Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Mt John, Tekapo

Hi there

Harking back to My Big South Island Road Trip ...  I drove from Queenstown to Lake Tekapo, stopping off for a few hours at Mt Cook Village.  Looking back, I think I would have liked to stay for a few nights at Mt Cook.  There were some nice walking tracks and also a couple of good tours.

At Tekapo, I had an en suite unit at the  Holiday Park.  I stayed there because it was right on the edge of the lake where I could swim. For anyone's information, the Park was also about a couple of 100 metres from the hot pools.

On one day at Tekapo, I decided I would drive up to the top of Mt John.  There is an observatory there and on a cloudless night it is one of the clearest views of the night sky in the world.

I figured the daytime ascent would be a piece of cake.  But, oh my goodness, the drive was horrendous, hugging the side of the mountain, winding around and around, for what seemed like hours, but in reality was probably only about fifteen minutes.  I was so scared.  As I got higher and higher, the land at the foot of the mountain became so far away, so tiny, so Lilliputian, and the road was ultra-narrow.  None of the photos I took truly depict how far it is to the bottom of the mountain.

I had contemplated walking up the mountain (the hiking track was on the opposite side of the mountain to where the driving road was) and I wish now that I had done this instead.

At the top, there is a cafe, and I had quite a nice panini and a smoothie.  But, oh dear, there was a moth in my smoothie.  The cafe is open at night for the tourists to the observatory and I guess this moth had stayed behind.  I felt so silly going up to the counter with the (almost) classic line, "There's a moth in my smoothie.."  I fully expected the assistant to say something like, "So, do you want us to teach it the back-stroke?"  Do folk still tell the "there's a fly in my soup" jokes?

The staff got into a huddle and suspicious looks were cast over their shoulders at me.  I think that they may have thought I had smuggled in the moth inside my handbag.  Sigh, no way would a moth fly out of my handbag -  I open my handbag far too frequently for moths to breed in there!  I did get a refund.

below:  "Lord of the Rings" (ish) scenery at Mt Cook (this is the area where many scenes were filmed for the movie).

below:  "There's a moth in my smoothie!"

below:  pre-moth

below:  view from the top of Mt John, Tekapo

Friday, February 24, 2017

South Island trip, New Zealand

Hi there

Right, I'm back online, so let's get with some of the photos of My Big South Island Road Trip.

I took my Kindle Fire and my phone with me, neither of which took very good photos.  I forgot my camera.

I hired a car in Queenstown and I told the company that I didn't want an upgrade to a bigger car, so I ended up with their smallest car which coincidentally happened to be the same brand as my own car.  I drove the car from Queenstown to Mt Cook Village, to Lake Tekapo, to Christchurch.

On the day I was driving the route from Queenstown to Mt Cook, was the day Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon arrived in that area for filming "A Wrinkle in Time".   Our paths didn't coincide!

Here's a pic of Queenstown from the top of the gondola.

Below.  The foot of the Southern Alps.  Taken from Mt Cook Village.  I went an hour long walk.

Below: the famous church at the edge of Lake Tekapo

Such beautiful blue water in Lake Tekapo.  This picture still doesnt do the colour justice.
Below:  Guess who?  Okay, it's me!  The statue is a famous sheepdog that represents the hardworking sheepdogs in McKenzie Country (Canterbury)

Below:  Mt Cook, tallest mountain in New Zealand.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Swimming in the South Island

Hi there
My computer is still not allowing me to get into the web so, again, I am one-fingering this entry on my Kindle Fire.  I'll have to call in a guy.  When I rang my service provider, I couldn't understand a word the help desk guy was saying -he was speaking computer-eese.

I got fine weather every day on My Big South Island Road Trip.  It only rained at night.  And talking about wetness (notice my clever segue there...?),  wherever I went swimming on my holiday the water was really really cold!

I swam in the sea at the Abel Tasman National Park (cold, but not too cold), Cleopatra's Pool (colder) Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown (so very cold), Lake Tekapo (freezing, it's a glacier-fed lake).

At all places, I obeyed the 2-minute swimming rule which decrees that after you  jump in, don't scream at the cold followed instantly by running  out of the water.  University boffins have decreed that it takes two minutes for your body to acclimatise.  So, in the really cold lakes, I managed about ten minutes. And, I'm telling you, my four readers, it was ... hell!!!

By contrast, when I got back to Hataitai Beach, it was like swimming in a warm bath.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Home Again!

