Exploring the South Island part 1
Lovely easy flight over, not so easy finding the place to pick up the hire car!
9th February 2017
Off I go…freedom is a white Nissan and Highway 73 via Alfred’s Pass.
Wow, oh wow, I mean OH MY GOD WOW!!!
Now a lot of people have told me the scenery in New Zealand is stunning, especially the South Island, but nothing quite prepares you for the breathtakingly beautiful drive I have just completed. The roads are very good, well surfaced (except in 2 parts where they are fixing them), a little twisty and turny in some places, but a nice steady pace, and I did the drive to Greymouth in about three and a half hours.
I am struggling to find the words to describe the views as I drove through this alpine wonderland, the rock formations are amazing, and so many different, shapes, layers and colours. Much of the mountains are covered with pine trees, but there are also large swathes of grassland. There are cattle and sheep grazing at various intervals, as there are a couple of stations (farms) in the area.
There are many rivers and streams that meander through the valleys, and two stunning lakes.
The unfortunate thing is not enough places to stop and admire the vista and take photographs, or not enough warning of the upcoming stop points and I had passed them before I knew where I was.
There are meadows full of lupines and foxgloves, in fabulous shades of pinks, blues and whites, they looked gorgeous, nodding gently in the slight breeze, and the glorious sunshine as I drove along.
With all the streams and rivers, there are dozens of narrow bridges, which only allow single file traffic across. There are waterfalls tumbling down the rock face right at the side of the road, the water is so clear it sparkles like diamonds in the sunlight.
With all my trip, I decided to try to keep a very tight budget, but once I got to my first nights stop…. YUCK!!! Stuff it, I am not staying in stinky damp hotels! I would rather pay a little more, or go buy a tent 🙂
I think this is going to be a very long post this week!
10th February 2017
Day two and off to Fox Glacier.
Another cloudy day, but a beautiful drive, more long and winding roads, through rain forest this time, past rivers and over more of those single file bridges.
I stopped first at a little town called Hokitika, and found a lovely little wool shop, shame they couldn’t wind yarn for me, so I left the gorgeous skeins of Merino wool hanging on the wall…. I will find some that I can use while I am here!
So, I purchased a few little bon bons to make something with. 🙂
But the yarn is not very nice at all, so I will waith until I find something nicer.
There were at least three shops selling hand carved Nephrite Jade, which is the local stone, and this one had a gorgeous wall outside it, with big slabs of Mookite, which is an Australian form of Jasper
Jade carries a revitalizing energy that can help to speed healing. It is a stone of health and abundance, allowing Divine energy to enhance the circumstances of life. Used as a good-luck talisman in many cultures, Nephrite Jade helps open the Heart Chakra to allow good fortune to flow naturally into one’s experience of this physical realm. It is also known as the “stone of fidelity”, Jade is wonderful for working with the Heart Chakra, balancing male and female energies, and helping with dysfunctional relationships. Many use Nephrite Jade as a protective stone that transmutes negative energies into positive, it can instil a sense of calm and well-being, and can help to increase one’s enjoyment of life.
Next stop Lake Ianthe, the water here is so clear. It is a shame it is so over cast and cloudy, as blue skies would have made for some stunning photographs.
From Fox Glacier town, a very short drive down the road is Lake Matheson, again clear skies and no breeze would have made for stunning photos of Mount Cook reflected in the water…but it was not to be. A fabulous 2-hour hike around the lake, and through the rain forest and I am done for the day.
Time to put my feet up and read a book. 🙂
11th February 2017
Today’s drive, down Highway 6, took me through rainforest, with crickets chirping loudly all the way.
The sun shining through the lush vegetation on either side of the road, made for a very pleasant journey.
I crossed that many rivers, and those single file bridges, I lost count!
And then as I came to the bottom of the mountains, oh my, the lakes!
The water is such an unusual colour in the rivers, a light turquoise, like Aquamarine. So many waterfalls too, all the same gorgeous colour. Just so few places to stop and take photos, but whenever I could, I pulled over. Though the sights will never leave my memory, having photos always helps to transport you back to the feelings of amazement and wonder.
I did dawdle today, and stopped at a Lavender farm, what a heavenly smell, wandering through all the lavender plants. I did have to make a couple of small purchases too, I do so love the smell of pure Lavender essential oil.
Leaving Highway 6 and on to Highway 8, my plan had been to stop at Wanaka, but my hotel for tonight is at an out of the way place called Ophir. Blacks hotel, wow what a fabulous place, owned by an English couple, it is lovely. They have worked so hard to make it a beautiful place to stay, and the restaurant is fabulous, the gardens are so pretty, and unique. The rooms are tiny but fabulous, having all been recently refurbished.
12th and 13th February 2017
A fairly, short drive today, first stop Arrowtown, an old goldmining town. With the cute oldy worldy buildings, and the busy bustle of tourists, it was time for me to go find some peace down by the river.
Next on to Queenstown, and the best part of 2 days to explore.
Another very busy town, but some lovely areas to sit and watch the world go by.
There is a village green with a lovely little stream running through and stone steps for people to sit on, as it is a free Wi-Fi area, it is mainly full of people on their phones, but there is a real sense of peace there.
My hotel for the 2 nights is situated up a VERY steep hill, so the legs got a good work out walking up and down a few times!
Having done so much driving over the past few days, I was quite thankful to just sit in the sunshine and read for the first afternoon.
On the second day, I had no driving to do at all, and made the most of the morning, walking around and exploring this lovely town. I found a fabulous little crystals shop, and made a couple of purchases… I just can’t say no to crystals, there always seems to be one that wants to come away with me, this time it was a small wire wrapped, clear quartz point on a lace, which I am now wearing. I looked everywhere for a yarn shop, but couldn’t find one, so that will have to wait until another day. I did buy some gorgeous mohair yarn in Arrowtown, but I have a pattern at home that I would like to use that for.
But then down came the rain, so I headed back to my hotel and my book.
14th and 15th February 2017.
Onwards to Te Anau, the largest fresh water lake in Australasia!
I went to the glow worm caves….how cool is that, a quick trip over the lake and into some amazing limestone caves, not that far underground, but an amazing torrent of water gushing through the rock has carved out some caves that are alight with glow worms. The only way to see the glow worms is with a guided tour, and once your eyes get used to the near dark caves, it is just amazing to see the little chaps with the sun shining out of their bums! 🙂
I am staying in a hostel for these two nights, but have my own tiny room.
Today is one of the days I have looked forward to the most for this trip, Milford Sound. It is nearly 2 hours of driving each way as I just couldn’t get any accommodation any closer, but I know it will be worth it.
Rain, rain, and more rain, but it was an awesome trip.
I stopped off at Mirror Lakes on the way….as you can see they really are mirrors!
Milford Sound is breathtakingly awesome, even in the rain. Mother Nature in all her might and splendour really does make us little humans seem so insignificant.
My next stop in Invercargill, where I will be for 2 days, with good internet access, so this seemed a perfect time to share my adventures with you all.
I am going to try to post once a week, to let you all know what I am up to.