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Published: March 9th 2011
Writing Wednesday 9th March
Here I am and taking Sue’s advice that my writing doesn’t have to be an “Orange Prize” effort. What matters is keeping in touch and also having a record of my travels… and thanks for all your messages – lovely to have them.
It is now 2 weeks since the earthquake and of course I have done lots in those 2 weeks. ( Just an update – Diane and Dave in Christchurch report that they now have power – but still no water – she was happy to be vacuuming she said- I guess you would be happy to be doing anything with electricity !!!)It has been great to be with Marilyn and Terry and also Angela (from Sydney) was with us for the week we had at the resort in Wanaka.
Week 25th Feb to March 4th
The resort we stayed in for the week was lovely – very modern décor all amenities and a nice swim pool and a huge hot tub – which would hold about 20 people- so we made good use of that. Lake Wanaka is very beautiful as is Lake Hawea nearby. So in that week we drove around the lovely
valleys , down to little bays . walked along beaches and tracks and round small lakes hidden up in the hills. We sampled the local beers and wines and ate some great food – lamb shanks and venison pies seem to be a favourite….and as Terry will vouch we were always looking for a nice place to have a cup of coffee – and there are many nice places!!! It will be difficult to choose a few photos from the many to put onto this blog. In the middle of the week we took off for the West Coast drove over the Haast Pass ( Terry drove – gave me a rest from the driving) to the Glaciers. Good weather on the first part of the trip turned to grey skies and some rain – but this lent very dramatic scenes – waterfalls gushing down and later rivers swollen and running very fast. We stopped along the way several times to walk in the Western Coast forests – so lush and tropical with many fern trees and also NZ beech. One walk took us to an amazing viewpoint over the Fox Glacier and then taking another access road we got
Accidentally took this foto but I like it!!
pretty close to the foot of the glacier.
We have enjoyed staying in holiday park campsites- which have very well equipped cabins and are very good value for money….usually a unit has a little kitchenette and also bathroom – so you can be quite self contained.
On the way to Fox stopping for coffee at a little kiosk ( very good coffee)in Bruce Bay we discovered the delights of the local nasties – sandflies!! Little buggers appear from nowhere and like to munch on your ankles – we hadn’t been bothered by bugs up to then so it was a bit late for repellent – Marilyn and I seemed to be the most tasty targets….you don’t realise you have been bitten till later ( so out came the Tiger Balm that night) You can eat your picnic pretty quick in these circumstances and the place was renamed by us Sandfly Bay …sorry Bruce!! Mind you we got our own back as any of them in the van got squshed pretty quick – sandfly massacre. I don’t know who started it but that place is also where people write messages on rocks and build little cairns…so Marilyn had to leave our
Shopping Mall Wanaka (1)
What better message for us!!
names too of course.
A pity the next day we had more rain so we never really got to see much of the Franz Josef Glacier and we just had to enjoy the drama of the scenery in rain and clouds and it didn’t stop us from walking in the forests and to more waterfalls even crossing a suspension bridge over a river at one point. As we came back over the Haast Pass again the sun started to shine and so we came back along Lake Wanaka and Hawea with beautiful light on the mountains – Angela has been wowed by these mountains and Terry kept getting told to slow down for everyone to take hundreds of fotos as we drove along, Thanks Tel – for all the driving.
Wanaka is a nice little lakeside town with lots of coffee shops and restaurants and some lovely gift shops as well as a second hand book corner – so I could replenish my book stock .( Patricia, I loaned Limestone to Angela and she really liked it) – there are also lots of adventure trips you can take here – but the earthquake was enough of a real adventure for
us- so we settled for a quieter life. In fact the beautiful scenery here has helped us to begin to come to terms with our experiences… calming and restoring …it is not something you get over in a couple of weeks and anything can come out of the blue which unsettles you again.
2nd March would be our anniversary of being together – 27 years ago Michael put pink carnations on the table for me- so pink carnation for him that day.
Week 4th March to today Wed 9th
Friday we left Wanaka in beautiful sunshine and took the route over the Crown Range in to Queenstown – some of the mountain passes( and I love the tussock grass covered hillsides ) here are really long pulls up and this is one of the steepest – but an amazing view down to Queenstown when you get to the summit. And there are some fantastic steep hairpin bends to wind your way down to the valley below.
