Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road… take it.” Sometimes, you’ll want to relax and enjoy the journey. Other times you’ll just need to take a break. No matter the reason, the South Island provides some truly spectacular rest areas in which to enjoy some quality handbrake time. Here are some of our favourites…
1) Looking up the lake. Find a suitable spot to park at Lake Pukaki and, if the weather’s clear, you’ll be able to see down its blue-green length to the majestic Aoraki Mount Cook – NZ’s tallest mountain. Close by there is also the wonders of Burkes Pass, where the vegetation abruptly changes between green Canterbury pastures to wild Mackenzie Country tussock. If the timing’s right an incredible vista of Lupin wildflowers will accompany your drive.
2) A rocky coastline. Goose Bay is a popular stop for those making the drive to and from Kaikoura – the sheltered area a nice spot to take a break from the winding roads along the coastline. Park here for a stroll along the rocky coast and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the dolphins and seals that frequent the bay. Then, if the mood to stay longer arises, pop across the road and book yourself in at the local camping ground.
3) A time for reflection. When driving north of Greymouth stop at the Strongman Mine memorial. While obviously a sombre monument it’s still a pleasant area to park up and walk a few metres to where picnic benches provide a nice place to look out over the rugged West Coast shoreline. It’s a suitably dramatic spot to remember the nineteen fallen miners and to reflect on other more recent disasters that have befallen the strong coast community.
4) Rest your bones. McCracken’s Rest is one of the most southern spots on the island, with incredible views from the edge of the cliff across the Te Wae Wae Bay to the popular Hump Ridge track and the majestic mountain range. Many a traveller stops to take in a lungful of brisk southern air and, yes, more than one person has taken a photo of their crack at rest on the sign here.
5) Pitcher Perfect. Nestled between Blenheim and Picton on State Highway 1, the Collins Memorial Reserve is an idyllic spot to relax and unwind in. Spend some time appreciating the true beauty of the South Island before boarding the ferry in Picton and heading off on a North Island sojourn, or kick back with a bottle of Marlborough’s finest, pitching a tent and taking advantage of the opportunity to free camp overnight.