Picture Perfect Places

Hello again everyone. I have sooo much to share with you about our ongoing adventures around the South Island Of New Zealand. We sure have covered some miles.

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From Arrowtown, we headed north to Wanaka. By a stroke of luck, we took a wrong turn and headed through the Crown Ranges instead of the more conventional way around them. I’m so glad we did. The view of The Remarkables mountains that surround Queenstown are majestic, and it was here we saw the most lupins- huge great clumps of them. My only regret is that I didn’t stop to take photos.

The main thing I wanted to do in Wanaka was hike to Roy’s Peak. It sours 1578m high, and the view is spectacular. We were told it was a six hour return hike. Half an hour in, I thought I was going to collapse. The uphill hike is steep, relentless and unforgiving. Luckily the first half hour was the hardest part, and we made it to the top in two hours. The views are incredible, but you’ll want to be in shape to try this walk. If you can manage it so you are up there for sunrise or sunset, I’d highly recommend it. Unfortunately we were so tired from our adventures, we couldn’t get up early enough, and I really wish we had.

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On we drove to the Blue Pools. I had seen pictures, but the colour of the water over here is unbelievable. Unbelievably cold too, but just feast your eyes on the above pictures.

We headed for the West Coast and Glacier Country. I wanted to take a helicopter up on to one of the glaciers, but thank goodness we didn’t book it, because the weather was terrible. The cloud hung so low that we couldn’t see Fox Glacier at all, so we drove on to Franz Josef and wiled away the day in the campervan (Jarrad was trying to teach me to play poker. It was fruitless- I’m the worst player ever). In the afternoon, the cloud and rain eased off just enough for us to catch a glimpse of the glacier, but to see it from the air would have been a real treat.

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North we drove to Hokitika Gorge, whose waters are also that unwieldy glacial blue. We spent the rest of the day journeying inland along Arthur’s Pass. It actually leads across the country and back to Christchurch, but we went just over a third of the way to see the Ortira Viaduct and do a few of the walks.

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Next on the list was the Abel Tasman National Park, so we pulled over in Motueka for the night. I had found some photos of arched islands off Wharariki Beach, so in the morning we drove two hours north to check it out. The drive is not pleasant (a winding mountain road, followed by 40 minutes over gravel), and the beach is about a kilometre from the car park. The arched islands are pretty cool, but the real win for us was finding a fur seal in a cave at the top of the beach. When we came out of the cave, we found another one lying out on the beach. This one let us get within three metres of him, and probably would have let us get closer if we’d tried.

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Knowing we had a lot of road to cover, we pushed on to the National Park. Once again, it’s a steep gravel range to get into the park. There are plenty of lovely walks through the fern forests, and the beaches (with orange sand?!?) are the nicest we saw in New Zealand. But we are from the Gold Coast, Australia, home of the most incredible beaches, and I found this to be the most underwhelming of all our New Zealand experiences.

We spent the night in Picton, and spent the day driving back to Christchurch via Kaikoura. Our adventure is coming to an end, but hopefully I’ll have one last update for you all tomorrow.

Heidi xx

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