Published: March 5th 2011March 5th 2011
The following is basically a brief summary of what we have been up to so far after part 1. Needless to say it is not an in-depth, detailed, day to day journal of our every action, as we are too busy for that kind of information. Needless to say we are having a ball...
After the lovely campsite at Riverton we made our way to Lake Monowai, a free DOC campsite that is a little hard to get to, being a few kilometres down a gravel track. We found a sheltered spot amongst the trees and pitched the tent. There wasn't much to do apart from look at the scenery round the lake and relax, which is what we did. The site was quite out of the way and it was our first real experience of the horrendous sandflies out here. They are worse than mosquitoes as they are far more numerous and insect repellents only keep them away for so long. And their bites itch so much more. That night the weather turned and it got cold and windy by the time we went to bed, just a little drunk after finishing off the remaining beer.
During the night the heavens opened and we woke to lots of rain. We quickly packed the wet tent away and headed off to Te Anau, via a lovely breakfast special ($12 each) at the Cathedral cafe at Manapouri, which included Bacon, eggs, sausage, tomoatoes, toast, a hash brown and coffee.
We arrived at Te Anau with the rain still falling, and with us in 2 minds about pitching the tent or finding a motel. After some debate we decided to just pitch the tent quickly and get it over with. We stayed at the Lakeview campsite, which had excellent facilities. As soon as we unpacked the tent the sun came out and the afternoon was lovely. We spent the day cooking meals in advance of moving on further into the Fiordlands and then walking round the beautiful lake, enjoying the stunning scenery. We also booked a Milford Sound cruise from here, using a 2 for 1 voucher we got from the car hire company we used (Jucy), and also the Interisland ferry for March the 12th when we transfer from the South to the North island.
The next day we moved further north to the cheap DOC
campsite at Upper Eglington, where we relaxed in the sunshine and again marvelled at the beautiful scenery. That evening the weather broke, as is fairly common in the Fiordlands, and we spent an evening in the car reading. The next morning we got up early to get ready to head the 60km up the road to Milford Sound for our cruise when disaster struck - the car battery was flat! After some pushing and too-ing and fro-ing we managed to make enough noise to wake another camper up who assisted us in bump starting the car. We Thanked him profusely and quickly got on our way so that we wouldn't miss our cruise booking.
The drive to Milford Sound is through valleys, surrounded by snow capped mountains and is stunningly beautiful. We made the cruise time and boarded the boat for our cruise through Milford Sound out to the Tasman Sea and back. The free tea and coffee and Muffin were a nice touch and as we'd skipped breakfast, very welcome. I could go on about the beauty of this area for hours, with the mountains, greenery, waterfalls, wildlife etc etc, lets just say, it is a stunning area
and if you are ever in New Zealand on the South island, it is a must see. The rest of the day was spent driving back to the camp, stopping off for photos at every opportunity and a lunch of beautiful Lamb curry that Suzanne had made a few days before at Te Anau and that we had frozen.
The next day we had a long drive to Queenstown through some stunning scenery yet again, a common feature here really. We got to Queenstown and used one of the city centre campsites, which was expensive but had good facilities. We went up the cable car to take in the views of the town from above before using some of the watering holes in town, the Pig and Whistle being good with $5 'handles' on a range of beer, which is about £2.50 for just short of a pint. Queenstown was nice, but a little expensive. This was also where we found out about the major earthquake that hit Christchurch a few days before. It was extremely shocking to see a place we had just been to turn into a bunch of rubble just a few weeks later and to
hear of the death toll.
The next day we headed off to Arrowtown to look at the quaint centre and to walk round the old Chinese settlement. We then also stopped off at Wanaka for supplies before reaching our intended destination, another DOC campsite called Pleasant Flat, which was lovely and green, with a fast flowing river behind the site and snow capped mountains in the background. The only downside were 2 obnoxious bikers who also camped there and were loud and, well obnoxious to other campers well into the night but not to us.
The next day we made our way to the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. We had toyed with booking a tour to walk on them, but it is an expensive thing to do, when it is essentially walking on ice which we do walking up our street in the winter anyway, so we made do with the 1hr 30 minute walk to each of the glacier faces of each before heading on up to another DOC campsite by Lake Ianthe Matahi. This had room for over 100 pitches and was quite full when we arrived, but we found a good spot and relaxed
well into the evening in the sun. The next day we drove further up the coast, stopping at Greymouth for supplies. Our destination was a campsite at Punakaiki, which was right on the beach and had a tavern next door - handy. We walked on the beach, looked at the Pancake rocks nearby and visited the tavern that evening for some lovely beer. The owner knew his football teams by naming both Forest and County when he found out we were from Nottingham. He did seem a bit perturbed to find out I supported Southampton though. The next day we went on a long, challenging walk to the Fox Caves. It included a couple of unassisted river crossings (wet feet for both of us, me especially) and climbing up slippery, mossy rocks. The Rough Guide didn't warn us of this, but we managed it fine. That night we ate at the tavern, while enjoying more beer. The food was pretty good, I had Fish n' Chips and Suzanne had Steak pie and a basket of chips....the biggest basket of food we've ever seen.
This trip is going really, really well and is living up to the 'once in a
lifetime' tag. We're enjoying the camping. The car is working well for us and giving us so much freedom to go where we want and to do what we want. It is pretty much perfect. The weather could be better at times, but so far, 2 thumbs up. Excellent fun, that is a life changing experience and in no way one big, long holiday at all.
There are more photos below