recent blogs - Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.

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The first photo above was taken from the off-road viewing station at "Peter's Place" on the shores of Lake Pukaki- it's not too difficult to guess who "Peter" might be and to understand why he chose this wonderful location to create Lake Town.

Aoraki/Mt Cook

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Finally, we arrived at the Aoraki/Mt Cook Village nestled in a valley below the mountains. We checked into our overnight accommodation at Aoraki Court Motel and this photo was taken from our front window! A wonderful way to end our first day on the road.

Tomorrow we continue south to visit Bannockburn in the Central Otago wine producing region and we're looking forward to another day of vacation discoveries.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Nov 09, 2016