New Zealand, South Island 38

Five hidden gems in South Island, New Zealand

The best part of being on a campervan road trip is the discovery of new gems of places that we had never even heard of! We just finished our third campervan trip around New Zealand and this time was extra special as we got to do it with our very good friends and their 10 month old baby visiting us from Thailand 🙂

Fellowship of the campervan journey

Fellowship of the epic campervan trip

We travelled from Auckland down to Wellington in the North Island, stopping at our old favourite spot Kerosene Creek, Rotorua and Lake Taupo. From Wellington, we took a day trip to Kapiti Island before taking the ferry across to South Island. Ashique saw dolphins during the cook straits crossing!

In the South Island, we explored the Nelson and Marlborough region followed by Kaikoura and then made our way down to Christchurch where we dropped the campervan off and flew back to Auckland. It was a brilliant 10 days of sunshine, beaches, turquoise waters, mountains, bushwalks, waterfalls, feasting and ending 2015 and starting 2016 on such a positive travel high 🙂

Whilst I sift through the hundreds of pictures and ponder on the many posts I plan to write about our epic journey, here are five of the best non planned highlights of the South Island part of our trip:

  1. Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve


After we arrived in South Island, the plan was to slowly make our way to Abel Tasman National Park, over two days. We spent the first night in Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds – the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the world. The next day we set off for Abel Tasman and along the way we discovered our new favourite swimming hole in New Zealand.  We had no plans for any activity that day other than to get to golden bay and perhaps do some wine tasting…and then we passed this bridge over a river…and we just had to jump in 🙂 The water was absolutely gorgeous, just the right temperature, crystal clear and the colours, wow! Ashique and the kids had so much fun jumping in from the high rocks. Pelorus Bridge was one of the best experiences of this trip so far. There is also a bushwalk one can do around the scenic reserve but we were having too much fun in the water.

2. Wild Earth Cafe

We went wine tasting after swimming at Pelorus bridge and during the winetasting the person guiding us through the tasting gave us some recommendations for when were in Abel Tasman. Most of it was around the famous coastal walk and kayaking in the area. He also mentioned about this place where one can go salmon fishing and next to it was a cafe which had some petting animals. We thought that sounds good as Ashique and the kids could do some fishing and we can introduce our 10 month old guest to farm animals. He lives in the concrete jungle of Bangkok and hasn’t seen many animals yet. Little did we know what a gem of a place Wild Earth actually was!20151229_151007

Wild Earth is located on the banks of the Anatoki River and surrounded by native bush, and it was so much more than a cafe! In their own words – “Wild Earth is a magical world where friendly animals, nature, history, and art combine”  Run by this inspiring family who have implemented the principals of permaculture at their farm, the place was just the perfect environment to have a fun-filled relaxing family afternoon, and we did just that. From spinning poi, our old favourite pastime, hula hoops, rope swings, Tibetan bells, abundance of green space, amazing food and wine, and lots of happy and healthy farm animals to delight the kids and grownups alike.

3. Nelson Lake National Park

After we had spent a wonderful two days in Abel Tasman, we were heading to Kaikoura, but it was a five hour drive so we wanted to stop the night somewhere in between to break up the journey. The Nelson Lake National Park just happened to be that midpoint and once again we were not expecting to find anything so wonderful as we did.

Lake Rotoiti

I think this part of South Island is underrated and it’s not surprising as Nelson Lakes are completely overshadowed by Abel Tasman on the top and the stunning West coast on the left, both of which are amazing. We stayed at a lovely free site by and the next day we spent the morning enjoying coffee and swimming in the clear cold waters of lake Rotoiti.  We had stopped here the night before and it was swarming with sandflies, but thankfully this morning there was none.

4. Pupu Springs, Takaka

We would not have know about Pupu Springs had it not been for a friend in Wellington who told us about these sacred waters, apparently the clearest and purest water in all of New Zealand. Pictures don’t do it justice, you had to see it for yourself and look into the bottom of the lake to understand how clear the water really was!



Pupu Springs

The Maori people of this region say this is wahi tapu, sacred water. In earlier times they used the water for healing, ceremonial blessings and the departure and return of travellers. Before people used to be allowed to swim in the lake but now all that is banned. There is a leisurely half hour way around the springs, passing through bush (and purple rocks?) and in the parking lot there were billboards with information on the geology and ecology of the springs. We were hoping to see some of the creatures listed on the billboard but we only saw some water birds, algae and marvelled at the beautiful colours and crystal clear water.


