After leaving the charming town of Akaroa via one of the most impressive scenic drives we’ve ever done we stumble upon the bluest water, we’ve ever seen which immediately called for a picturesque lunch break by the banks of the Rakaia river before we continued our journey just to find one of the most romantic freedom camping spots you can imagine. Good, better…well this day was simply …THE BEST!


When we woke up the next day it was cold, grey and foggy and we thought GREAT, so much for scenic routes and sightseeing. However once we had breakfast and were ready to leave the campground the fog had already started to lift and you could see the bay below and a bit of blue sky was already shining through.

As it turns out, most days seem to start cold and foggy in New Zealand at this time of the year and usually once the fog lifts you are in for an absolutely fantastic late summer day with temperatures getting so high in the afternoon that you happily want to jump or throw yourself in the next ice cold river or lake! Luckily for us, we were planning on passing both today – a river AND a lake. 🙂

With the weather getting better by the minute we decided to take the scenic “Summit Road” from Akaroa back to route 75 instead of going the same way we came. One of the best decisions of the day!

From Akaroa you first take the Long Bay Road leading up the mountain. We couldn’t see shit! 🙂 However just a few moments later we already had to make a first stop before even having reached the Summit Road as the views suddenly were simply spectacular.PHOTO ALARM!!!!!

akaroa summit road new zealand

Stunning morning scenery around Akaroa

We spotted a little parking lot on the right with a sign for the Akaroa Heritage Park and the Akaroa Country Walks. We decided to check it out and do a little walk. Although we are not big on hiking it looked so inviting!!! The scenery here was so stunning especially with the clouds and fog slowly fading around the mountain ranges in the distance.

akaroa heritage park new zealand

Parking spot just in front of the Akaroa Heritage Park

If you want to explore more of the area this is the spot for you – several trails start from here and from what we could tell from our short walk you’ll be in for a treat!!!

akaroa summit road country walk

Spectacular country walk next to the Akaroa Heritage Park – we had a blast!

Also if you just look for a place to rest and have a picnic this will be an ideal spot to stop as the Heritage Park just next to the parking lot offers stunning panoramic views and comes with picnic tables, a toilet and even a little garden. You can also do a 20 minute Heritage Walk exploring the grounds and garden after your picnic before heading back on the road.

akaroa heritage park picnic area

Picnic area inside the Heritage Park

It was challenging getting me away from this place as I just couldn’t stop taking pictures…little did I know about the views that were yet to come.

Once we got to the Summit Road it was absolute madness! The views of the valley and the mountains (especially with the weather conditions) were so surreal! We felt like watching a fantasy movie – it was mind-blowingly beautiful!!!!

Here are just a few of the hundred of pictures I took while driving along this road 🙂

akaroa summit road new zealand

Awesome views from the summit road

When we got back to the route 75 (the road we yesterday thought was already super spectacular) we were almost a bit disappointed! 🙂


From here it was pretty much the same way back as we came until Tai Tapu where you take a left towards Lincoln. You pass through a few rural towns (Lincoln, Springston, Burnham) until you reach Highway 1. It is pretty much all flat and nothing too spectacular until you reach Rakaia Gorge with it’s ice-blue Rakaia River. We have never seen such a bright blue like this, absolutely amazing!!

If you find a spot THAT beautiful it calls for a break. So we got our chairs and some food from the van and went down to the river for the ultimate scenic lunch break!!!

rakaia gorge blue river new zealand

Lunchbreak at Rakaia River


After a nice rest we continued on a rural road again towards Mount Somers. After that the road turned into an unsealed bumpy gravel road (on google maps it looked like was not even a road at all…) but we knew we were on the right track! We were heading for Lake Clearwater and Lake Camp where we wanted to camp tonight. As per our App “WikiCamps” there was supposed to be a free camping spot right at the lake which was calling us.

As our van had a hard time driving along this rough “road” quite a few cars were overtaking us which immediately got Martins alarm bells ringing – what if they take the last spot?? I’m sure it’s full…what do we do if it’s full?? Do we keep going (apparently there were more paid camping grounds to come around Lake Clearwater) or do we go all the way back?

Those thoughts got even more intense when we saw a few cars coming back! This MUST mean that the campground was full. We lost all faith. However we kept going, just…because…

Once we got to the basic but super beautiful Lake Camp…mmmh, how do I put it…we couldn’t see any of the cars that had overtaken us before…in fact there was NOT A SINGLE other car there…nobody!! This was so surprising that we thought we must be in the wrong spot!! We checked for signs saying it was prohibited to camp here but nothing…everything pointed towards that this was indeed the free camping spot our app recommended us for tonight!!

How amazing was that? We had the whole lake to ourselves! Wohoooo!!!!


After picking the ideal spot (out of literally hundreds 😊 ) We quickly made ourselves a home unpacking the chairs, collecting firewood and starting the gas burner to prepare our dinner…

lake camp camping spot new zealand

Our spot at Lake Camp

Once we were holding our bowls of warm soup and the fire was crackling we couldn’t help but feel damn lucky to be here! New Zealand was growing on us and we were some extremely #HappyCampers! 🙂

lake camp new zealand dusk fire

Camping romance at Lake Camp

Next Day: DAY THREE – Lake Camp – Timaru

Previous Day: DAY ONE – Christchurch to Akaroa

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New Zealand Road trip day two Akaroa to Lake Camp via Rakaia Gorge