Summer Roadtrip! Part 2: Central South Island

Part 2: South Island 

First stop after getting off the car ferry was the Kaikōura coast. A beautiful and rugged area filled with native birds and a domineering seal colony. Being a place of recent earthquakes the main road in and train lines are being rebuilt, so road delays were the whole way along here. Plenty of lookouts and vantage points are being built into the road so it’s great to stop and check these out.

The following day we quickly embarked upon the most epic 4wding adventure we have ever done to date. Really putting our gear to the limit and testing the boundaries of the Landcruiser for the remote expedition. Exactly what it was built for. Landcruiser 76

Starting up steep treacherous mountainous tracks, quickly we were enclosed in the alps. This whole place is a hunting area and we were surprised at how many goats and rabbits were running around.

On the way in we met the only local who told us about secret passages through the mountain valleys. At least 8 hours of 4wding sounded like a hit so we headed to the river and found a great campground. Camping here you are rewarded with a heavy blanket of stars. The milky way is incredible and you can be sure to see shooting stars lighting up the sky. It really brings you to awe seeing the silhouette of the mountains, the expansive night sky above and hearing the sound of the coursing river right next to you. A place to feel a real connection to the magnitude of nature in its purest form.

The drive further in was rough. Many river crossings with some that were deep. The flats had numerous river crossings up to the bonnet and steep boulder rock climbs.

The 76 has only a 2-inch lift on 35-inch wheels. After doing this track the way to go would be a 4-inch suspension lift. It was getting a slight rub on full flex and departure + approach scrap. Having a bit of fun on the way in we shot a few rabbits for a stew later on. Nothing like wild game.The next day was full of hunting, 4wding and swimming.

From camp, we walked around the first corner and glassed the hills finding a nice herd of goats. Sneaking up to test out the new long range rifle, taking down two goats at 420m. Stoked! What a rush hunting from a distance and scoring. We searched for deer and chamois but none to be seen. Plenty of goats roaming the mountain, but that was about it.

The next three days were spent 4wding around some challenging tracks.

Being over 4 hours from the nearest help with no other trucks or people around the last thing we wanted was any kind of break down.

So everywhere we went we took it easy if we could.

A few things we learnt from this remote part of NZ:

1: Bring more fuel. We didn’t run out but needed enough in the tank for the 60km trip out. This stopped us from doing further exploration in some very nice looking places and cut the trip short.

2: Take a better chilly bin. An Icey-Tek is basically useless and ice will last only around 2 days in the heat. So a major upgrade or electric fridge is on the cards.

3: A water purification system would be helpful. Much of the water was either river, stream or rain. With known poison and 1080 in the areas there runs a risk.

4: Truck clearance. Having a 2inch lift and 35-inch tires one would think would be enough. However, we kept hitting the back on the departure angle and the occasional unavoidable boulder to get over. A hitch receiver would be good to remove the tow ball. But even better would be a higher lift and running 37-inch tires. That will be the plan for the next truck. The front wheels were also giving some significant rubbing. Apparently, radius arms will sort this out or the higher lift.

5: Upgraded night lighting. This was a given for night driving and something we already knew was needed. All the Mudstuck light bars are proven beasts, but we just ran out of time before this trip departed to get them on. It would be ideal to get a full spread on a trip like this


Some essentials for this trip are definitely a snorkel! If you want to cross the rivers the water levels are mostly over the bonnet. A winch is needed for any remote recoveries which we used and some basic tools. With all the rubble we had to keep tightening some bolts as they would rattle loose. And last but not least - more time! We spent 5 days in this place and that wasn’t enough. To make the journey out this far we recommend 10 days is a minimum. There was just simply too much to see and do. We only saw probably 20% of the place. And it was unbelievably beautiful. We did 180km on this track and used 70% of a tank of fuel.
What a place. It blew our mind. The scenery was amazing and we are definitely coming back here! Maybe even to go rafting down the river next time.


If you missed Part 1. Check it out here