The Beautiful Lakes of New Zealand's South Island

Three years ago, I road tripped across New Zealand's North Island and was blown away by the untouched landscapes and luscious greenery. What surprised me more was when people told me that the South Island was even more spectacular. From then on, I vowed to return. I just had to come back and discover the beauty in the south that everyone was talking about!

For this leg of the trip, Kelly and I joined a Contiki tour, a company that specializes in travel for young people. I've only heard good things about Contiki and was interested in trying a different traveling style.

The tour kicked off in Christchurch. Thirty of us eager adventurers boarded the bus and off we went! 



Our first stop was Lake Tekapo.



New Zealand has some of the most alluring lakes in the world. In the South Island, many lakes were formed by glaciers. Millions of years ago, glaciers covered much of the island. When the glaciers melted and withdrew, they left basins which are now filled by lakes.


The waters glowed a brilliant blue-green colour. This is caused by rock flour, tiny particles finely ground by glaciers.


Snow capped mountain ranges provided the most stunning backdrop. In the distance, we saw Mount Cook, the highest peak in the country.


Sitting along the shore was the picturesque Church of Good Shepherd. Built in 1935, this church is a popular photo spot for tourists. Inside, an altar window gives the perfect view of Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps.


We hopped back on the bus and drove a short distance to Lake Pukaki.




It was just as mesmerizing as Lake Tekapo. The blend of misty mountains, teal water and fluffy clouds is a sight I'll never forget.




Beside the lake, was the Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon Shop. Our tour manager said they had the best sashimi around. We had to go in for a nibble.




The smoked salmon was to die for! Too bad I didn't have access to a refrigerator or else I would've bought a ton.

After saying goodbye to Lake Pukaki, we continued our journey to Lake Ohau. Here, we checked into the cozy Lake Ohau Lodge and couldn't believe our view from the hotel.




Sprawling mountain ranges, lush greenery and glacial waters were in our backyard. Talk about luxury!

Later, we stumbled upon the outdoor hot tubs and jumped for joy. This was just what I needed after a long day of bus rides and chilly weather.





Kelly and Julie chattered away while I took in the scenery. I just couldn't get enough of it! New Zealand is definitely one of the most beautiful countries I've ever visited.

The next day, I snuggled up by the raging fireplace and munched on breakfast. We had to leave at 9am sharp and I was no where ready to leave this unspoiled paradise.



 Before checking out, I couldn't resist a few final snaps on the deck.





I could've become a hermit and stayed at that lodge forever. Unfortunately Contiki tours don't give you anytime to stay still. Stepping on the bus, I snapped out of my daze and looked forward to bigger and better things.

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

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