From Auckland, we flew to Christchurch, rented a car, and drove around the South Island. We started with a scenic drive through Canterbury to Otago, past snow-covered mountains, deep river gorges, pristine lakes, and vineyards. When our kids began getting a little restless in the car, we gave them maps we had picked up at a Visitors Center. They had fun participating in the travel planning by choosing a few activities and places they wanted to stop along the way.
Just south of Twizel past Lake Pukaki, we stopped at High Country Salmon. The kids got to feed the farm-raised salmon for free, and we bought some delicious smoked salmon for a snack. We continued our drive into Cromwell, where we stopped for lunch at a quaint cafe and farmers market store.
My daughters chose gold mining along the Kawarau Gorge as one of their activities. While they explored the former gold miners colony at Goldfields Mining Centre, learned a bit about the history of gold mining in the area, and panned for gold, I walked through the gardens, perused the Wild Earth Wines cafe, and sat in comfortable cushioned chair by a stone fireplace reading a book with the owners’ friendly golden labs at my feet. I’m not sure which my daughters liked best – panning for gold or petting the two friendly dogs who greeted them and gave them a warm snuggle.