Unfortunately the rain which started the evening before didn’t stop during the night and so it was still raining when we got up which meant that for the first time we needed to pack our tent in full rain. As you can imagine this was good fun to start the day.
About two hours later we reached Queenstown – adrenaline capital of the world. As it was still raining we cut off the planned luge ride and had a look at the underwater observatory (basically seeing some fishes and diving ducks) and snacked at Cookie Times instead. After that we continued our journey through rainy, mountainous scenery northwards to Twizel where we stayed for the night.
Luckily the sky had cleared overnight and we had
perfect weather for our day trip to Mount Cook. Already the fifty
kilometer drive along Lake Pukaki offered spectacular views of the
nearby mountain ranges and we stopped several times to take pictures.
Our four hour hike up the Hooker Valley was a real highlight. The path
led along two suspension bridges and offered a lot of alpine beauty.
After having a picnic with the glacier in sight we headed back to our
car and on the way even saw a helicopter bringing material for a new
bridge up the valley (a lot of spectacle). In addition Kevin once again
managed to burn his head quite badly as he took off his beanie halfway
and had forgotten his hat in the car.
The rest of the afternoon
we spent driving south again to Wanaka where we would stay at the very
nice Aspiring Campervan and Holiday Park.
After a good sleep and
some relaxing at the campground we headed to Puzzling World a museum of
illusion with a quite big maze. The museum was refreshingly low tech
and we were amazed by the various illusions presented. The maze was good
fun too and occupied us for a good ninety minutes (okay, Kevin was
occupied a bit longer than Hazel).
The next day we aimed for the
West Coast where we wanted to see Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier. On the
way to Haast we stopped several times at various look outs to enjoy Lake
Wanaka and Lake Hawea as well as at a series of waterfalls. From Haast
it was another two hours drive to Fox Glacier where we stayed for the
night (not on the glacier but in the town with the same name).
a cold night in the tent we were up and running to explore the region.
First we walked around Lake Matheson which offered reflection of (the
backside of) Mount Cook which was unfortunately mostly covered in
clouds. Afterwards we wanted to have a look at the glacier itself. A
forty-five minute walk led us to the edge of the glacier – although
being relatively small (compared to Swiss glaciers) the sight was
impressive. Impressive and shocking was also the sign who showed were
the glacier was in 1930 – it was at least one kilometer away from the
current glacier edge.
A thirty minutes drive brought us to Franz
Joseph Glacier (which looks about the same as Fox Glacier) where after
having a look at the glacier we indulged ourselves in the local hot
pools. As we needed to catch the inter-island ferry in two days time we
needed to move on another two and a half hours to Greymouth.
last day on the South Island was spent driving 360 kilometers from
Greymouth to Picton and once again we had the chance to drive through
superb coastal and mountain landscapes. We also couldn’t resists to
revisit the penguins at Cape Foulwind (see earlier entry) including a
big ice cream. As it was Chinese New Year we decided to have our own
little hot pot at the campground in Picton and we have to say it was
quite yummy (besides having no Abalone)
The next day it was time
to say good-bye to New Zealand’s South Island as we boarded the
Interislander Ferry from Picton to Wellington.
As you hopefully
can sense from our entries the South Island is really a fantastic place
with one natural highlight after the other. Where else in the world can
you see penguins, seals, glaciers, fantastic coast lines and lush
forests in so close proximity? Definitely a place we want to revisit
again one day. But for now we were off to the North Island.