NZ Part 2: The South Island

Trip Start Nov 03, 2009
Trip End Feb 06, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, November 23, 2009

  What amazing scenery in the south island. With a mixed bag of weather, we saw some spectacular sights and experienced some thrilling activities…

Meet the family in Christchurch!

We stayed with my third cousin (we think!) in Christchurch – thanks for looking after us Jenny and John! We enjoyed lots of wine and delicious food.

Road trip

With another heap of junk as a hire car we headed around the island visiting the following sights, staying at various motels along the way:

-          Arthur's Pass (hard to appreciate in thick cloud!)

-          Pancake rocks and blow holes in Punakaiki (we stayed in a lovely tavern, where Jez tasted the NZ beers)

-          Driving along the west coast, including seven mile beach

-          Okarito (we hiked through the bush to a great viewpoint across the lagoon)

-          Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers – what fantastic scenery! We experienced torrential rain and bright sunshine, so our time there included sitting in the glacial hot water pools and walking to the base of the Fox Glacier in the rain. A travelling highlight was a helicopter flight to the top of Franz Josef glacier; we landed on top of the snow-covered mountain in the sunshine – absolutely stunning!

-          Lake Matheson, where you can catch a glimpse of Mount Cook

-          Bruce Bay (where travellers write on pebbles – we made our mark of course

-          Lake Wanaka

-          Arrowtown – a lovely old town retaining much of its original character from the 1860s when it attracted a population of gold miners

-          Queenstown – fish & chips and a beer by the lakeside in the evening sun was bliss

-          Milford Sound – we were lucky enough to see Milford Sound (a fjord formed by a glacier creating a valley which was then flooded by the sea – if my geography is correct!) in all its glory when it wasn’t raining (it rains there 200 days a year with 8 metres of rain falling!) So we had great views of the mountain peaks as we sailed on the old fashioned boat – the Milford Mariner. We also spotted penguins and seals.

-          We drove across the south of the island making our way back to Christchurch via The Catlins along the 'southern scenic route’. The Catlins is a region that combines lush farmland, native forests and rugged bays with deserted beaches – beautiful. Whilst there we walked out to Slope Point – the South Island’s most southerly point, Purakaunui falls and Nugget Point.

-          Dunedin (founded by the Scottish – the first permanent European settlers) and the Otago Peninsula.

Adrenalin junkie

-          While in Queenstown (the adventure capital of the world) we enjoyed a jet boat ride across lake Wakatipu to the willow lined Kawarau river (lots of 360 spins) before heading up the narrower Shotover river, where your ears almost brush against the canyon! 

-          We went tandem hang gliding (my way of getting out of sky diving!) with Sky Trek - a breathtaking experience. We ran off the side of Coronet Peak (the highest mountain in Queenstown) and into the air just like a bird – as you’re horizontal it really does feel like you’re flying. The landing wasn’t quite as gentle as I’d imagined, we swooped down from such a height pretty quickly and suddenly! You’re in the air for 20 minutes so get to enjoy the great scenery below.

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