South Island, New Zealand, Day 8-14 of our Road Trip (Final South Island Blog)

Friday 8th October-Thursday 14th October 2010

Day 8- Friday 8th October- Queenstown

Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. The city is packed with tourists, particularly young back packers. The city is set in beautiful surroundings, with mountains all around and the beautiful lake Wakitipu. Queenstown is packed with café’s, bars, restaurants, shops and hotel’s.

Queenstown Waterfront

Queenstown Waterfront

We took a walk around the city this morning. We went to the Queenstown Gardens, which is based in the city. We saw people playing a game called Frisbee Golf. It is very similar to golf, except the Frisbee is the ball. This has been played in Queenstown since the 1980’s. You will all be disappointed or glad to hear that we didn’t do a bungee jump, like a lot of people do when they come to Queenstown. We were thinking about it, but when we went to find out the price, we decided we didn’t want to pay it ( $180 each £70). I’m not sure if I’d actually be able to bring myself to jump anyway.

We drove to a near by town, called Arrowtown, in the afternoon. Arrowtown is famous for it’s gold. In the 1980’s it attracted a massive amount of gold miners. Tourists still come to Arrowtown today to see if they can spot any gold along the river bank. We did a 40 minute walk along the riverbank and tried to see if we could spot any gold, but no gold for us! Arrowtown is a lovely town to visit. It has kept it’s history alive by keeping a lot of their old buildings. You feel like you have gone back in time.

The rain came pouring down in the early evening. We drove back to Queenstown and decided we would go to the cinema to watch ‘Dinner for Smucks’ starring Steve Carell in. It was extremely funny.

The rain didn’t stop. We slept in our camper in Queenstown tonight.

NOTE: Shower facilities in Queenstown found at the Event Centre swimming pool and Frankston Motor Camp.

Day 9- Saturday 9th October 2010

Today we drove on towards, Franz Joseph Glacier. If we wanted to put money into doing adventure activities, we would of stayed a few more days in Queenstown, but when you have been travelling for 8 months, you have to think about watching your money.

We took the World Heritage Highway to Franz Joseph. We stopped at the following places on the way:

  • Kawarau Bridge-The famous bridge that you can do a bungee jump off. When I went to stand on the bridge, I decided that I don’t think I’d be able to bring myself to actually jump.
Kawarua Bridge-Queenstown

Kawarua Bridge-Queenstown

  • Cromwell- We only stopped in Cromwell. We took a quick walk around looking at the shops in the town.
  • Wanaka- Wanaka is another beautiful town surrounded by mountains. We took a walk around the town and by the lake, then we drove 2km out of the town, to Mt Iron. We decided to do the 1 ½ climb up Mt Iron. It was fairly steep, but an easy climb for most. The view from the top is worth the climb. You get to see the shape of the lake and how it winds in and out. Also you get a great view of the mountains all around the lake. The name Mt Iron, simply comes from the fact that the shape of the Mount, looks like an Iron.
View from Mt Iron

View from Mt Iron

  • Blue Pools Bridge- We had to walk across two suspension bridges to get to the blue pools. The water is extremely pure because it is 100% melted ice water.
  • Fantail Falls- another beautiful waterfall on the way to Franz Joseph
Fantail Falls

Fantail Falls

  • Rock Slides just after Fantail Falls- I’m not sure what this area was called. There were loads of rock slides blocking the river, which created a roaring river.
Paul-Rock Slides

Paul-Rock Slides

  • Thunder Creek- A long narrow waterfall
Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls

  • Haast Beach- Hasst was a small town. We just stopped briefly at the beach.
Haast Beach

Haast Beach

  • Knights Point- A fantastic lookout, where we managed to catch the sun setting over the sea.
Knights Point

Knights Point

The drive to Franz Joseph was one of the best drives yet. There is so much to see, that we were stopping every 5 minutes. We arrived in Franc Joseph at about 10pm. It was just a small town, yet highly visited because of its Glacier. We went to sleep in our camper as soon as possible.

Day 10- Sunday 10th October 2010

We woke up this morning to extremely heavy rain, which is not unusual for Franz Joseph. Franz Joseph receives about 300,000 annual visitors, making it the busiest tourist stop on the west coast, supported completely by a Glacier.

