Published: February 28th 2012February 26th 2012
T – Under the shadow of The Remarkables mountain range, deep in the Queenstown
lake beyond the fallen white trunks of the long submerged trees, far from the touring moorhens, just behind the forest of entangling river weed is a fish that LIVED!!
Queenstown is a fantastic alpine resort settled perfectly on a beautiful stretch of lake that buzzes with hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter. Great places to eat out, huge ice-creams on the river walk, steamboats puff up and down the water, home of the first bungy (NZ spelling) jump etc. and spot-on for all outdoor sports. So spot-on that we hired fishing rods and got 24hr licences within half an hour of arriving! A really friendly guy at the local sports shop showed us where to cast off and after the now obligatory slap up meal in town, headed off in search of a fish lunch the very next morning.
So ten years in the making, we did it and finally fished in New Zealand! We set ourselves up on a jetty and spent the whole day casting off and reeling back in, avoiding ducks and marvelling at the clarity of the water
What a vista!
and my, suspicious at best, wire knots. So what news? Well apart from practicing casting a billion times and catching somebody’s old lure, I managed to snag a large Rainbow Trout! But disaster! The beast wriggled and smacked itself so hard in the face that it escaped before I could land it!! Bested by a fish and probably not for the last time, we managed to snap a pic or two of this momentous struggle between man and the Terror Trout of Wakatipu Lake
So, deprived of our catch we wandered off in search of another fishy lunch treat – fish and chips on the opposite shore. A little bit more fishing in the afternoon and recounting our tales of close escape from the clutches of the largest freshwater man-eater in southern hemisphere to wide-eyed passers-by, curious well-wishers and ardent folklore collectors, we went to sleep dreaming of tugging lines, twitches in the water, bending rods (hang on this all sounding a bit odd…)
snug in our tent that was, by now, starting to smell a little bit worse for wear…
The rain arrived like clockwork as we packed up to travel another long drive to the country’s
glaciers for a bit of icecapades at Fox Glacier and the Franz Joseph Glacier
, where we spent two nights in a real bed!
K – As we drove through the village of Fox glacier we had made a bet to see who could spot the glacier first. We both lost – the glacier was covered in cloud so much so you couldn’t even see Mount Cook (highest in NZ) behind it. Undeterred we checked in to our old fashioned little hostel in Franz Josef and went walkabout to see if we could do some walking on the glacier the following day. It turns out we should have booked something weeks ago because everywhere was booked up. Never mind, at least we have saved a few quid and the next morning we did feel a little bit vindicated as we awoke to another cloudy foggy morning. We decided that if we couldn’t walk on the ice at least we could walk up to its face. So that’s what we did – 1 hour there and back up to the smaller Fox Glacier and the same for the big one, the Franz Josef. I had never seen one in real life
before so it was a really memorable experience for me. We learned all about glaciation from the helpful notices (Steph you would be impressed!) and couldn’t believe how far they could move in just a few years. The glaciers were dirtier than I thought they would be but still amazing to stand next to – a really good day spent.
T – And now, a drive up the west coast and across to the north of the South Island to the Able Tasmen National Bath
, I mean Park. We arrived in this beauty spot to do a couple of day’s kayaking and tramping, but when we checked in, the owner looked at his books and said: ‘Camping right?’ We nodded enthusiastically, then he pulled a sad smile and after he debited our card told us that a severe weather warning had just been issued for the next 24hrs and there should be about 8 inches of rainfall overnight. We smiled bravely through the conversation and plodded thoughtfully back to our car, just how wet was wet going to be? We cruised the campground looking for a patch of land that had an air of buoyancy and survival about it
and finally settled down to unpack and whip up some food. Just as the last bean of chilli left our plates the soft pitter-patter of rainfall began and it stayed like that for an hour or so. This wasn’t so bad! What was that guy talking about?
The night came and went peacefully and we awoke to more rain and realised our kayaking and tramping were not happening today. Then the real rain started. Can rain sound like hail stones and still be rain? Oh yes…
K – Oh my God it rained non-stop! Similar to the torrential monsoons we had in SE Asia but we were in a TENT!! A day of peaceful kayaking and swimming with seals was definitely off so we spent the day in a town described in our guidebook as ‘unremarkable’ drinking coffee and looking out of the window. Back in the camp kitchen we bonded with our fellow campers all of us planning our own ways of surviving what had now turned into a full blown cyclone. We decided to wimp out and sleep in the car – our tent was in a big pool of water and the campsite was in
a valley next to a river and I was sure there were going to be flash floods. I think Tom and I got about 2 hours of sleep – cars are not meant to be slept in, especially in 70mph winds and when sandflies are trying to eat you alive inside your sleeping bag!
T – Nelson
gave us a bit of breathing space to check out its lovely beach and soon enough we were crossing on ferry to the North Island again for our two day drive through to meet our plane. This time, the crossing was in gorgeous weather and not even the grubby travelling guitar player plucking the same three awful chords in to the wind could spoil it. Side note:
This happens a lot when travelling, and an audible sigh can be heard from the room when a traveller spots an out of tune guitar and decides that everyone should hear them practice tuning or thumping it rhythmically until they get bored or someone takes it off them. It doesn’t enhance the mood or the scenery, so I’ve decided this needs a name, maybe it already has one, but I’ve gone for:
– when someone is disillusioned into thinking that everyone else wants to hear them twang out a gluttony of near notes on the guitar, in doing this, they are also being a Git
. Perhaps you know of a gitlusioner or have been gitlusioned in the past? Maybe there are agencies that can help.
A slight glossover of our guidebook meant that we ended up driving 35km in each direction out of our way to stay in a rural retreat for a night near (but not really) Taihape
! A bit grumpy about discovering this at 9pm at night, we wind our way up and down the mountainside before collapsing into bed. Outdoor showers early the next morning certainly woke us up! And we caught some beautiful scenes of the sun rise and mist over the sheep spotted hillsides. One night in Tauranga
in the bay of plenty and we repacked all our belongings and felt the increased weight of our backpacks – it looks like we’re going to have to get fit again and on a tighter budget (three weeks of filling up a car tank virtually every second day costs a bit!) Farwell New Zealand, 'land of the long
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