Published: September 29th 2010September 28th 2010
Our New Zealand adventure continued as we drove south from the glaciers past a very wet and wild Knights Point, and then cut east across a very snowy Haast Pass. The town of Haast is on the west coast and to access the east side of the Southern Alps we needed to drive up and across the Pass of the same name. With the weather as it was, the brilliant white snow made the scene look beautiful and very wintery. Due to the amount of rainfall over the few days before, there were a lot of very pretty waterfalls tumbling down amongst the white snow, gunmetal grey cliffs and green foliage. We were very thankful that it was a little late in the day and the snow had cleared from the road so that we didn’t have to use the snow chains on the van. All we know about snow chains is that they are very heavy and made of metal! As to how to put them on, we had no clue!
A couple of hours later we arrived at a sunny but very cold Wanaka. Yes, that’s WanAka, make sure you don’t miss out that middle A. Unfortunately, we
were a few days late for the annual WanakaFest held in the town. Although, if you were to visit the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal every other Saturday, you will find a very similar sounding ‘Fest’.
Our first stop in Wanaka, was at Puzzling World, a museum cum ‘theme park’ with exhibits on illusions, puzzles and tricks of the mind. It was good fun, and we saw lots of optical illusions and holograms which were good fun. The two highlights for us were the ‘Special Effects Room’ (look at the video we have uploaded) which made use of effects used in Lord of The Rings and made us look very tall and very small. I managed to bang my head on the surprisingly low roof (which when living in a campervan is a more and more common occurrence! I have more lumps on my head than hairs at the moment!) The other highlight was the very strange slanted room that threw us completely off balance and made us feel quite nauseous after only ten minutes in there! Water could run ‘uphill’ and as you will see from the photos, we could be Michael Jackson for the day (well dance like him,
maybe not anything else like him!) We spent the last hour getting very lost in the most complicated maze we have ever seen! The challenge was to get to each of the four coloured towers and then exit the maze. We found the towers in twenty minutes but for getting out of the darned thing…. No chance! Our situation was exacerbated by the fact it was past dinner time and our stomachs were rumbling a lot!
Despite our hunger we made a short stop at the beautiful Lake Wanaka and enjoyed the lovely view as the sun set. It was a welcome relief after the terrible weather of the last few days and we were in good spirits as we cooked dinner and settled in for the night. Rachel was asleep early after a glass of wine and a few games of Uno; I however took the ill advised but eventually rewarding decision to stay awake until 4am to watch Spurs beat Wolves 3-1 on the internet.
Sunday 19th September dawned as bright and beautiful as the day before and we got some more great views of the surrounding areas as we got ready for the day. There
are worse ways to shake off the cobwebs after only 4 hours sleep than taking in a gorgeous lake and spectacular snow capped mountains whilst eating breakfast. We were very disappointed to hear that none of the local companies were running their Jet Boat trips, so we couldn’t take a trip. The weather stopped us in Taupo from doing the same thing and now when the weather was good, we were denied by lazy locals! Typical.
The road to Queenstown was short, spectacular and snowy. We managed to almost get ourselves stuck in the snow when we stopped for a photo and almost got blown off the road by high winds as we edged our way along very windy and narrow roads through the mountains to the lakeside adrenaline capital of the world. Queenstown is famous as a skiing town but also as a place to throw yourself from bridges, planes or any other high things that you can find. There is no better vantage point in the area to see the mountain range (The Remarkables) that towers over the town, the beautiful lake and people throwing themselves off a bungy platform than the top of a very large
hill, accessed by a gondola. We enjoyed a warming hot chocolate and enjoyed the picturesque scene before checking into an extortionately priced campground for the evening.
Monday brought another lake, our third in three days, as we drove south west towards Te Anau. This town was where we needed to be for our overnight cruise to a place called Doubtful Sound, which was such a highlight that I will do a separate blog for it later. The other reason for being in Te Anau was for an excursion to the glowworm caves at the far end of Lake Te Anau. We took a short boat ride across the lake to an area with accessible caves and a small hut where we were taught about the glowworms. Sounds fascinating hey?! The walk through the cave was unspectacular, but once we were in the small boat in total darkness being navigated round an underground cavern with millions of miniscule glowworms illuminating the roof, we were more than impressed. It wasn’t a long trip and was rather pricey, but its something that we are pleased we saw.
With the exciting prospect of our two day cruise through Doubtful Sound at the
forefront of our mind, we had an early night and that’s where the latest blog ends. Before I go, an update on the Round the World Championship of Games scores.
Rummy: Stu 22 Rachel 30 Uno: Stu 22 Rachel 23 Yahtzee: Stu 2 Rachel : 4 TOTAL: Stu 46 Rachel 54
There are more photos below