5. Wairau River Vineyard, Malborough


On the last leg of the journey, we were headed to Kaikoura for two days so our friends could go whale watching. We were driving through the Marlborough famous wine region and Ashique casually suggested that we stop for a last wine tasting session. We needed to have lunch as well so we looked up vineyards with cafe. We sure chose well when we stopped at Wairau River Vineyard because we had the best meal of our entire trip at this Vineyard Restaurant! Enjoying great wine and food whilst soaking up the sun, large area for the kids to play out and lovely stroll through the vineyard, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend the last day of 2015 🙂


So there you have it, our top five unplanned highlights of our epic 10 days campervan trip. I love these simple moments – finding good food, coming across beautiful natural sites and meeting people who inspire you. Ashique and I would love to have a farm and cafe like Wild Earth when we move to Bangladesh, where we can have visitors enjoy a day in the countryside. Who knows, maybe it might actually happen..

These new adventures and discoveries is what we enjoy most during slow travel and long road trips 🙂 Have you had some great unexpected finds in your travels? Do share some of your stories in the comments below!


The Selim Family Raasta

Linked to Weekend Travel Inspiration Monday Escapes Travel Photo Thursday Weekend Wanderlust




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  • Tanja (the Red phone box travels) says: January 8, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    It’s so beautiful! #travel photo thursday

  • shere says: January 8, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    I see your pictures and I’m feeling like going back to NZ. It’s such a small countries with so many spots to be discovered 🙂

    • says: January 10, 2016 at 4:50 am

      Absolutely! I feel we have travelled here so much and there is still so much more to discover!

  • XX, Will Travel says: January 8, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Wow! These pics are amazing. If I knew about places like these, I’d kind of want to keep them hidden so I could enjoy them all myself. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with the rest of the world!

    • says: January 10, 2016 at 4:49 am

      Haha 🙂 Happy to share so that others can enjoy too!

  • Vicki says: January 8, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Stunning pictures of some amazing places – thank you for sharing these hidden gems – the scenic reserve looks incredible and has definitely been added to my list! Happy Travels 🙂

    • says: January 10, 2016 at 4:48 am

      Glad to share our travel discoveries 🙂 Happy travels to you too!

  • Anda says: January 8, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    It seems that you had a lot of fun in New Zealand, Samiya. I’d love to visit this country someday. It looks really beautiful. Thank you for sharing this astonishing places.

    • says: January 10, 2016 at 4:48 am

      I hope you get to travel here Anda, it is the ‘shortest’ journey from LA, my cousin is coming from there in 2 weeks, really excited to show her around! Can’t believe we only have another 2 months left, the year has gone by so fast!

  • Paula McInerney says: January 9, 2016 at 12:03 am

    The South Island of NZ is so beautiful and I look forward to visiting some of these areas.

  • Karen says: January 9, 2016 at 2:43 am

    To me, this seems like a trip of a lifetime. I am dying to visit the South Island! Thanks for sharing your finds and photos.

  • Lyndall @SeizeTheDayProject says: January 9, 2016 at 2:56 am

    How gorgeous is New Zealand? I love the look of the Pelorus Bridge area – really lovely 🙂

  • budget jan says: January 9, 2016 at 3:13 am

    I love the sound of wild earth and tweeted that sentiment. The swimming looks AMAZING too. It is so true that the spots you come across yourself can be the most memorable of a trip. I also love campervanning around the south island of N.Z.

  • Rob Taylor says: January 9, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Every post I see about NZ makes it even more tempting to add to our travel plans. Pelorus looks amazing. That water. Your family is so fortunate to get to see so much of the world together.

    • says: January 10, 2016 at 4:46 am

      Hope you and your family do get to travel here someday, really is such a beautiful country. We feel quite blessed at being given this one year opportunity 🙂

  • Corinne says: January 9, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Samiya, Gorgeous…all five spots. If I ever go back to NZ, I’ll relook at all of your posts….so I can be more prepared. Love it!

    • says: January 9, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Thanks Corinne 🙂 They really were great finds, so hope you get to experience them if you come to NZ again!

