Posts Tagged With: South Island

Misty Milford Sound

The drive to Milford Sound started too early, but I’m glad we didn’t have to skip this incredible place!  It’s probably one of the most remote places on the South Island, or the world for that matter, but it is a huge tourist attraction.  We were about to see why.  We drove along lake Wakatipu for most of the morning, before turning off and heading to Te Anau where we got to grab some stuff for lunch from the supermarket, along with some snacks and treats ad the last WiFi (gasp) before heading over the mountain pass to Milford Sound.

The drive through Fiordland National Park would take us through some serious Sound of Music territory, with snowy-capped mountains, misty waterfalls and lush greenery at every turn. We worked our way through the valley to the Homer Tunnel, stopping for spoke very aptly named Mirror Lakes, two small lakes that reflected the mountains above perfectly in their waters.  Then we started to see some real snow outside, and prepared to go through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2 km long tunnel that connects Milford Sound to the outside world.  We made it through the darkness of the tunnel without mishap and were greeted with more snowy mountain views and waterfalls as we drove in the rain to our next destination: the Milford Sound Nature Cruise!  We got to actually go out on the water in this gorgeous tour boat and see the natural wonders of the area that make it so famous!  Unfortunately Mitre’s Peak was obscured by clouds, but we did get to see tons of waterfalls that only form when it rains, so I GUESS there was a plus to all the rain we had 😦

I wasn’t too happy on the boat after an hour, we reached the ocean and weren’t sheltered by the sound anymore, but quickly turned around again and had some penguin sightings, no dolphin sightings, though!  Lunch was on the boat, and we were ready after a long day of travelling and sightseeing to go back to our accommodations and settle in for our last night.  We had a few free hours to hang out and explore in the rain if we wanted to (not), and then got dinner at the ONLY restaurant in Milford Sound, which is not really a town so nobody actually is a permanent resident in it, besides the people who work and make a living there. Talk about remote!  That didn’t stop dinner from being excellent, however, and we were all very satisfied but found ourselves with nothing to do when we got back to our accommodations! There was a big cosy common room, so we did eventually find some games to play and enough to do until bedtime.  It kind of sucked that we couldn’t go out and celebrate on our last night or even have a glass of wine, but I wasn’t exactly in party mode at this point, I was so close to being back in Canada it was hard to stay in the moment and keep enjoying my last few days abroad! And besides. I won at Scattergories. Who needs booze? 😛

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Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What does the Fox (Glacier) say???

My morning began late – I got to sleep in cause my Glacier walk didn’t start until ten am.  A van took us up to the terminal face of the Fox Glacier and we hiked up to check out the views. Others on the trip opted for a much tougher half-day hike but I didn’t take part.  I’m from Canada, people.  It’s snow and ice. Big whoop. Actually it was pretty majestic to see the glacier cascading from the cliffs, we got to see lots from our viewpoint, so I was happy with that.  Lunch at the glacier chalet was delicious, but after that our trip got thrown off the rails and kept going that way for the rest of our time together. It wasnt necessarily a bad thing – we still got to see and do everything we were promised, but there was no sticking to the itinerary, that’s for sure!

Let me explain first.  The roads through the mountains are subject to inclement weather and the only road through the mountains to Queenstown was closed half an hour after we left the town of Fox Glacier. Unfortunately there was no cell service to let us know that, so when we got to Haast Pass, we had to turn around and go back the way we came!  It was unfortunate but out trusty guides let us know we would still (eventually) get to our destination, but it would be the long way round.  We backtracked all day on the bus, stopping quickly for dinner in Hokitika (now a ghost town after 5pm) and watched movies on the bus until late in the evening when we finally arrived BACK in Christchurch for the evening.  There was nothing to do/nothing open so it was an early night, in preparation for the long drive ahead of us the next day.

Luckily our drive was broken up by some pleasant stops as we took an alternate route to Queenstown.  First up was morning tea and a tour at Morelea Farm, a sheep farm run by a lovely couple who explained to us the finer points of sheep farming and how their thousand hectare farm operates  I got to feed a little lamby!! It ALMOST made me feel bad about how much I love lamb.  Lol.  We also got to see how the sheepdogs round-up the sheep for the farmers, and how a sheep is sheared.  it was a really informative visit, and I’m glad it was included in our trip because we pass so many farms along the way on our travels and gave me insight into a subject I don’t know too much about.  I am now a sheep farming expert!

There were a few more stops that afternoon, lunch was at Lake Tikapo where I caught my whole family on the phone while they were having Thanksgiving dinner.  It was so nice to talk to everyone!  I loved reconnecting with them, and it made me a wee bit homesick.  I was determined to enjoy the rest of my time in NZ, though, and chatted with my lovely bus buddy Andrew (from Ireland) alllll the long way to Queenstown.  We rolled in a few hours before dinner, and had some time to settle into our apartment style suites before eating at at the world-famous Winnie’s bar.  They stuffed us with pizza and garlic bread and salad until we were groaning, and then we got to have a special treat – a trip to an Ice Bar, where everything is made of ice, including the drink glasses!

It was fun to suit up in the excellent winter coats and gloves provided for us, and look at all the cool sculptures and features carved into this bar made entirely of ice.  They even had an ice air hockey table and an ice photo booth!  We all took WAY too many photos and had a great time sampling ice shots and yum drinks as well. We only left when our hands were frozen to our glasses and our shoes were wet. haha!  it was a great way to end a long day of driving, I’ve always wanted to visit an ice bar, now I can cross that off my list as well!

 

Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Long Drives and Great New Zealand Views

We’ve had a long couple of travel days that were broken up by some sweet sites as we make our way down the coast on the South Island, our first short stop was at Oahu Point to see some smelly seals!  There were over a hundred seals just hanging out below us, frolicking in the waves and mini pools, fighting, playing and generally just looking like a big ol family.  They kind of smelled, but hey what do you expect from some animals that hang out eating fish all day? After we had our fill of snapping pics of the seals, our next stop was Kaikoura, a small town overshadowed by huge rocky snowy mountains and a pebble beach.  We had a couple of hours to kill in this lil place, so we shopped and looked around and ate a delicious lunch of Thai food (very authentic NZ, I know).  There were opportunities for some people to go whale watching and dolphin watching, but most of us opted to take a hike along the peninsular walk to spot some more seals and wildlife along the way.  it was a great way to stretch our legs, and there were definitely some hilarious moments as it had rained and the slippery paths made for some spectacular falls as well!  After lunch we entertained each other with funny videos on the bus (cat massage, anyone?  a little prancercise, perhaps?), getting into Christchurch early that evening.  it’s kind of frustrating that I would be there three times over the next week and a half, without really getting to see any of the city. Boo 😦  We stayed in a hotel in the suburbs, the city was shook by a devastating earthquake in 2011 and the downtown has yet to be fully rebuilt.  Our place was very cosy, and the beds were luxurious, perfect for a long lovely sleep!

 

 

Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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