Published: May 19th 2012May 18th 2012
Leaving Te Anau
Route 94 to Mossburn
Yesterday we cruised on Milford Sound and had a fantastic day, rounded off with a great scenic drive back to Te Anau in our "Go Milford" bus. Even as we drove into the Top 10 Holiday Park the weather was starting to take a turn for the worst and looking distinctly gloomy. We have had a good run, 11 sunny days straight since on the road. It is now Sunday 29th April.
We are huddled in Crowded House deciding what to do for the day. Last night after getting back from our day of beautiful autumn weather we heard on the radio and saw the TV weather that there was a storm coming thru the central Alps area and that's where we were supposed to be going next. Even got an email from a bloke we know way up in Picton who advised us to "take it easy" driving in that area tomorrow as it was forecast to be very strong winds throughout the mountains. This bloke is a "veteran" of driving campervans around the whole of NZ for many years so we took his advice and decided to stay put in Te Anau for an extra day until
the weather blew over. His name, in case you want to seek his advice on a good well planned holiday in NZ is Ron Laughlin and he produces a great little book on everything to see in both islands. Just Google him up.
So, spent the day sitting in the rain in our warm little 'house' catching up on our emails and photos and stuff. Mary spent all our spare coins (these park laundrys chew them up!) catching up with the washing while I poured over maps and travel brouchures doing the sums working out our next destination. At this stage we had a huge 'glitch' in our laptop and uploading of photos. Not fixed until we get home. This is why we are so far behind with this blog.....
As we have only a certain number of days left, we have to start thinking about what to miss and what to see etc. An extra day sitting on our bums in Te Anau (too wet to even wander about the town) has messed things up somewhat so we decide to give Queenstown a miss and go straight thru next day to Wanaka. That should put us back
on track, at least for one day!
Yes, we know everyone says that "you musn't miss Queenstown, the "fun capital" of the universe", but the truth of it is we are not really into bungy jumps and jet skis and big crowds and traffic so the decision was easy to make. Great if you are younger and want to party and mix it with a group....perhaps in our next life!
So, the wet night was spent cooking up a good warm version of "Masterchef" in the camp kitchen at the Top 10 Te Anau. Great kitchen with good facilities where we mixed with all nationalities doing the same. One young German guy who had been on our Milford tour just sat out the day in the kitchen on his Mac. He was camped in a small one man tent out on the grass and it looked decidedly soggy! The kitchen so warm.
We swapped stories with some others who had been up to Milford Sound today (we went yesterday) and they had a rotten experience. One lot had their bus trip cancelled half way and had their money refunded and the others made it to the Sound
but the weather was so bad the boat skipper cut the cruise short. They didn't get their money refunded! How lucky were we! Monday 30th April.
We have to get on our way, weather or not. We depart Te Anau in drizzle with heavy black clouds looming ahead. Overnight was the first sign of snow on the mountain overlooking the lake. We take it easy out along Hwy 94 towards Mossburn where we will turn north towards Queenstown. Here I would like to vent my anger and disbelief at some tourist (they could even be Kiwi's?) drivers, some in big campervans, roaring past us even though we are sitting on the speed limit in wet conditions around tight corners and on double lines. There doesn't seem to be the practice of driving with headlights on here as in country Western Australia as we are used to. The visibility was poor and no doubt there were families and children on board....Oh well!
Fortunately the weather improved further up the road and we encountered open farms with lots of deer, had a coffee stop at Athol in the novel little Lazybones Cafe and soon came upon the small town
of Kingston which has a pretty little train station and 'heritage' working train on display. Set down near the southern tip of Lake Wakatipu this nice little town is well worth a look around and as we discovered, a photographers delight. Something for every taste, trains, boats, lovely trees and colourful quirky houses.
We proceed on along the shores of Lake Wakatipu all the way to Queenstown and what a breathtaking drive it is. Around a winding mountain road with stunning (yes, running out of superlatives again!) vistas opening up at every turn of the corner. We would look for a place to pull over to take a photo and then jump in the van only to find a better shot around the next corner where there was no chance of pulling over. This went on all the way to Queenstown.
As previously mentioned, we decided to give Queenstown a miss and just kept going on to Arrowtown.
Arrowtown is an old goldmining centre and trades on it's turn of the century past in the form of relics of prospectors huts and replicas of shops of that era. You can hire a pan from nearby shops to
go panning for 'gold' in the nearby stream which runs thru a picturesque park in the town. Naturally, cafes and trendy clothes shops with jewellery abound and we had a nice lunch at one such cafe. As always, the carpenters and tradies were busy in the town building yet more "historic OLD shops" and tourist sites! However, it all looked very nice. To be fair to Arrowtown it is a lovely town set amongst beautiful trees and boasts an Autumn Festival which we only just missed by a few days, Still, all the trees were in autumn colours and it was good to just drive around and take it all in.
And so we finally made it to Wanaka in good time to book into the local Top 10 Holiday Park overlooking the stunning town and snow capped mountains and the beautiful Lake Wanaka. Getting very cold and looks like we may need to rug up in Crowded House for the night.
More on Wanaka next blog.
There are more photos below