A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand March 14 2013

Day 22 - Te Anou

semi-overcast 17 °C

A bit of variety today. After learning that a new pope had been elected, we commenced with a team walk down to the jetty on Lake Te Anou just across from our hotel. Cruise across the western side of the lake to the Glowworm Caves. The caves are part of a 6.5 km, four level limestone system known as the Aurora Cave system. It is unusual because it has a very aggressive stream flowing through it and hence is growing in size. There isn't the sort of stalagmites or stalagmites found in older limestone caves so the Tunnel Burn (river) and glow worms are what they promote. Interesting being that far underground floating across a little lake in silence and in pitch black (apart from the star like glow of the fire flies above). Just a little too eerie for some!

Lunch in Te Anau before we again hit the road. Heading SE through the rolling slopes of cattle, sheep and deer farming country. We run along the Hokonui Hills and visited Gore, sister city to Tamworth and Country Music capital of NZ. Country music?? They have a giant brown trout and claim to be the world centre of same. Apparently it is a very low key festival.

The highway from Gore to Clinton has been officially titled the Presidential Highway. We saw the sign! Reputably there is another road to Clinton called the 'Lewinsky' - but that is another 'route'!! Boom Boom!!

We continued across to Balclutha before we again swung north up through Milton and Mosgiel and into Dunedin. A short time to have a quick walk around the streets of this historic (Scottish) university town before we settled in for another in-house banquet dinner. Known as the Edinburgh of the South - apparently Dunedin equates to the Gallic word for Edinburgh. University of Otago Student pranks keep the gendarmes busy. Home of the Dunedin Student Riots a couple of years ago. Latest stunt is couch burning. Most student rental houses have an old lounge out front for 'meditation' - of late the fire brigade has been complaining about call outs for couch fires! Hotel/Casino is very central. Hurricane rugby team and junior Fijians staying with us.

Posted by suengarry 20:27 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand March 13 2013

Milford Sound

sunny 19 °C

Another really big day today. Left Queenstown at 0830 for the run to Te Anou and Milford Sound. Along the south-eastern coast of the huge Lake Wakatipu into the valley between the Eyr and Garvie Mountains and out into the deer, beef and dairy farming areas of the Mataura River plains and then turning to the west through the majestic Eyr Mountains to Te Anau which was to be our overnight location. We had a quick lunch before hitting the road for the unbelievable run north along Lake Te Anou through the Earl Mountains up into the immense Darran Mountains through the Homer tunnel and down to Milford Sound. The cruise on Milford Sound was enjoyable but the helicopter flight through the ranges and up onto the ice field provided another trip highlight. A very happy but tired team jumped back on the coach for the run home to Te Anau and a magnificent three course dinner. How about a kilo of green-lipped mussels in tomato marinara as an entree?

Posted by suengarry 20:24 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand March 16 2013

Day 24 - Dunedin to Lake Tekapo

overcast 18 °C

Taken down to much photographed Dunedin Railway Station for a two hour ride north on The Seasider Train through spectacular coastal scenery to Palmerston. Rejoined the coach and called into the beach at Moeraki for an early lunch and a look at The Moeraki Boulders. It is quite amazing what you can convince tourists to look at/spend money on! But actually a fascinating geological phenomenon. On to the Historic town of Oamaru. About 36000 popn. Many buildings were built out of white stone quarried in the local area in mid 19 century and remain in pristine condition today. Big wide main street to cater for bullock teams. First frozen meat sent to UK from here and still a big abattoir town.

We then again turned westward to follow the mighty Waitaki River system through farming country. We continued to climb along Lake Waitaki, Lake Aviemore and Lake Benmore where we inspected one of the many hydroelectric generators based on this water system fed by glaciers in the Southern Alps. On through the quaintly named Twizel (built from scratch to house the hydroelectric scheme construction workers) to the edge of Lake Pukaki which is the largest lake in McKenzie country - a massive glacier carved valley of grazing country between the ranges. Discovered by a sheep drover turned rustler James MacKenzie (note the different spelling) who reputedly finished up in Aus. after escaping from gaol.

Boarded an Air Safari turbo-prop for a 50 minute flight up into the Southern Alps. Flew over all the main glacial features: Tasman, Franz Josef, Fox, Godley and Murchison Glaciers; Mt Tasman and Mt Cook/Aoraki.

Back on coach for run into Lake Tekapo and our home for two nights in the impressive Peppers Bluewater Resort.

Posted by suengarry 20:21 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand March 12 2013

Day 20 - Tuesfay March 12 - Queenstown

sunny 26 °C

Today's blog is all about Garry!!

" I have always claimed that I was born to be rich and to fly!
My father was a blacksmith and I married for love - not money - so that kind of fixed the first dream AND
I chose to play sports that did not require a lot of expensive equipment so between the first and the second that kind of fixed the second dream!!

But after today......

How much money do you really need?? Just enough to do what I did today!!

After breakfast I caught the chairlift to the top of Skyline and then climbed to 2980 metres to the take off for a tandem paraglide. Unreal. Flew out over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu before landing on the oval of Queenstown Primary School (as planned!!). I think I will have to give up golf and spend sometime out at the Godfrey Innis flying school. It is such a peaceful, quiet way to fly. "

Caught the bus out to Arrowtown - an old gold mining town. As expected it is now just an excuse to take as much 'gold' from the tourists as quickly as possible because once bitten you will not return. Stayed just long enough to have lunch before hot tailing it back to Queenstown.

Back up Skyline again to 'support' Margy on the luge ride. A fun ride around the base of the Skyline complex on a steerable sled.

What a day and we haven't even had dinner yet!

Posted by suengarry 01:41 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown Comments (0)

New Zealand March 11 2013

Day 19 - Tuesday - Queenstown

sunny 27 °C

A very relaxing start today with a sleep in and breakfast at the St Moritz before riding the shuttle out to the Shotover River Canyon for our much vamped jet boat ride. It lived up to all expectations and was great value for money.

Returned to Queenstown for lunch. Beautiful sunny day and people of all ages were making the most of it around the lake and in the parks. Went for a stroll into the picture perfect Queenstown gardens. Watched a few holes of frisbee golf and then back through the shopping precinct to our hotel.

Dinner was a Scenic option we chose the buffet up at the top of the chairlift. Great ride- much steeper than Cape Town. Great views over the city and up into the surrounding valleys as the sun went down. Watched the rest of the family steam across the bay in the 100 year old coal burning steamer for a farm experience and "traditional" lamb roast buffet dinner. We walked back home from the base of the chairlift and tucked up in bed long before they returned at 9:45. Our buffet had a good range of options including, fresh and cooked seafood, salads, roasts with veggies, Asian etc. Good value for the 'hogs' but certainly not fine dining......more like Restaurant 83.

Posted by suengarry 15:34 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown Comments (0)

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