I had tears of joy and tears of sorrow when I took a 12-day South Island New Zealand road trip with my husband and two kids last winter (summer in New Zealand).
The tears of joy came when I saw the wineries of Marlborough Sounds, sipped the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world, sampled the craft beers of Nelson and saw the natural beauty of the Middle-earth. It was a joy to see books left in an unlocked box outside a home for a neighborhood book exchange on a street in Christchurch just like it was 24 years ago.
Let these photos show you things that will bring you joy in South Island:
Seeing Franz Josef Glacier after 24 years away broke my heart. The Franz Josef Glacier I knew was larger and fuller. The ice valleys have retreated and are now just beds of rocks. The Southern Alps has lost a third of its ice and snow over the last four decades according to The Guardian. Imagine 34% of the ice and snow were gone in the last 40 years.
Another heartbreaking place was Christchurch. The iconic Christ Church Cathedral is still in ruins. Restoration of the cathedral is still in a legal deadlock. The Christchurch I knew was almost like a ghost town on a late Tuesday afternoon.
Experiencing first hand the effects of the 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch made me think about our own experience the morning before our departure from Greymouth to Christchurch. We were scheduled to board the Tranz Alpine Kiwi Rail Scenic Journey on January 6, 2015.
On the morning of our departure at about 6:45 am we were awaken by several earthquakes. The earthquakes were recorded near Arthur's Pass, the exact place where the Tranz Alpine would cross. I checked my phone to get the latest news about the quake. GeoNet classified the quake as "severe" at 6.4 magnitude and some "weak" quakes at 4.2 magnitude.
Kiwi Rail cancelled the trip and left us with two options: take the bus or get your money back. The Tranz Alpine was the highlight of the South Island tour. Thank God no one was injured and there were no major damages in the area. I had sweaty palms when I traveled on a bus from Greymouth to Christchurch stopping briefly in Arthur's Pass. The route was still beautiful even on a bus.
Read more about our road trip for 12 days in South Island in our upcoming eBook "How to Travel on a Budget in South Island New Zealand" where we spent $2,706.69 for a family of four. Get it in Amazon on Thanksgiving Holidays.