Struggling for Superlatives - Part 1

Trip Start Aug 07, 2011
Trip End Jul 14, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, September 16, 2011

Hiya! It's Fran today! Sorry it's taken me a while to update our travels on the blog... If I'm honest it's because I've been really naughty and have been reading Pride and Prejudice in all of my spare time... I'm really enjoying it but have torn myself away to give you all an update! Lol x

I've written this in parts because we want to drop the pins on the map to show where we stayed, and haven't figured out if it's possible to drop multiple pins in one blog! 

In Queenstown, we planned to walk the famous 3-day Routeburn Track to Milford which we put on our wedding list. Jon & Laura, Ferd & Annie, Darrell & Amy and Scouse all kindly bought this for us for our wedding present. When we went to book the walk, the bad weather meant that the route status was: "deep snow and high avalanche risk". Because the track is exposed and dangerous in bad weather we had to think about our safety first and had no choice but to bail out... Really disappointing! :0(

Although we were gutted, we wanted to do something truly awesome in it's place, so we're planning to make our way up to the Franz Josef Glacier to do a guided hike in the beautiful glaciers next week... Watch this space!

On Thursday 15th Sep, Andy and I had planned to go for a 4 hr walk around the mountains before we set off for Te Anau, but it took a little while for Andy to post the bungy blog and to pack up our things in the camp, so instead we went into town to the i-site to get info on other smaller walks. We decided to do the Queenstown Hill Summit Walk, which was a 2.5 hr round trip reaching 907 meters at the summit. At the risk of sounding 'old' it seems that we're now at an age where walking is actually a great activity to do! We really enjoyed the hike and the views from the top were absolutely stunning. We were lucky with the weather as well, the skies had cleared up and, as you can see from the pics, this meant that we could see for miles around at the summit of the mountain, across Queenstown itself and The Remarkables on the other side. This might sound weird but I've actually missed running and exercising in the gym, so this hike was so much fun as it was a bit of semi-strenuous exercise and I felt it the next day - happy days!

Our reward for the hike was an infamous Queenstown Fergburger. Everyone who goes to Queenstown goes to Fergburger, so we went there and Andy went for the biggest thing on the menu... The Big Al! It was about as big as my face... I'm not sure if the pic does it justice! Haha! We even saw some England Rugby players in there too getting their dose of protein from the Ferg (Tom Palmer for one).

With a little bit of sadness, we said goodbye to Queenstown and got on the road to Te Anau. We thought Queenstown had it all... The natural beauty, the social scene with loads of great restaurants/bars, as well as the fun activities on offer - really pleased we came here! But there's so much more of NZ to see so we'd better crack on!

The road to Te Anau was an absolutely stunning drive through The Remarkables (which Andy accidentally called The Ridiculous!). I know I won't do it justice, but seeing such a beautiful part of NZ made us realise why so many films are made here... You can't make this stuff up! 

On Friday, from Te Anau, we hired some snow chains and drove ourselves to Milford Sound through the most beautiful scenery so far. We started the day looking at the gorgeous Te Anau lake (which we woke up to opposite our camp), drove through flat plains, then through to the craggy and then snowy mountains on the Milford Road. On the way we stopped off to take in as much beauty as we could. The first stop off was Mirror Lake, where the water was almost still enough to get a perfect reflection. We then went to the Hollyford Valley Lookout which made us realise how high up we actually were!

We then entered the avalanche zone... No stopping on the roadside was allowed at all because of the avalanche risk-scary stuff!  We had to take it easy on the roads as well, as you can see from the pics, there was snow all around us. For want of another superlative, it was truly stunning scenery! We safely made our way down the snowy mountains to Milford Sound and grabbed a quick coffee before boarding The Milford Mariner for a 2 hr cruise around the Sound (which is actually a Fiord, just mis-named!). We finally found out what Paul's warning meant when he said 'watch out for the sandflies'. The little buggers were trying to bite Andy whilst we waited to board! I thought they were just midges, like in Sedgebrook! The cruise was lovely and we saw rainbows, waterfalls, seals, penguins and absolutely massive mountains around the boat.

On the way back we had a quick stop off to see The Chasm, a natural sculptured rock chasm made by the Cleddau River. I was really sleepy so had a snooze for the rest of the journey whilst Andy enjoyed maxing out Evelyn on the empty roads! They literally were empty... Andy saw 3 cars in 2 hours!

On Saturday, we were going to go back towards Milford Sound to walk from The Divide to the Key Summit, but we woke up to a cloudy day and the clouds were so low that they covered up the top of the mountains which meant that we wouldn't be able to see anything on the walk, so we decided instead to get on The Southern Scenic Route to The Catlins, on our way back to Dunedin for the England game on Sunday....

To be continued....

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