This section of New Zealand is known to Kiwi Ex passengers as the ‘Deep South’. It is not a part of the ‘Core’ Kiwi Experience route but as I had the Whole Kit and Kaboodle pass which is their most comprehensive option, this section was included in my ticket.
I had heard mixed reviews about this leg of the tour, with the majority of people agreeing that it wasn’t great. I was eager to experience the trip myself and make up my own mind…unfortunately I would have to agree with the common consensus. Some parts of New Zealand which you get to see on this tour are breathtaking, namely Milford Sound, however the trip itself is not very well organised ( In my modest opinion).
The time spent on the Bus greatly outweighs the time spent actually experiencing the locations. This seems to be the case, especially if you do the trip on the minimum number of days recommended by Kiwi Ex. A few things that added to my lack of excitement towards this tour were that a) the bus showed up an hour late with no apology or explanation b) the bus was actually a small coach with very uncomfortable seats c) our tour guide on the first day made no effort to talk d) the weather was pretty bad the entire time. A bit of sun can make a massive difference so perhaps I may be singing a different tune right now had the sun been shining on those three days.
In any case, there is positive to be taken from any situation so I will try to share with you the good aspects of some of the great places I got to visit on this tour.
The drive down to Dunedin was long and boring….once we got there the only thing that was somewhat exciting was our little visit to the world’s steepest street. Yep. You know you are not having the greatest adventure when the highlight of the day is a road with an impressive gradient.
Nugget Point - A walk to the lighthouse and gorgeous views of the 'Nuggets' which are rocks protruding from the sea.
Cannibal Bay - We got to see some impressive Sea Lions sprawled on the beach. They are fairly big and appear to be innocuous, however, we were warned not to get too close to them as they can feel threatened and attack….as if on cue, one of the guys in our group was chased around by one of them after getting too close to take a selfie! Unfortunately due to a little accident involving my phone and a swimming pool I lost the pictures I had of the Sea Lions :(
Florence Hill - Nice lookout point with impressive views of New Zealand's coastline (for a change)
McLean Falls - This was my favourite activity of the day. When we first arrived no one on the bus was keen to go out into the pouring rain for yet another walk, but we got on with it…mainly because we were made to - and good thing we did. Our walk took us through an impressively luscious jungle and we got to climb on top of a waterfall!
Milford Sound was technically part of the Deep South Tour, however, it is a day trip from Queenstown which can be added to many of the Kiwi Experience tickets.
This was definitely the best part of the Deep South tour, and pictures or words alone can't do this place justice. For this reason, I think this location deserves it's own blog post..which you can view here
We ended the trip back in Queenstown, the last thing I wanted to do after a 12 hour day on the bus was carry my mammoth backpack up a hill, in the dark, looking for a Hostel… but of course that is exactly what life had in store for me! The next stop is Lake Tekapo. I am excited to get to see the turquoise waters of the lake that everyone seems to rave about and allegedly this is one of the best places to go stargazing.