Trip to New Zealand :: Lyttleton and Rakaia Gorge

Last week I kicked off my posts on our New Zealand adventure by giving an overview and also providing information on our itinerary. Today I’d like to take you through our first two days in NZ which really kicked off the trip.

We arrived in Christ Church in the middle of the afternoon and after checking into our hotel in Christ Church promptly drove out of town. Jeff and I aren’t big on urban places for the most part and I had read in the guidebook that a small town called Lyttleton a “dining destination for in-the-know foodies.” Did I mention Jeff and I love to eat?

This town and Christ Church have been devastated by earthquakes these last few years and the last one had taken place just a week before our arrival. Nevertheless people are doing their best to move forward and rebuild. We parked in the middle of town and started walking up hoping to catch a view….and boy did we! Lyttleton has a very active port so it was neat to watch all the action from such a vantage point – the epicenter of the previous earthquake was in the middle of this harbor deep underwater.

Lyttelton Harbor New Zealand South Island

A fitting introduction to epic New Zealand scenery

Lyttelton Harbor New Zealand South Island

I loved the texture and color pop of this wall

Red door with green textured wall

An encouraging sign in the ruins of one building. Having never been to Lyttleton before it was hard to gauge the devastation but apparently it was extreme.

Inspirational sign

We drove west out of Lyttleton heading towards Governor’s Bay and came across this tidal flat. We got out of the car and had our first adventure. At times our feet sank inches into the muck but it was remote and beautiful

Mud Flats

Our first timer picture 🙂

We took the Summit Road back towards Lyttleton and again the views didn’t disappoint….this is pretty much the story of our trip

We ended up back in Lyttleton for dinner and discovered a sweet restaurant called “Freemans” where we had a delicious meal and our first bottle of New Zealand wine. Apparently our accents were a dead giveaway as the kind waitstaff inquired about our itinerary and gave us tips – so nice!

The next morning we woke early and drove via Mt. Hutt towards Methven to Rakaia Gorge. The guidebook had spoken of a “good easy walk through farmland – 3-4 hour return” so after stopping to admire the scenery above the gorge we headed down into it and off on the hike.

It was really special – we saw only 3 people the whole time and everywhere the views were amazing. There was also a great diversity of scenery as you were hiking both along the gorge and water and then way up high which provided for sweeping views. I’d highly recommend it!!

Methven is south of the gorge so I would suggest grabbing a packed lunch in Christ Church or along the way – we mistakenly thought that the gorge was on the far side of Methven so had to backtrack so we would have something to eat!!

Rakaia Gorge New Zealand Man skipping stones at Rakaia Gorge New Zealand Rakaia Gorge New Zealand Rakaia Gorge New Zealand Rakaia Gorge New Zealand Rakaia Gorge New Zealand Rakaia Gorge New Zealand

After leaving the gorge we drove towards Lake Tekapo where we would spend the next three nights – these next two photos are from along the way although I don’t remember exactly where.

We stopped along the way at the Farm Barn Cafe and had a coffee/hot chocolate. The owners were very nice and they had an exceptionally friendly cat 🙂

That night we checked into the Lake Tekapo Luxury Lodge which we really enjoyed and had dinner at Kohan – a Japanese restaurant the hotel owners had recommended. I had fresh salmon sashimi that was the freshest I’d ever tasted – yum!

Stay tuned for our adventures in Tekapo (pronounced tee-ka-po)