New Zealand South Island
26 March 2010 | 36 37.26'S:174 47.50'E, 17/3/10 - 26/3/10
(Check out our Photo Gallery of South Island - daily shots to match our blog)
17/3/10 �- Auckland to New Zealand South Island �- Kirra Tours 8 day adventure! We departed Auckland bound for Christchurch arriving 4.00pm to a very cool afternoon about 10® Staying at Pavilions �- modest but clean accommodation �- John had his first haircut since leaving home�.just a trim Ross! Walked the town & found a quaint Italian Restaurant for Dinner �. yum!
18/3/10 �- Christchurch/Mt Cook/Omarama We were greeted the next morning in reception by our tour representative and joined the rest of the tour guests (which were slightly older than us �. but a great crew!) onboard our coach bound for Canterbury Plains , foothills near Geraldine ,Burkes Pass and into barren Mackenzie Country. Church of the Good Shepherd dedicated to the early pioneers of the region and the collie dog memorial overlooking Lake Tekapo which was stunning �- glacier coloured water amazing! Mt Cook Alpine Village gave us a view of New Zealand�'s highest snow capped peaks (lots of coffee, toilet and stretch your leg stops) Finishing our day travelling around the shores of Lake Pukaki to the town of Twizel and onto Omarara. Buffet Dinner - Staying at Heritage Gateway, Omarama.
19/3/10 �- Omarama to Dunedin Pass large Hydro Lakes �- Waitaki Valley to Oamaru and Dundedin the �"Scottish City�" (later experienced a Scottish Haggis Ceremony�.bag pipes and a pile of mush (haggis-John said looked like dog food! TASTED LIKE PATE! ) Boarded the bus, stopping at Larnach Castle( built 1871) for a brief visit, spectacular grounds�.sad family history. Next stop- Natures Wonders �-Taiaroa Head - what a treat! A local family Perry & Tracey Reid have opened their private sheep property, which borders the most stunning coastline, home to penguins and seals in their natural habitat �- We were clothed in thick spray jackets and jumped onboard 4wd 8 wheeler off road buggies. The seals were very close, lounging on rocks and rolling in kelp and the penguins were seen from a viewing platform overlooking an untouched beach never walked on by humans�. fantastic! Staying at Cargill�'s Hotel Dunedin A la carte dinner!
20/3/10 - Dunedin to Te Anau Visited Olveston House �- We would have overlooked this I�'m sure if we weren�'t on Kirra bus tour. This house/mansion was just amazing. It is in pristine condition and decorated with ornaments and paintings from all over the world with the most advanced ideas for it�'s time�. It was bequeathed to the town of Dunedin by the last remaining relative �- unmarried daughter. Alfred our guide enchanted us with stories of the original owners as we explored each room left with amazement! John said you felt like you were invading the owner�'s privacy. Onto Lake Manapouri before arriving at Te Anau with rugged bush clad mountains. Staying 2 nights Distinction Luxmore Resort Te Anau
21/3/10 �- Milford Sound This was a picturesque drive with snow capped peaks. We followed the Eglinton and Hollyford Valleys, pass the Homer Tunnel and descended into the Cleddau Canyon to reach Milford Sound dominated by Mitre Peak. We boarded a launch which cruised Milford sound �- I have never felt so small! This was an amazing adventure we were so up close and personal and we felt like we were experiencing The Lord of the Rings Movie for real! Huge waterfalls cascading onto moss covered mountains �- the launch turning at the entrance to the Tasman Sea & meandering quite close to the rocks fascia �- the wind was freezing on the bow of the launch but worth it! Definitely the biggest highlight of our Trip. (The following day Milford Sound was closed due to extreme weather conditions and trees cutting off road access)
22/3/10 - Te Anau to Queenstown We cruised across Lake Te Anau on a cat at about 25mph 8® outside�.pretty chilly! Heavy rain overnight and winds up to 60km ph. We were on our way to explore the glow worm caves. This was an unexpected delight as the caves outshone the glow worms. What an awesome natural phenomenon, the rain added to this experience as we were closer to the glow worms as we explored in a pitch black cave floating along in our tender being pulled along by our guide by overhead ropes �- the rushing water was deafening as we ducked and weaved along man made tracks exploring each section of the cave. A short walk exploring the lush surrounding of the island topped this off. We cruised on the TSS Earnslaw, a Twin Screw Steamship for dinner in the Colonel�'s homestead at Walter Peak high Country Farm �- what beaut spot! We were later entertained by an Irishman showing us the talents of the Sheep dog rounding the sheep for shearing �- quite the larrikin! Stayed at Rydges Hotel Queenstown 2 nights.
23/3/10 �- Queenstown This was a free day to explore Queenstown. We decided to do the Dart River Jet Safaris �"Funyak tour�"up bright and early 6am for a 7.35am start. It was freezing! Fresh snow on the mountain tops and raining. Our tour guide explained before kitting up we could possibly expect five hours of rain & �"Were we prepared to continue?�"�..I chose YES! John was not so keen due to his knowledge of jet boat requirements of little water & faced with a swollen river and rain was not thrilling him�.but we dressed in our supplied 80�'s fleece and wetsuit and soggy cold boots and boarded the jet boats. The boat driver explained this was a new river to him today due to excessive rain flooding Dart River. Shit! We zoomed along holding onto heated rails and rain splattering our faces�.John did not look happy! As he was the tallest the windscreen did not shelter him at all. We managed a flat out trip and a few 360® turns and slight grounding at one stage. Due to the excessive fronts moving in & the riv er rising, the tour driver was informed by management he could give us a �"get out and full reimbursement offer�" I quickly raised my hand! All but one declined but the tour was cancelled and we were bused back to the office and fully refunded�..most impressed by these guys and John wrote a �"Testimonial letter�" praising the company for their efforts and the impressive full refund for their records - considering they had warned us three times prior. We travelled back to Queenstown and decided to take the Gondolas high above Queenstown for lunch.
24/3/10 �- Queenstown/Haast Pass/ Fox Glacier Pass picturesque Lake Hayes onto a fascinating history relating to early settlement and gold mining era, Lake Wanaka with spectacular mountain backdrop. Pass Lake Hawea and the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka to Makarora and into Mt Aspiring and Westland National Parks. We drove north along the coast to the glacier region. We arrived at Fox Glacier in the afternoon, a cold and wet quick visit to the Glacier what an extraordinary site. Amazing colour! Bottle of Red Wine in front of open Fire place was a welcome treat looking out at the most amazing picture postcard view �- snow capped mountains. Stayed at Heartland Fox Glacier
25/3/10 �- Fox Glacier to Christchurch Helicopter Flight over the glacier cancelled�.bugger! Weather closing In on us�.took a good couple of hours to thaw out this morning�..headed on bus to Greenstone Jade factory and catch the Tranz Alpine Train from Greymouth to Christchurch�. a little disappointing this journey �- quite slow�.I think in winter it would be more picturesque! The last part of journey closer to Christchurch more spectacular! We spent the final night at Pavilions Christchurch and dined at our Italian Restaurant�.said our goodbyes to our new found friends�.�"Thelma & Louise�" nicknamed by us �- lovely cousins from England �- who made us laugh! They were quite taken by John and bitterly disappointed he was married. Laurie & Chris who were our neighbours on the bus�.and drinking buddies�. SA couple Annemarie & Neil, who could snored like a trooper & entertained us on the bus with his nasal noises.