Hi there

I got back home yesterday afternoon.  What a tiring time.  Driving my hire car through so many lonely twisty gorges  and passes...  From Queenstown to Lake Tekapo I hardly saw another car.  I had been so scared that I would meet up with a tired international tourist driving on the wrong side of the road.

 There were terrible bush fires in Christchurch and I had to pass near them.  So sad for the people living in the vicinity.

 For four days, i was so scared about being in a strange car and having to be alert every second.  But the car seats were so gorgeously comfortable, I wanted to buy a new car, same model, the minute I got home.
At home, I discovered that I can't access the net on my main computer, I cant fill my blog with witty anecdotes or fantastic photos (not that I know how to tell witty anecdotes and most of the photos I take are hopeless).

So, here I am, one-fingering on my Kindle Fire. Sorry.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Hi there

Well, I've reached Lake Tekapo in My Great South Island Road Trip.  See above.

Yesterday, I spent time at Mt Cook/Aorangi.  I had been intending to go on a nice long Sound of Music sort of wander among the mountains but when I got up close to them, when I was actually standing with my feet planted solidly on the bottom of the Southern Alps mountain range, and looked upward, I decided against it.  Those mountains were just so darn big, tall, ferocious, scary!  So easy to get lost.

So, I went on a nice little hour's walk on a well-used track next to the Hermitage Hotel instead.  Wuss!

I had a nice buffet lunch at the hotel with the most magnificent view of snow-capped Mt Cook/Aorangi (N Z's highest mountain).  The drive off the main highway to get to Mt Cook Village is supposed to take about 40 minutes but with everybody (including me) stopping every 500 or so metres to take photos, it takes longer.  The best view, of course,  is close-up at Mt Cook Village.

I had a lovely swim in Lake Tekapo yesterday.  I cant get over the gorgeous blue colour of the water.

Above: the first From-a-distance shot of Mt Cook/Aorangi.  I couldn't see my Kindle Fire screen because of sun so I could only point and hope!  I wish I hadn't forgotten my camera...

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Hi there

I've reached Queenstown on My Great South Island Road Trip.  I am sitting in a (Mc)Cafe and I have just finished two (two!!) Large caramel sundaes.  I am so tired and hot that I just wanted to jump into the sundaes.  I have walked along the Queenstown-Frankton track in 26c heat.  It was terrible walking the last ten minutes up a hill road - I was at the end of my tether, thirsty, grumpy, hot, worn out.

Talking about cafes, do my four readers remember when we used to get great ice cream sundaes?  Like a peach Melba or a Banana Split?  They seemed to have disappeared.  Take up too much time to make, I guess. In Las Vegas, at Gordon Ramsay's pub I had a knickerbocker glory.   I've never ever seen one in New Zealand.

View from my Queenstown rented holiday home:

Above: taken on the Queenstown-Frankton track.  That's the Hilton Hotel far right.  It's hard to take pictures with my Kindle Fire when, because of the sun, I cant see the screen.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Abel Tasman National Park

Hi there

I've just been a week down the Abel Tasman National Park, at the top of the South Island.  I swam and hiked every day.

About an hour out of Torrent Bay, where I had rented a holiday house, and hiking through beautiful bushland, one comes across Cleopatra's Pool.  It's a pool at the bottom of a little waterfall and there is a natural slide down through the waterfall and into the pool.  However, for a couple of minutes, there are loads of boulders to scramble over to get to the pool.  I managed getting to the pool okay but leaving it, I slipped and smashed my hand  against a boulder.  I sprained my thumb.  Within seconds my thumb and the pillow underneath it were ultra-swollen.  And oh-so painful.  Still, no sprained thumb was going to get me down.

Within one hour of my leaving to hike back to Torrent Bay where I was staying, a helicopter had winched up an injured hiker who hadnt been successful clambering over the rocks.  Apparently there are several injuries every few weeks.   I realise now that I should have plodded through the puddles and streams, and little rock pools, rather than trying to emulate a mountain goat, leaping over the boulders.

I love Anchorage Bay and Bark Bay.  I hiked every day to various places.  There are loads of tourists walking the track.  Some catch a boat from Kaiteriteri and just walk for a day, or just a few hours.  Others hike for a week.

Here's a bush track.
 Here's low tide, Torrent Bay
 Here's Kaiteriteri, the jumping off place for catching a sight-seeing boat around Abel Tasman National Park.
I only took my phone with me so the photos arent that great, sorry.

Now I'm offf to complete the rest of My Great South Island Road Trip.....