Once Upon A Wonderful Time in South New Zealand

Jasmine Riadi
Henry Triawan

If there’s a movie I could be grateful to, I would express my highest gratitude to the “Lord of The Rings” trilogy for having captured the landscapes of New Zealand, beautifully. Soon after watching the movies, I made New Zealand one of the countries I have to go to on my bucket list and was delighted to finally have the opportunity to visit, in October 2018.

New Zealand is divided into two parts, North and South. Since what I was aiming for was the natural scenery, I chose to go to the South. These are the three places that have stolen my heart the most because of their natural beauty and were able to make me feel like I’m in a dreamland.

Lake Tekapo

The road trip I took to Lake Tekapo really made me happy. There’s this tingly sensation in my heart that I didn’t find some place else as I was driving and enjoying the scenery. I take my hat off to the New Zealand government in managing their tourism industry. In addition to the very neat roads and everything is asphalt, the fact that there are sightseeing points scattered through the path proved an amazing attention to small details by the government. They are very knowledgeable of the superior terrain of their tourism and know very well that the scenery they have is too beautiful to be missed by the passersby. Tourists can easily park their car, stop for a minute, take photos, and enjoy the view.

Along the way, I was presented with magical views of the Alps from a distance and also the free sheep running, occasionally crossing the road. The sheep are truly one with nature, I can smell freedom and enjoy the taste of happiness, just by being. When I finally arrived at Lake Tekapo which is the third largest lake on the South Island with an area of 83 KM2 in a small town area, in the Canterbury region, what I saw before my eyes got even more… absurd. Unbelievably beautiful. I couldn’t find the right words to describe it.

The rows of the Alps that are looking so sturdy with snow on top, complete with the clear blue color of Lake Tekapo, seem to have hypnotized me. For a while, I was just staring at the natural beauty that caught my eye. In Lake Tekapo, I was lost.

Oh, by the way, one of the icons in Lake Tekapo is the Church of Good Shepherd which is also amazingly beautiful. If you are lucky, the aurora often shows its beauty at night.

Aoraki Mount Cook

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality
Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see

I think the song from the infamous Queen is perfect for playing along the way to Aoraki Mount Cook. The beautiful Lake Pukaki and the row of Alps on the right side is a fantasy-like, close to an illusion. Even the hills with the sheep or cow farms on the left are just as beautiful.

During my time in the Aoraki Mount Cook area, I had one of the most unforgettable moments when entering the Mount Cook region. It was crazy, sort of like entering an earthly beauty, like a scene from a nature, fantasy movie. On my right and left is a mountain range that I previously saw from afar, now very close to the eye. They seemed to greet me very warmly, signaling that I had arrived at my destination.

Upon my arrival, I couldn’t help myself not to trek the Hooker Valley Track. In my opinion, this is a place you shouldn’t miss when going to New Zealand’s South Island. Trekking in the Hooker Valley is the most popular activity in the Aoraki Mount Cook area. Worry not because trekking there is fairly easy for beginner hikers because the area is very well maintained. In addition, the trekking route is also mostly sloping land, steep rises or falls rarely encountered.

Coupled with the scenery on the right and left which is all a mixture of mountains, rivers, and trees, who can refuse to climb. You only need to cross three bridges before reaching the final destination, Hooker River. The time taken back and forth is around 4-5 hours, depending on how long you will stop to take a breath, take pictures, or just quietly enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Wanaka Town

Out of everything I’ve mentioned, hiking to Roys Peak is the most common and popular to do in Wanaka Town. However, I was unlucky because at that time Roys Peak was closed for the sheep to pass through, so I found myself climbing the Isthmus Peak instead. The track was quite tough and challenging. I myself spent 9-10 hours to complete the track, along with tourists and other local residents.

I also visited the Blue Pools, which are rivers in a forest area that are very blue in color and this is where I jumped the river from a 10 meter high bridge.

Safe to say, South New Zealand was unforgettable. It is where I found the true meaning of exploring the raw beauty of nature. Stopping by along the way was somewhat therapeutic, as I was able to really dive into the beautiful sights before my eyes.