Monthly Archives: February 2011
Friday 11th February
In the morning Peter and Margie went for a walk while we made the most of the campsite facilities and had showers followed by a cooked breakfast in the camp kitchen. It was very well set up with individual workstations and communal tables. The kitchen also had internet access so we made use of it and called the boys on skype. Peter and Margie returned with tales of their walk along with an invitation to lunch with some local people. We packed up and had a look around Arrowtown in the morning.
I really liked Arrowtown, I could live in Arrowtown, with its stone cottages and non-native trees like oak and sycamore, it felt very homely. The main shopping street of this charming old gold-mining town is delightful to stroll along. The town still retains much of its original character, with many of its old shops still in use today. Needless to say this was one of my favourite shops.
We spent a sunny morning wandering around the local farmers market (delicious cherries) and in and out of the shops but sadly not enough time again. We drove to outskirts of Arrowtown to meet Peters new friends Sue and Toddy. His parents had brought Toddy here when he was 8 and he’s lived here ever since. Sue was a born and bred kiwi and they were both really hospitable people. We all brought various things to the table and had a delicious lunch. Afterwards they walked us around their 20acre ‘hobby’ farm showing us their pigs, cows and market garden and the most fabulous views across to the Remarkables range.
Afterwards we continued the short drive into Queenstown and camped just outside the town next to Lake Wakatipu, the South Islands largest lake. It was an amazing spot. Peter and Margie were parked just behind us. The ranger later told us that we shouldn’t be that close to the water but he let us stay and we had a peaceful night.
Thursday 10th February.
We had a wonderful evening watching the last of the sun go down over the mountains but it was a very cold night. We woke up to 8C, not good for a bad back. We packed up and continued on the Haast pass. Up to this point we didn’t have a mobile signal but as we got nearer to Wanaka the phone burst into life. We had a message from Peter and Margie to let us know they were in Wanaka and suggested meeting at midday. This worked out well because that’s the time we had planned to arrive there.
We sat back and enjoyed our drive along the captivating shores of Lake Wanaka, the crystal clear waters sparkling on our right hand side. The road continued over a short rise and then we had Lake Hawea equally magical on our left side. New Zealand is stunning beautiful. Every corner brings a new vista more breath taking than the last. We arrived in Wanaka and met up with Peter and Margie. It was a lovely day so we had a picnic by the lake.
Wanaka is home to Puzzling World, which provides teasing entertainment for all ages with its challenging maze and mind-boggling illusions. This tower is at the entrance – look a bit closer at the clock! We all decided to try the maze. On entry we were faced with the instructions ‘Make your way to each of the four coloured corners, one by one, then make your way out’. Well this was easier said than done. Bill and I stayed together but Peter and Margie separated.
It was a three dimensional maze because there were two lots of stairs over the top that lead to different part of the maze, it was really intriguing. This photo shows only about a quarter of the maze. We managed to find 3 of the towers but couldn’t get to the fourth. By standing up in the towers you could see how to get to the next entrance but there were always twists under the stairs that you couldn’t see. There were emergency exits into the café in the centre and I have to admit, after an hour and a half of wandering around trying to find the fourth tower, I took. Bill continued and found the fourth tower but decided against going half way round again to get to the exit. Well done to Peter and Margie because they both did it.
This is Peter in one of the towers with their camper just sticking out from behind and the next photo is one of the illusions!
Sadly we left Wanaka without having time to look around it but we needed to press on. We drove alongside Lake Dunstan which was just as beautiful as the ones we had passed earlier. We headed down to Arrowtown passing the 45º latitude on our way. We all camped at an organised campsite just outside the town which had showers.
Wednesday 9th February
We had a good nights sleep in the hostel and the next morning we awoke to blue skies. We packed our stuff up quickly and headed towards Fox glacier but stopped at Lake Matheson on the way. Lake Matheson is also known as the mirror lake because if you get there between 6am and 9am before the wind starts up it’s possible to see beautiful reflections of a snow capped Mount Cook. We made it by 8am and almost ran around to the viewing point. The reflections were there but a cloud covered Mount Cook just as we arrived – doh! We continued the walk right round the lake, thankfully the rain seems to have gone.
We walked back to the car for breakfast and then continued into the village to walk to Fox Glacier.
The spectacle of this giant river of ice as it cuts through dramatic glacial valleys is captivating. The Fox glacier grinds its way down onto the glacial moraine at a rate from 1 – 4 metres a day and while many glaciers have been retreating Fox glacier still flows almost to sea level.
In the last ice age the glacier would have filled this valley, if you look carefully at this photo it’s possible to see how small the people are walking across the glacial moraine.
