I wouldn’t usually do this, but New Zealand, and a trip of this type, I felt deserved a travelogue.
Business Class with Emirates. Drank a lot of champagne, a lot, ate great food and watched The Blind Side. Can we turn back? I haven’t finished yet. Land Christchurch. Lunch by the river garden.
Pegasus Bay – Winery. Red bridge and beautiful gardens. Stopped at Cheviot for groceries and food. Goose Bay – sunset – bright pink. Kaikoura for fish burgers and drinks in an Irish Pub.
Drove out of Kaikoura. Bacon Butty on Black Ash Beach. Broken Tooth :(
Drove to Bleinheim, including Cloudy Bay, Wairau River, Nautilus Estate, Hans Herzog Estate, Seresin – Recommend Pinot Noir. Dinner at Old English Pub. Beef Hot Pot/Chicken Lasagne – Nice Chips :) Hillbilly live music. Mount Riley Merlot – Very Nice!! Drove to Havelock. Camped at Havelock. Beer in park. Pastries in the morning. Beautiful surrounds and boatyard. Morning walk in boatyard.
Picnic breakfast at Pelorus. Bridge… Scenic Reserve. Tooth is still broken :( Drove through to Nelson – I’d live here. Beautiful town. Boats. Harbour. It reminded me of Galway, Ireland!! Drove to Richmond. Back to Nelson to fix tooth. Fixed! Well, kind of – Wait till I see my dentist – Grrrr. Looooong drive to Farewell Spit. One helluva an ascent through the Tasman Mts and in a Camper. Getting late, but we push on. We want to spend the night at the most Northernly point of the South Island. We come upon a camp site at Farewell Spit just before night fall. Grumpy farmer demanding money. Campers with lights on their head seem almost alien like. Cheese and wine for dinner – We are camping!
Woke up at 08.30 and took a walk along the beach. Like something from Sinbad. It is another planet. An all together new experience. Seals playing in the rocks. Baby Seals too. We got lost trying to avoid The Bull on the footpath, but found again. Holiday highlight. Time to drive!! and we did!!! Lunch in Takaka. Lovely town. No real history in New Zealand. It really is New – 1870 + . Hit the road – target Fox Glacier, realistically Hakitika. Ham & Cheese sandwich and a brew in the most spectacular valley. Powers me to drive on. Rain sets in. It’s me, the road, camper and Kristen. 22.30 – Fox Glacier! Tired, dirty, and hungry. Had a pint. Went to bed.
Awoke to the smells, sights and sounds of Fox Glacier. The sounds included helicopter blades to the top of the mountain and glacier – $250 per person… The best $250 ever spent and we were upgraded for no charge =) In the afternoon we read and snoozed, and later visited the Glacier Water Spa Pools. This fixed my sore neck and shoulder. Apres Ski Beer/Happy Hour at the Rainforest Retreat campsite (by far the best campsite of the trip) before making a special pasta dinner in the van. Tomorrow – Drive.
We leave the Rainforest Retreat – Happy Campers. Kristen loves a sign that reads “it rains… we pour”. Spectacular drive. Blue sky. Bubbling rapids. Clear blue water. Green trees – rainforest. The Spiritual Beach (as we named it) – monuments, statues, and names carved onto the rocks. Quite an eerie location. Demanded respect. Definitely a stop and not to miss. Presumably the surf will wash it all away, but then it begins again. More rapids. More trees. I have never seen landscape quite like this. Stop: Blue Pools – 15 minute walk down through the forest. Crossed a suspension bridge. Kristen not so sure about this. Martin bounced. Deep blue pools. Freezing cold waters. Two rivers merge. A good walk for a weary driver. Hit the North side of Lake Wanaka. I have never seen a body of water quite like it. It is an unparalleled vastness of landscape. We have been blessed with perfect weather. There isn’t a house in site – 100% pure landscape. Roll into to town of Wanaka – money town. This could be the choice town for settling down (apart from distance to family). We continued and took the scenic road to Queenstown. The landscape is in stalk contrast to Franz Josef Glacier. It is rocky and barren. The rolling wine wagon turns into Queenstown. Beautiful - paddle boats, autumn trees surrounding the lake, mountain lined horizon. Clean, tidy and modest. Love it. Fergburger must be selling pot or some?? Extraordinarily long line circles this diner. Tired driver. Parked at Party Central; a camper van hell – holiday park. Find a pub. Take a pint of Manchester Boddington’s – go figure :-/ Dinner at The Pub. Excellent experience. Shower. Back out to town. Coyote Bar for table top dancers and two friendly Christians (just married). This turned into the drinking night of the holiday.