Most people take a guided tour of the Glacier. This is the safest way to view the Glacier and it is advised that you only walk it on your own if you are experienced. We decided to just take a walk to view the Glacier, as it was extremely wet, also we were running short on time, as we only had 4 more days left on our car hire. We drove to near the Glacier, where we did a 30 minute walk to the view point of the Glacier. We were able to get a good view of it from here. There were several other walks to do, but we were already completely wet through. The Glacier is now retreating. It is melting faster than it is moving.

Franz Joseph Glacier

Franz Joseph Glacier

We drove on to Nelson this afternoon. We drove through Hokitika, Greymouth and we stopped in Punakaiki, to see the famous ‘Pancake Rocks’ and Blow Holes.

It was still pouring down with rain when we arrived in Punakaiki, but we still decided to get out and go and see the Pancake Rocks. There is an information center there, which is a great place to go first to learn a bit about the history of the formations. They were formed over 30 million years ago from fragments of skeletons and shells. These limestone rocks have been sculpted over the millennia by weak acidic rain, wind and sea water.

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

We saw a Weka bird just before we left the Pancake Rocks. This is a native bird to New Zealand, found mostly on the West Coast. They look similar to the Kiwi and can’t fly.

Weka Bird

Weka Bird

We continued our drive on to Nelson. We didn’t stop on the way, except a brief stop in Westport, as the rain was still really heavy. We arrived in Nelson at about 8pm.

Day 11- Monday 11th October 2010

Nelson is just about the most central place in New Zealand. It is o the shore of the Tasman Bay. It is a great location to place yourself, when discovering the North of the South Island. Today we drove along the coast from Nelson-Cape Farewell Spit. This is found in the northern tip of the South Island. We drove through the town of Motueka and also through part of the Tasman National Park.

When we got to the Farewell Spit, we walked along part of it. There are high sand dunes all along the spit. We took a walk up onto the sand dunes.

Paul on the Farewell Spit

Paul on the Farewell Spit

After spending about 1 hour walking around the spit we drove back towards Nelson. We stopped at Waikoropupu Springs on the way. This is the largest spring system in NZ, and one of the 100 top largest in the world. The water was so clear that you could see everything beneath it.

Pupu Springs

Pupu Springs

We stayed in Nelson again tonight.

Day 12- Tuesday 12th October 2010

Today we drove to Picton, which is another 1 hours drive from Nelson. Picton is in a fantastic location, near the Queen Charlotte Sound. A sound is a river valley flooded by the ocean.

We stopped at Cullen Point lookout in Havelock. This is one of the best places to view the sounds.

Cullen Point Lookout

Cullen Point Lookout

We did several walks in Picton. We did a 1 hour walk to Bobs bay and also a 1 hour walk to the harbour view lookout. The views from here reminded us of being on Phi Phi island, with such beautiful greenery and blue water.

Picton

Picton

We really liked Picton and its lay backed feel and gorgeous scenery. We drove on to Blenheim, which is a much more built up city about 30 minutes south of Picton. Then we drove on to Kaikoura, which is a great place to stay if travelling to Hamner Springs. It is just a small town by the sea.

Day 13- Wednesday 13th October 2010

This morning we took a look around Kaikoura and drove to a beautiful bay near the town, where we were able to see seals on the rocks. They are known as the New Zealand Fur Seal.

Fur Seals

Fur Seals

We drove on to Hamner Springs today. Unfortunately I’m in a rush to get this blog up, so i will have to fill you in on the rest later.

Day 14- Thursday 14th October 2010

We took our camper van back today. First of all we checked into the So Hotel in Christchurch, to get rid of our bags. There were no problems with the camper, it just took two minutes to get it looked over, then we walked back to our hotel.

We have really enjoyed travelling around the South Island. At first we didn’t know weather we would get to see the South Island as well, but we’re so glad that we did. The South Island is just stunning and it would have been such a shame to miss it out.

It was great to be back in a hotel. We didn’t realise how tired we were. The hotel was fantastic. It has everything you need. The room was small, but cosy. There was free Wifi, a gym, free Mac’s to use downstairs, restaurant and laundry facilities.

We stayed in Christchurch from 14th-18th October. We are now back in Auckland and we fly to Quito tomorrow (Thursday 21st October) afternoon. We can’t believe how fast time is going. We have just 6-7 weeks left now until we return to the UK.

We will up date you as soon as possible about our arrival in Quito,

Paul and Ruth :)

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