We took in a visit to Arrowtown which was a gold rush town in the past with some lovely heritage buildings – and has an outdoor museum showing the Chinese settlement – there
were many Chinese who came to work in the goldfields. So we had a lovely wander around there before finally arriving at Rosslyn and Alastair’s home where we were staying. They had kindly offered Marilyn and Terry to stay with them too, and then when Ross heard Angela was here ( she was booked into a hotel) promptly invited her for dinner. Now Ross is a VERY good cook( everyone I stay with seems to be!! )and bakes great cookies and cakes so you cannot resist eating all she puts in front of you – I better not get on the scales when I get back until I have had a few weeks of dieting!!! The hospitality I have been offered is astounding on my travels…and now has extended to my family and mates. It was great having you along with us, Angela – lots of laughs. And Ross had some great stories to tell about their European trip a couple of years ago.
Queenstown is everything you hear or read about it – a beautiful town on the lake – surrounded by mountains – The Remarkables being the highest range nearby – and some nights its been so cold
on the tops that there is a sprinkling of snow – so it look amazing. Ross lives on a peninsula which is opposite the main town so there are lovely walks just here all with stunning views. ( M+T did a trip to Milford Sound on Saturday and had a perfect day – I wished I had gone too!!!- but Ross and I had a great time with some of her friends we tramped up a hillside above a winery ( sort of non-paying guests) to a rock concert which was going on,..Dr Hook, Credence Clearwater- we sat there with some wine and snacks and music in the background having a good laugh!!!
On Sunday M+T and I had a day wandering around the Botanic Gardens, the town and the lakefront sitting on a wooden swing watching the steamship TSS Earnslaw come in to dock. Then a fantastic drive down one of the arms of the lake to Glenorchy…lots of wow moments .
Took M+T to the airport Monday morning – hard to say goodbye when we had been through so much together..but I am sure it wont be long before I am visiting them in Spain.
checked weather forecasts and found it looked good for me to do my Doubtful Sound trip so a bit of re- packing and off I went….another fabulous drive down the Lake and on to Te Anau where I got the last ticket for the D. Sound Tuesday morning trip….lucky. Drove on the the little settlement at Manapouri Lake and got booked in to Freestone Backpackers – house and cabins up high on a hill up a track horses roaming around- I had nice clean room – fab views from the deck- all these BBH hostels I have stayed in have been great and all very different. Had bought myself a venison pie from bakery in Te Anau as lots of people had told me to make sure I got one there – and it was very good.
So yesterday Tuesday I was up early and clouds were already lifting for a calm and sunny day on Doubtful Sound. That was pure luck as it rains 2 days out of 3 and annual railnfal is 6-9metres!!! So what a perfect day it was – I went with Real Journeys – their coaches and boats are designed by themselves to give maximum
comfort and viewing…first you have a boat trip across Lake Manapouri and that is 30 km – takes 50 mins. Then switch to a coach which goes over the Wilmott Pass ( can’t remember how high it is but it is high!!) passing through beautiful forests and rock walls covered in mosses and ferns…then you get onto the boat which takes you about 3 hours in the Sound and as it was so calm we went right out to the seal colony on islands at the mouth of the sound Tasman sea. Highlights of wildlife seen were 3 sightings of Fiordland Yellowcrested penguins just swimming around in front of us, some little blue penguins and 2 pods of dolphins showing off by the boat. The D.Sound is wider then Milford with several arms and the mountains are not so high – so it is very different from Milford…happy now that I seen both. At one point the captain switched off all the engines and generator and asked us all to be silent for some minutes to experience that silence of this pristine environment….another wow moment.
And back we came down the Sound, over the pass and across the lake…al in
the sunshine. Oh and I am getting more like a Kiwi or an Ozzie every day as I then thought nothing of driving back almost 200km to Queenstown and one of Ross’s lovely dinners!!!
So it’s been just so much mountains and lakes and valleys and passes and wildlife – I am overwhelmed by it all at times. I leave here tomorrow to go and stay with Ross’s friends The Duffs at Invercargill – and next week plan to go along to southern coast . At one point I didn’t know if I would finish it all and go home but I was encouraged by Diane in Christchurch who said it was important for me to carry on as people here in NZ need to see that we travellers are still getting around and doing our stuff….so I am more or less sticking to the original plans.
Well – that’s all folks and I am mostly up to date now. Hard to choose the fotos – but here is a selection of the best.
Love to all.
PS Maureen (Port) hope your foot in not too painful and you are on the mend - and all those
girls are looking after you there. xxx
PPS Doubtful Sound fotos on next blog....too many to take in at once.
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