Category Archives: New Zealand

New Zealand

Mount Cook Village and one night in Christchurch…

MC5
Lupins at Lake Takepo, NZ

The last stop on our NZ tour was Mount Cook Village, a cluster of accommodation in the centre of the country at the foot of Mount Cook the highest mountain in NZ. The drive from Dunedin was wet with lots of low cloud, it didn’t bode well for a good view of the mountain but we pressed on. About one hour north of Dunedin we stopped briefly at Moeraki Beach and walked along the shore to see the strange round boulders at the waters edge. The Moeraki Boulders are about 1m across and were formed over millions of years in the same way as pearls with a shell or pebble in the centre gradually being enclosed in layers of crystals, very odd! There were a couple split open on the beach so we could see the insides. Continue reading Mount Cook Village and one night in Christchurch…

Dunedin

Dun7
Especially for Steve
Dun5
The Station
Dun5
First Church

From Queenstown, we drove across to Dunedin on the east coast, taking a detour from the main road to visit a small, pretty, historic town called Clyde on the way. Dunedin, named after Edinburgh, is the oldest city in NZ, the drive was as scenic as ever, lakes, mountains, plains and vineyards, we are starting to get blasé about the wonderful scenery!! We stopped on our way to pick up some crisps and beer to enjoy while we watched the American election results come in, filled with hope and confidence Mark picked up a bottle of Sparkling wine to celebrate… more of that later! Continue reading Dunedin

Queenstown

Q2
Boots getting down to it!

Next stop was Queenstown, backpacker central and spiritual home of bungee jumping and white water rafting. We arrived in early afternoon after a wet drive from Te Anau, it was too early to check-in at the hotel so, as usual, we parked the car and went to explore Queenstown; first impressions weren’t good, Mark said it felt like Newquay with mountains! There were lots of bars and restaurants and endless shops vying to sign up tourist for a whole range of adrenelin charged activities.  We dropped in to what appeared to be the tourist information office and asked a young man what he would recommend we do with our time, the least ‘exciting’ thing he could suggest was a jet boat ride on the lake so we gave up and left, turns out it wasn’t the official tourist office, when we found that it had a few more appealing options but nothing that really grabbed us. Feeling a bit down hearted we headed for the Rees Hotel which was about 2km outside of town. No B&B for us here, the Rees is a 5* hotel, and very nice it was too. We had a good-sized room with a view across the lake to the Remarkable Mountains (another good name!). The restaurant at the hotel was quite grand and we weren’t in the mood or the market for nouvelle cuisine so when the weather improved and the sun came out we decided to walk along the lakeside footpath back into town (the hotel ran an hourly shuttle to and from the town centre so we knew we could get a lift back). We wandered around town and eventually settled on a Vietnamese restaurant down by the wharf, we hadn’t had Vietnamese food before but it was very nice, Mark ordered lemongrass chicken and I ordered Chinese five spice beef, we shared the dishes and a bowl of steamed rice and finished up with a banana fritter with ice-cream. I’m not sure if that is an authentic Vietnamese meal but we enjoyed it! Continue reading Queenstown

Te Anau

TeAn 5
Says it all

We left Wanaka on Friday morning heading for Te Anau on the edge of the Fiordland National Park, the journey took us over the Crown Range of mountains and this time the road conformed to expectations. We drove through the valley and then up over the range, we emerged from the pass at 1080m and stopped to look at the countryside laid out below us. The road then wound down steeply and led us to Queenstown, we didn’t stop, we will be back here later in the week and will have time to look around then. We carried on heading south and then turned west and eventually reached Te Anau another little lakeside town.  Continue reading Te Anau

Wanaka

Wan5
New game of golf!

 

The drive from Franz Josef to Wanaka was to take us through the Haast Pass, the most southerly of the three passes through the Southern Alps, we were all set for a journey of steep climbs, hair pin bends and stunning scenery. The first surprise came when we programmed the address of our next B&B in to the sat nav, the journey details popped up as usual, “distance to destination 287km. Directions, in 283km turn right”, no chance to get lost then!! We set off and headed down the coast to Haast village (last petrol for 80km) and then the road turned in towards the mountains. We have got used to very good quality roads in NZ, even in quite remote areas, sure enough the road out of Haast was a great road, two lanes, good surface and started off at a gentle but steady climb. We climbed, and climbed, following the course of a river valley with wide sweeping bends – any time now the real climb will start we thought, but no, that was it all the way!! It was an easy journey and a good road right through the mountains, we were really surprised. After three and a half hours we arrived in the pretty lakeside town of Wanaka. Continue reading Wanaka

Franz Josef

Fran 5

Arthur Pass top height

We left Christchurch on the Trans Alpine Express, a daily rail service that links Christchurch on the east coast with Greymouth on the west coast. The route took us across the Canterbury Plains and then up over the Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass. The journey through the mountains was spectacular, we followed the course of two rivers (one of them called the Arnold River after a former head of Rugby School) crossing tall viaducts and passing through tunnels, one tunnel was over 8km long. In places we could see the track used by settlers and gold miners to cross the range in horse drawn carriages. As we started to descend from the pass we noticed that the river was flowing the other way, we had crossed the divide. Continue reading Franz Josef

Christchurch

CH2
It says it all!

The drive to Christchurch was once again very pretty, we drove south through farm land and started to see lots more sheep and some very large herds of cows. We didn’t stop for breakfast in Kaikoura, we decided to get on our way and keep a lookout for somewhere to stop en route, we were keen to get to Christchurch in time to have a look around. We passed through a couple of little towns but didn’t see anywhere interesting, then in what felt a bit like the middle of nowhere we saw a sign for the Mainline Station Café, we rounded the bend and there it was an historic wooden station building looking very welcoming. We stopped and went in to find a lovely, cosy old fashion station café still serving breakfast! The staff were friendly and the coffee and food excellent (as we are coming to expect in NZ) it was exactly what we were looking for and in just the right spot. We had a chance to look at a photo album showing how the station building had been moved from the railway line to its current location next to the main highway, it has been lovingly restored and a garden created alongside. Continue reading Christchurch