Day 20 - Franz to Queenstown
Left Franz Joseph to journey towards Fox Glacier. The day was cool with low cloud. Another day of up and over hills with winding road and magnificent views of glacial streams. We passed over rocky riverbeds, through thick green forests and very high hills. Some were snow covered. Agricultural land in the valleys looked very marginal with trench drained paddocks and hedgerows and piles of either rock or decaying timber. A lot of the flattish country is old swamp so that practise humpin' n hollown' where they create mounds and trenches - not ideal for cropping but the animals dont mind.
Stopped at a salmon farm for coffee. This morning we passed over the point where the Pacific Plate meets the Tasman Plate. It was clearly defined by large slips and deep cuts in the scree slopes on both sides of a stream. New Zealand is a country of rocks and trees with the built environment running a very poor second to the magnificent landforms and varying greens of the subtropical forests.
We went on a jet boat on the Haast River. The boat maneuvered over very shallow water and submerged logs as well as doing 360 degree turns. Scenery was beautiful.
Mount Hooker looms 8000 ft over the Landsborough river which flows into the Haast River. Moved into the Otago Region, beautiful bare mountains dipping steeply into big blue lakes, mountains so high in contrast to the valleys. Very little vegetation in the dry intermountain valleys. Lunch at a little road cafe in between the Haast and Young Ranges.
Through the magnificent Haast Pass (Mt Brewster 2516m) and down to the NE end of the massive Lake Wanaka - talk about an inland sea! Then across to the mid-west edge of Lake Hawea, continued south to the lovely holiday town of Wanaka on the southern end of Lake Wanaka for afternoon tea and then onto more magnificent bare hills, deep rocky river beds and rapids of azure blue water.
Queenstown is very impressive. Our accommodation at the St Moritz is very luxurious with kitchenette, sitting room, washing machine / dryer, 2 TV's, and our outlook is a beautifully manicured garden with an outdoor setting and wooden garden seat. Dinner at another Irish Pub. We are impressed with the town. It has a very special feel, a little like Banff with high mountains surrounding a very tourist oriented town.