Check-out time 10am. Wake-up at 10am. Toilets and showers closed. Drive to Lake Wakatipu. I take a wash in the lake – refreshing – and use the public facilities for morning relief – sparkling clean. Chef Kristen cooks up a storm – Coffee and bacon sanny from the back of the van. We are tired of driving but we are lucky in that we have done many of the extreme pursuits that Queenstown offers – rafting, canyoning, mountain biking. The Jet Boat ride would have been cool, but we decide to keep the $109 to ourselves. Instead we decide to hit the road to Milford Sound (4 hours from Queenstown) – this would prove to be the greatest decision of the trip. We drive to ‘middle earth’ passing through Kingston, Mossburn, Te Anau. We ate lunch at The Ranch – Blue Eyed Cod. The drive that followed this goes beyond words. If you only have 1 day left on this planet, make sure it is spent driving from Te Anau to Milford Sound. Trust me. It also has the best tunnel ever! And on one designated day of the year you can run through it buff naked. Arrive in Milford Sound – 1 x restaurant, 1 x caravan park, 1 x boat dock. I am suffering from the night before, but three strong paracetamol later and I am revived. Night walk to restaurant. I have never seen the sky so clear or the stars so bright. It is as though you could reach into The Cosmos and fly through the planets. Pizza and wine night at the restaurant. $15 per head. Superb. Next up: Glow Worm Trail. This is the first time I have ever seen a glow worm.
7am alarm clock for Mitre Sound II. $40 per head for morning coffee and cruise on Milford Sound. A photograph will never do this experience justice, but taken in the abstract – fiord, waterfall, sunrise, dolphin pods, tasman sea and seals. Cruise ships can enter this fiord it is so vast, but yet it remained undiscovered for a long time. Through an optical illusion the entrance appears closed. Boat ride over – fingers and toes chilled to ice. We find refuge a local coffee shop and slowly regain a normal body temperature. All set for an 8 hour drive to Christchurch via Queenstown (back tracking slightly). Green lake – unusual colour. Pulled into Wooing Tree. A place where man traditionally woo’s their woman. Nice wine, but we left it, so probably not that good. Bungy jumpers on the bridges. I might try that in the next life. We are now in arid country – Arizona like almost. Stunning drive. No one ahead. No one behind. I would give anything for an English sports car right now. We are able to see the other side of Mt Cook that we flew over in a helicopter. Sunset drive I will never forget. Lake Tekupo – worth a day or two next time we are in New Zealand. Arrive into Fairlie – one horse town with two pubs and a church that has a sign that reads – “God is perfect. It is man who makes mistakes”. We grab some food and wine in the local pub. Kristen is offered champagne flutes with the bottle of red. Awesome. A hen night rolls in to the men’s room of the pub and causes an almighty commotion. A pleasant couple jokes that we will join them before the night is out. We laugh and say we’ll be heading home. 23:00 – Kristen is dancing the night away!
Awake. Fairlie to Christchurch. Christchurch Emirates lounge. Champagne, more Champagne, and more Champagne. zzzZZZ memories.
In a nutshell… If you only have 3 days in New Zealand, I would recommend Queenstown, for the activities, and Milford Sound for something you have never experienced before and will never likely experience again.
A complete map of this road trip can be found at Google Maps.
Photography captured at: