Day 16, 17 – Te Anau and Doubtful Sound

So, on we go. A fairly uneventful trip through to Te Anau through pleasant and productive farmlands in a valley that just kept opening out before us. We stopped for lunch where it happened a farmer moved a flock of 4200 sheep across the road. Norma was very impressed so she shot about 30 photos of them:


Stopped at Te Anau and did our laundry and some shopping and updated the blog – hope you’re enjoying it. Then down to Manapouri where we camped at a POP.

Friday we did an all day trip to Doubtful Sound –

Boat trip across Lake Manapouri to where the biggest Hydro Electric power station in NZ is which supplies power of the Aluminium works at Bluff.

Then it was a bus over Willmot Pass to Doubtful sound. This road was put in to transport the equipment up to the power station when it was being built. We’re talking really remote and rugged country here – cost of the 22klm road was $2 cm back in 1967.

Doubtful sound was glorious, it was raining and the clouds were low which is how you want to see it because all the waterfalls are in full flow which is really what you go for, the clouds also giving it an amazing atmosphere, and the stupendous scenery – take your pick.

larry-norma-doubtful.jpg  waterfalls1.jpg waterfalls2.jpg waterfalls3.jpg waterfalls4.jpg

This all in the largest Scenic Reserve in NZ which means no private dwellings above high water. An intrepid cray fisherman had beaten that rule 30 years ago by building this out on poles from this glorious little island. That’s a helipad behind the boat and all on tanelized pine poles. They’ve closed that loophole now but this is now heritaged I think.

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It really was a great day and finished off with a tour of the power station down a 2klm tunnel to the turbine room.

So that was a great day. The Map shows were are/stayed.



Day 15 – Glenorchy

Up early and back into town to the engineering shop and they were etremely helpful. Bracket would be ready in the afternoon.
So we headed for Glenorchy along Lake Whakatipu with The Remarkables in all their glorious splendour – they would have looked spectacular veiled in snow.


From Glenorchy we kept going as far as vehicles can go over gravel roads and through some lovely Beech forests. We then did a bit of a hike up through the pure native forest


This was straight out of ‘The Lord of The Rings’, altho we didn’t see any Ents.


The photoes dont do it justice, in fact none of them do because they don’t portray just how close everything is, like it feels like you could reach out and touch the mountains.

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Then it was back into Queenstown to pick up the bracket which I had fitted by 4.30pm and so we did a bit of shopping and headed south for Kingston at the head of Lake Wakatipu where we camped at the railway station of the Kingston Flyer which used to travel from here to Bluff but is now merely a tourist steam train that only travels 20klms down what’s left of the line.


Here’s where we’ve been today and are staying tonight:


Day 14 – To Queenstown

Well another perfect day. It started out good anyway until about 10 ks down the road to Queenstown the alternator snapped its bracket, shredded its belt and would have fallen on the road if not for the cabling 😦  I know I mentioned all this yesterday but bear with me.
It took me just a little while to figure the problem, then I disconnected it all and we headed for Queenstown where it was a public holiday so nothing was open; where was my mate Russell when I needed him :))

So there was nothing for it but to do the tourist thing , which we thorougly enjoyed. It certainly is a beautiful place albeit FULL of foreigners including a coupla Aussies.
We did the Bob’s Peak Gondola thing which really spectacular

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 and the Luge thing. Managed to get out in front and had a ball – satisfied my twisties crave for a while anyway.

Then we just lazed around town looking for batteries for the digital – should have bought the recharger because 2 sets of my rechargeables aren’t any good.
Camped out at Lake Wakatipu for the night.

We’ll head back into town early and visit a couple of engineering shops I’ve scoped out..

Days 11, 12 and 13 – Wanaka to Queenstown

Last time I posted (Easter Saturday) we’d just arrived in Wanaka which is a jewel of a town. There were people everywhere because the Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow was on. We spent the afternoon lazing around in town after a short execution west of Wanaka around the lake. That night we camped here:


Easter Sunday (Day 12) was a perfect day – no cloud, no wind – so headed for the Airshow. This is one of the big 4 airshows for warbirds in the world and displayed a huge range of aircraft from WW1 to the modern day and from all over the world, but especially WW1 and WW2. All going through their routines of aerobatics and flight control. Very impressive. There were thousands of people there but we got a position about 50mtrs from the runway and 100mtrs from the centre of action. I’d had a bit to do with some of these planes in my earlier skydiving days and I’ve always found aircraft quite facinating – the rich man’s motorcycle 🙂
We camped by the eastern shores of Lake Dunstall for the night.


Day 13, Easter Monday, dawned picture perfect again and we headed for Cromwell at the head of Lake Dunstall where the Motor Caravaning Association had just wrapped up its AGM with over 1000 motorhomes in attendance – so you can imagine, there’s motorhomes everywhere. We had a look around town and then had morning tea here:


Took in some more tourist attractions before turning west for Queenstown through the Kawarau Gorge which has some wonderful views. Stopped at a couple of places on the way, one being a bungy jump from an old suspension bridge over the gorge.
In the mid 1800s gold was discovered right throughout the west and southern regions of the south island and 1000s of people flocked to these areas. What fascinates me is the terrible terrain they travelled, the deprevation and hardship they endured, because just driving through here on modern roads is quite an experience. There is evidence of the gold strikes everywhere.
We stopped for a late lunch at Arrowtown which is another gold town of old and now a quaint tourist destination in the middle of the southern alps. After lunch had a read, a snooze, and look around town before haeding for Lake Hayes by a very round-a-bout route where we camped for the night. This is only 10klms from Arrowtown and we camped here:

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Tomorrow it’s Queenstown. We’re having a great time and really enjoying ourselves and each other.

Well, it’s now tomorrow and I’m in Queenstown doing this. We’ve got a bit of a problem with the van – the alternator bracket has broken off so we’ll have to wait around here untill tomorrow to get it fixed because today (Tuesday) is a public holiday, Otago Day or something. So hopefully I’ll find an engineering workshop that will weld the bracket up or have to make a new one. Hopefully.


Day 10 – Fox Glacier to Camerons Flat

It’s Good Friday so we celebrated Christ’s incredible sacrifice for us with pancakes, icecream, stewed apples and local honey. A breakfast fit for a King.


We then drove into Fox Glacier township and came across a couple on a 1950 Vincent 1000cc, had a great chat with them. He also had a Guzzi so it was nice to meet someone with impeccable taste :), they were on their way to Palmerston to a Vincent Rally. They needed to get there today, 400klms on these roads on that bike was a big ask but he didn’t seem fazzed, altho the bigends were giving some vibrations. Regretfully I never got a photo.
We then went up to the glacier; you can walk right up to this one and its pretty impressive and quite cold as you get close to it.

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From here it was south again through various bush vistas and outlooks, onto Haast and over the longest single lane bridge in NZ. Then it was up and over Haast Pass heading inland for Wanaka. We stopped for the night at a DOC Camp at Cameron Flats.
The sandflys are giving Norma a hard time; her delicated skin is just too much temptation for them so she’s got a fair few nasty bites. I’m to old and woody for them it appears, altho I do get bitten they don’t seem to bother me.
Its started to rain which is not a good omen. Tomorrow its down to Wanaka and the Warbirds Over Wanaka AirShow.

Here’s where we’ve been today and are staying tonight:


Day 9 – Greymouth to Fox Glacier

A bit slow to start today. Then we did some shopping and updated the BLOG (hope you’re enjoying it – you can leave a comment if you like), had a bit of a look around Greymouth where you don’t want to be living on the North side of the river. Fueled up as well – the truck is doing about 7klms/ltr.
THEN we headed for Hokitika which is a lovely little town at the mouth of yet another river; we had a late morning tea overlooking a treacherous looking bar.
From Hokitika we drove out to Lake Kanarie where my cousin Peter goes to ski. Seems like a darn long and hard drive to go water skiing, but then I suppose I travel some long distances to go diving or ride some decent twisties. Beautiful views overlooking this lake.


We stopped for lunch on the side of the road about 30klms north of Franz Joseph and beside a river that was flowing with the most opaque blue water you’ve ever seen. After lunch and immdeiately around the corner we came a cross this view –


Our first look at the Southern Alps – quite stunning and the photo doesn’t do it justice.
Next stopp was Franz Joseph Glacier. I’d thought we could do a flight over the two glaciers – Franz Joseph and Fox – and  Mt Cook. But at $350 each we decided we would give that a miss. So we drove up and hiked in a bit to get this shot – Norma, looking as gorgeous as ever and the glacier is impressive as well. There was a time when the glacier was virtually where I took this photo.

Went back into town and had a coffee, This is a real tourist place and is buzzing, a bit like a ski resort would be.
Headed south and turned off at Fox Glacier township and drove the 20klms out to Gillespies Beach of which 12klms was winding gravel road. Hardly worth the effort really but one must be able to say that one has camped on a Westland beach. The sandflys were as big as bees here.

Here’s where we’ve been today and are staying tonight:


Day 8 – Wednesday – To Greymouth

Headed for Westport along the Buller River Gorge. Absolutely stunning scenery. These falls are on a side stream and were created during and earthquake about 80 years ago.


Visited the longest swingbridge in NZ as well, and Norma wasn’t even scared.


Lunched at Westport which is a town at the mouth of the Buller River then followed the coast south towards Greymouth stopping at various sights on the way in cluding the Pancake Rocks.


We’re now camped at a Park Over Property in Greymouth which is another town at the mouth of a river. This place has showers and everything but costs $15 which is the first time we’ve paid for camping since starting.

Here’s where we’ve been today and are staying tonight:



Day 7 – Tuesday – Graham’s Creek to Kawaititi Junction

Decided to have a bath in fore mentioned stream. It was REALLY REALLY COLD


Headed for Nelson and did some shopping. Nelson is another beautiful little city.
From Nelson to Motueka and some delightful little bays before heading South and West.
Camped at an old rail siding half way to Westport. Like, this is in some serious mountainous country and there’s a railway siding there; hasn’t been used for 50 years but was part of a rail system that started back in 1895. Tough bunch these Kiwis.

Here ’tis.


Day 6 – Blenheim to Graham’s Creek

Spent the morning at cousin Peter’s place readying the van for the next stage of the journey.
On the way west we stopped off at a 1000 acre block Peter has 20% shares in that is mostly under pine trees.
We tramped to the top of a mountain to see them – this taken half way up after we’d driven 2/3 way up to here. The hike darn near killed Norma, and I wasn’t much better.


Said goodbye to Peter and Steph and headed west through Havelock (scene of the Mussel Festival of Saturday)
We stopped for the night beside a beautiful stream – this taken from the van.



Days 4 & 5 – Blenheim, Queens Charlotte Sound

What a fantastic place of the world.

On Saturday we had a great crossing of Cook Strait, virtually calm. It’s only a 3 hour trip.

After arriving in Picton, at the head of the Queens Charlotte Sound, we headed for Blenhein (27klms) and dropped in at my Dad’s brother’s wife, Joan. She took us through to Havelock to a Mussel festival (the second biggest industry in this part of the world apart from wine making, Marlborough wines are world famous apparently). Anyway, the mussel festival was really good with lots of free mussels.

From there we drove over the most wonderful twisty road to Picton and visited a cousin at the family batch (holiday house) which is literally right over the water at a place called Waikawa Bay in the Sounds. Spectacular views. From there it was back to Blenheim.

My other cousin, Peter, then arrived and we came around to his lovely place.

Yesterday (Sunday) we took there second ski boat back out to Picton and motored around to a delightful bay for a day of pinicing and skiing. Absolutley lovley.


I even got up on a knee board.


What a great day. Home for a barbque and chatted into the evening.

So today is another day and day 6 of our travels. We head off from here soon for Nelson and the West Coast.