It was an interesting walk to the bottom of the ice.
The river flowing out from under the ice was running very fast with large lumps of ice in it, which were being deposited further down the moraine.
We continued to drive south on the coast road to Haast, southern gateway to the West coast. It’s one of the most scenic drives in the country. We passed so many shades of green and blue in a variable landscape of rainforest, wetlands and glacier fed rivers. Our camp that evening was at Cameron flats in the middle of the Mount Aspiring national park on a raised area looking north over the Haast river towards a snow capped Mount Hooker.
We had it to ourselves and it was just stunning but we had our first introduction to Sandflies.
Tuesday 8th February
It was quite a cold night but we slept well on our airbed with a duvet and Grannies crocheted blanket keeping up warm. In the morning I made the mistake of trying to walk around inside the tent while bending over and suddenly felt a tweak – I had put my back out again. We packed up and continued to drive down the west coast but my back was feeling painful. I was cross with myself for doing something so silly. We stopped at Whataroa so I could get out and stretch my back. There was a very nice museum of Maori artefacts that we wandered around.
We continued on our drive heading for the Franz Josef Glacier. Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, 15 miles apart, are the only glaciers that descend as low as 300m above sea level any where in the world. The Franz Joseph descends from the top of the Southern Alps and cuts through dramatic glacial valleys to flow into temperate rain forest and out towards the sea.
Unfortunately when we got there it started raining but we still walked across the glacial moraine to come face to face with billions of cubic metres of solid blue ice.
The rain created the most stunning water falls which enhanced our walk in the rain. We drove back into the town and spent several hours in the Glacial hot pools which varied from 36C to 40C, did my back a power of good. With the combination of the rain and my bad back we decided to book into a back-packers hostel for the night. Very nice and comfortable.
Peter and Margie left first thing the next morning and I spent the day re-sewing the cockpit cover while Bill finished off his varnishing.
We got up early on the Sunday morning and loaded everything into the car and drove back to the boat. We quickly unpacked the car and repacked it with all our new camping gear, some food, and a few bags of clothes, so we could leave the next day on our tour of the South Island. Monday morning arrived with the sun and we set off for the west coast. We headed south to Blenheim where we turned onto highway 63 passing vineyard after vineyard on our way to St Arnaud where we stopped for lunch. We had cloudy skies and the weather wasn’t as warm as it had been in Picton – was this the norm for the west coast? We joined our first traffic jam. NZ has a ratio of 15 sheep to each person, these sheep were being moved to different grazing, holding up the cars as they went.
We continued to Murchison on the Buller river. The Buller Gorge offers spectacular scenery and is home to New Zealand’s longest swing bridge.
We turned onto highway 69 and headed for Greymouth, the largest town on the west coast. The boom time for Greymouth came in the 1860s when the gold rush brought the development of road and rail links. Many of the old character properties still exist including Monteith’s brewery started in 1868. The town has a selection of café’s and restaurants as well as numerous jade galleries. The Tranzalpine train leaves Greymouth for Christchurch.
Just outside Greymouth we had to share the road with the rail track, fortunately there weren’t any trains coming. We continued to Hokitika for our first campsite. The campsites here are very nice. There was a communal kitchen as well as the usual shower block and it was next to the beach.
After putting the tent up we went for a nice walk along the beach to end the day.
3rd February 2011
172º 58.0 east
Today we met Peter and Margie, our American friends from the BWR off the boat Peregrina. They flew in from Brisbane, Australia where Peregrina has been based since leaving the rally in August. We had a great time catching up with each other’s news over lunch then we drove into Christchurch to have a quick look around. As the weather wasn’t very good we spent quite a bit of time in the museum. We decided to have a proper look around when we return in a few weeks time… We all drove back to Kate’s where we enjoyed one of Barry’s delicious barbeques for dinner.
The next day was hot and sunny so we followed the summit route across the top of the Banks peninsular to Akaroa. Perched on the edge of a deep volcanic harbour, Akaroa is South Island’s oldest town. Within days of the British declaring sovereignty over NZ in 1840, a shipload of French settlers founded Akaroa and it has remained French in spirit ever since. The four of us strolled through the picturesque seaside village.
The local church had a craft fair, so we wandered through the stalls of hats, honey and homemade wine. The foreshore is lined with cafes, art galleries and boutique shops many with a French theme. We walked along the waterfront looking out at the boats bobbing around on buoys. If we had brought Camomile further south this is one of the places we could have visited but the amount of beautiful days like the one we were experiencing were few and far between. We drove back along the coast road.