  • elaine massey says: January 9, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    New Zealand is #1 on my list of want to travel to places! It is so beautiful! Great that your family can go and experience all of this! BTW, I would like to do the link up but don’t understand how to put the badge on my post. Do I put the code on at the bottom of my post and then copy and paste? Thanks!

    • says: January 9, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Elaine, you put the code at bottom of your page, or just copy the image, save it and insert into the post and add any of the hosts link to the post. Then at the bottom there is a blue button that says link up. you click on that, add your post’s link and you are good to go 🙂

  • Rob Taylor says: January 9, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Those springs do look amazing. The picture at the end of that segment is really beautiful. Clearest water indeed. Thank you for always sharing such beautiful places!

    • says: January 10, 2016 at 4:45 am

      Glad you enjoyed them Rob 🙂 This was the first time we really got to enjoy all the water bodies, swim in them, and have gorgeous weather the whole time, was wonderful!

  • Kathy Marris says: January 10, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Beautiful photos of summer in New Zealand. The waterholes look so clear and pristine. I normally associate New Zealand with winter experiences on the South Island, although I have travelled to the North Island up to the Bay of Islands in summer a few years ago. Thank you for bringing this to us.

    • says: January 10, 2016 at 4:44 am

      This was the first time we experienced proper summer during our travels in New Zealand, absolutely LOVED it! We had also done South Island in the winter before, and whilst it was beautiful, it was always cold. HEading to Bay of Islands next week, looking forward 🙂

  • Anne says: January 10, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    I love NZ, your photos make me want to go back there now!

  • elaine massey says: January 10, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    I followed you guys on social media too. Thanks for the link up!

  • Marvia says: January 10, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Love all your ‘water’ shots! It’s winter here in NY, so I’m also loving and remembering road trips and long summer days!
    Happy New Year and happy travels for 2016!!

  • Marcia says: January 10, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Typo – that should be Marcia. Sorry!

  • eileen g says: January 11, 2016 at 1:55 am

    we have friends who did a “camper van” trip around NZ. apparently it’s the way to see that amazing country. hope we have the time to do it one of these days! thanks for joining #wkendtravelinspiration

  • Alyssa | Adjust Your Focus says: January 11, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    I want to jump in right now! All looks so lovely! Can’t wait till I make it to New Zealand! Going to Australia again this year but not looking like NZ will fit too unfortunately.

  • Laura says: January 12, 2016 at 3:39 am

    Thanks for sharing this! I am really excited about this because I’m actually moving to New Zealand with my boyfriend in the coming months! Although we will be living on the north island, I’ll definitely reference back to this when we’re traveling as there is some great advice in here!

    • says: January 12, 2016 at 8:16 am

      That’s great that you are moving to NZ soon! We just moved here 8 months ago, absolutely love it! We live in Auckland, but have travelled around all over the country, so much natural beauty everywhere…you can have a look at some of our other posts on New Zealand, have loads on both north and south island. Am sure you will love it 🙂

  • bettyl-NZ says: January 12, 2016 at 4:08 am

    We are planning a trip to the South Island in a couple of months to see some sights that I’ve not seen yet. We have been to Pupu Springs and it was just lovely..

    • says: January 12, 2016 at 8:16 am

      nice! where are you travelling to in South Island? We still need to get to Milford sounds!

  • Jessica says: January 12, 2016 at 5:28 am

    This makes me want to head to NZ even faster! I’m in love with all your photos – so gorgeous! Sounds like a wonderful 10 days!

  • Nancie Lee says: January 14, 2016 at 3:38 am

    Oh my! The water looks amazing! I want to do a campervan trip in the future. This sounded like a great trip. Those purple rocks are so interesting. Did you read what makes them that color? Great post and beautiful photos!

  • Packing my Suitcase says: January 16, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Amazing!! You guys have been to so many wonderful places in NZ, I admire you for doing campervan trips! I really wanna do this someday 😀
    Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes 🙂

  • Priya says: March 21, 2016 at 4:44 am

    Wairau River Vineyard looks lovely, adding it to our itinerary.

  • analis baskoro says: November 13, 2016 at 3:38 am

    its all gorgeous!

    may i know where you parked your car during swimming in Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve? its so lovely and definitely would be added to my next bucket list!

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