When I first moved to Australia at the end of 2012, my parents promised that they’d visit when I finished my degree, and so, despite dad’s claims that he hates flying because his “legs are too long”, they are finally here in Sydney! We spend a few days exploring, and then Dad, Eileen, and I continue on to our final destination: New Zealand.

All the details: Lake Tekapo

Getting there: Lake Tekapo is a 3 hour drive south of the international airport in Christchurch.

Where to stay:  Grab one of the lakeside, unpowered tent sites for $46/night (2 adult) at Lake Tekapo Holiday Park.

What to do: When you’re not lounging by the Lake, hike up to Mount John Observatory for beautiful views over the impossibly blue water.

Top tips: Come prepared with plenty of cold-weather clothing, as this spot is routinely freezing, even in summer!


We arrive Christchurch airport around 1pm from our early morning flight out of Sydney. Thankfully, someone had warned the parents about the strict agricultural officers, so we are fully prepared to have our bags unpacked and our tent run through 25 minutes of behind-closed-doors lab testing.

Somehow, my filthy hiking boots escape thorough inspection, but Eileen’s dehydrated broccoli arouses intense suspicion and is pawed through for the better part of the afternoon. Finally, we make it safely into the country, despite dad being caught with a contraband pear and receiving a formal written citation from the border officers (I can’t make this up)..

We meet Cal, whose flight had arrived about 8 hours earlier and had been patiently sleeping upright in a stiff chair waiting for the family to arrive. After picking up the car and indecisively parading through the supermarket, we drive off to our campsite on Lake Tekapo.

Cal and I wake up in our tent to fairly miserable weather and enjoy a morning of dashing under cover in between bites of breakfast to escape the sudden, and very aggressive, bursts of rain. It’s shockingly cold for summer, so we admire the lake from a safe distance, buried under several layers of fleece.

We kill an hour at a café in town having hot chocolate and brownies before heading back to our campsite and setting off on a day hike up to the observatory on Mt. John. We opt for a longer route that winds pleasantly uphill and manage to catch some breathtaking views of Lake Tekapo before hurricane-style winds move in and threaten to blow us right off the mountain.

The whole hike takes about 2.5 hours, so it’s quickly approaching dinner time when we arrive back to our tent. We enjoy excellent burgers before packing the car in anticipation of tomorrow’s drive to Whitehorse Hills campground.

Read more about our travels through NZ:

MUELLER HUT: THE MOST STUNNING SPOT IN NEW ZEALAND

THE WORLD’S LARGEST SWING, NEVIS SWING IN QUEENSTOWN

BUNGY JUMPING OFF THE WORLD’S FIRST BUNGY SITE IN QUEENSTOWN

NEW ZEALAND’S ADVENTURE CAPITAL, QUEENSTOWN

BACK AT IT ON THE ROUTEBURN TRACK

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM OKARITO, NZ (POPULATION 35)

SURVIVING AVALANCHE PEAK

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR ON NEW ZEALAND’S NORTH ISLAND

KAYAKING THE ABEL TASMAN TRACK

KAIKOURA & OHAU POINT SEAL COLONY

PHOTO JOURNAL: HIGHLIGHTS FROM ROADTRIPPING NZ