Similar to my trip to Bangkok, my fiancee and I took the chance during our recent trip to South New Zealand to run. We visited Queenstown, Dunedin, Wanaka, Fox Glacier (town), Punakaiki, Kaikoura and Christchurch. While I had cycled in Queenstown, we managed to clock runs in Dunedin, Wanaka, Fox Glacier (town), Kaikoura and Christchurch. Our stop at Punakaiki was beset by rain and did not allow us a run. Here is how it was like:
- Run anywhere. Besides Queenstown and Christchurch, which have dedicated parks, smaller towns like Kaikoura and Fox Glacier town simply have vast roads. The roads are well paved and you can just go out and run along the roads. There are established running and cycling lanes in some towns. But these are not necessary given the well maintained public road infrastructure. So just go out and run. Simple as that.
- Be trail ready. The draw of running in South New Zealand is its hilly terrain. Small hills and forest trails are abundant. It would help to have trail running shoes. I did not venture into too many trails as I had only brought a normal pair of running shoes. Running along the coast at Kaikoura was especially tricky. Get a pair of shoes that can deal with loose gravel and soft soil. A huge bonus running off-road is seeing the wildlife. There were seals aplenty at Kaikoura and rabbits on Mount Iron in Wanaka.
- Parks are beautiful. Christchurch Park was well kept and dovetailed with its centerpiece – the botanic gardens. This made the running experience a good sightseeing experience as well. Queenstown park was similarly well maintained. Do your bit to be a considerate user. I have found the runners and cyclists in New Zealand to be particularly considerate especially when keeping to the left and overtaking safely.
Running in South New Zealand was a beautiful experience. The landscapes are wonderful and the terrain allows for varied training. The running experience was a definite bonus on top of the holiday. Do bring your running (trail ready) shoes the next time you head there!