Leaving Lake Hawea and Camping in Fiordland

December 22, 2017

After living in Lake Hawea/Wanaka for the past 6 months, we are finally leaving! We’ll be heading to Fiordland, and I can’t contend my excitement anymore!!
For the past month and a half Wyliam’s been working hard on getting the van ready to be lived in. He built us a real love nook where we can drive, cook, sleep and chill in comfort. We are really happy to take the road again, this time in our rolling home.

Mister Basil (behind my huge thumb) and I, ready for #vanlife adventures

Our plan is to drive to Fiordland on the first day, hike in the Te Anau Lake region and enjoy camping at Lake Monowai. Then we want to spend the next two days in The Catlins Conservation Forest and do some walks to discover waterfalls, caves and the odd tunnel. We need to get to the Picton Ferry to go on the North Island on the 24th so we will take the road from the Catlins, sleep in Timaru and the following night in Kaikoura to be able to drive to Picton the next day.

Once on the North Island, we have three days to get to Mangawhai, which is just out on the North end of Auckland. We will probably spend the first of these three days discovering Wellington, the next maybe drive to New Plymouth to enjoy the sea side and on the last day make our way to Auckland.

The main purpose of this “roady” -aka roadtrip- is to work with one of Wyliam’s friend in a festival over new year. She owns a foodtruck, and let’s say it, I can’t wait to be there working with them and foooood.

The past months have been an amazing opportunity for us. We lived in a wonderful location-thanks again to our Helpx host- where we were able to enjoy a ski pass at Treble Cone over winter, spend some weekend away in various locations on the South Island and work in Wanaka. While my better half learned some building skills, I worked in yet another restaurant. I loved the team I was working with though, and I was kinda melancholic when came time to say my goodbyes.

Overall, our time in Lake Hawea (read more about it here) was wonderful and I would visit again for sure, if only to swim in the beautiful glacier water. The van is ready though and I can’t wait to discover more of New Zealand. I feel like we have seen nothing yet, we barely met any kiwi people!


Lake Monowai, Fiordland Today is Monday, and we are done packing all our stuff in the van. There’s so much of it, didn’t realize it until I had to jam everything in my bags this morning.

We took the road a bit later than I planned, and still had to shop for some camping food and drop some stuff at our local op-shop (magnificent Wastebusters). Therefore, we decided to skip the stop we planned to do in Lake Te Anau and headed straight to the place we want to sleep at.

Around 5ish we arrived at the Lake Monowai campsite set amongst the stunning Fiordland scenery. Even under the clouds it is wonderful. We parked under beech forest trees and I cooked our meal. Pastas eaten, we proceeded to walk the 30 minutes to the trail lookout. Over there, we witnessed the many tree carcasses caused by the arrival of an hydroelectric dam in the 1920s. To generate electricity, they had to raise the lake level which led to the drowning of a huge number of trees. Sad thing, but it adds some character to the view.

Okay, I’m falling asleep, grateful to be where I am today, and to sleep for the first time in our mobile home. Can’t wait for tomorrow: we will be driving to the Catlins! Every moutain enthusiast we met in Wanaka told us it was a must go, and to take our time over there.

Well, we will be spending only two days there, and our schedule is packed, so I gotta sleep now. See you next time for an update on that roady!

À plus,


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By Lea Tess

Right after graduating from a Arts & Science Bachelor in 2015, I took the first plane to China with my partner. Since then, we have visited many countries, lived in Australia and, currently, in New Zealand. I am passionate about food and making memories!

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