3 weeks Auckland to Christchurch. Part 2

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Jan 9th, 2019, 02:09 PM
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3 weeks Auckland to Christchurch. Part 2

Part 2:
Day6: up early to catch the 8:30 InterIsland ferry to Picton. We bought a lounge ticket for $20 that gave us $15 towards food on the ferry and gave us access to a guaranteed seat in a quiet lounge. I think this was good value as the ferry was crowded and we saw many people looking for free seats.
Directly after driving off the ferry we turned right at first round about to take the scenic Queen Charlotte drive from Picton to Havelock. Made several stops at overlooks. Warning...very windy for those that get car sick. In Havelock we had lunch at the Slip Inn. Thanks “Indian Couple “ for the suggestions.
In Nelson we stayed at Harris Hill cottages. Up a windy driveway to the top of a hill just before Nelson with amazing views. Our cottage “SunTop” was great. Small kitchen and washing machine. Clothes dried quickly in the wind. Rachel was a great host.
Day7: Able Tasman Park. We booked a boat and hike with Wilson’s. We drove 1 hour and 15 minutes to Kaiteriteri were we caught our boat at 10:30 a.m. We were dropped off at Tonga beach and hiked for 1 hour and 15 minutes back to Medlands beach. We were booked on the 3:10 boat back but decided to take the 1:50 boat up the coast and then back down so that we could see the park from the sea. Beautiful sunny day, gorgeous white sand beaches. 31 degrees.
Day 8. Nelson to Rapahoe. Scenic Hwy 6. Stopped at Buller gorge to stretch legs 45 min walk over swing bridge. Carried onto Westport and took Foul Bay road and 15 minute walk up to lighthouse.
drove down the coast road. Stopping at Punakaiki, pancake rocks for 40 minute walk. Stopped along coast to do other short walks out to ocean views. Stayed at Seaview motel. One block from beach and very clean large room.
Day 9: The weather was sunny this morning but supposed to rain in afternoon. We woke early and left by 6:30 a.m. arrived in Franz Josef by 9 a.m. decided to book a helicopter tour of the glaciers before the rain came. Helicopter-line 30 minute flight with stop on top of Franz Josef Glacier. We had sunshine and great views. Had lunch in Franz Josef and then drove to Fox Glacier to hike around lake Matheson. 1.5 hours before the weather changed.
At 3:30 we checked into our hotel. The Wedgewood lodge just as the rain started.
Day 10: It poured rain overnight. Cloudy this morning but supposed to clear up. Plan to hike up to the base of Fraz Josef Glacier this afternoon. Tomorrow we are off to Wanaka
To be Continued
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Jan 9th, 2019, 02:31 PM
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Suggestion: Instead of starting a new thread for each installment, it generally works better to add each new entry as a new post on the original Trip Report. That way folks don't have to jump from thread to thread . . .
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Jan 10th, 2019, 10:23 AM
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OK thanks for the tip Janis
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Jan 11th, 2019, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Suggestion: Instead of starting a new thread for each installment, it generally works better to add each new entry as a new post on the original Trip Report. That way folks don't have to jump from thread to thread . . .
Actually I dont agree -- I prefer when people break up their trips when it makes sense. Long threads can get unyieldly to read and follow.
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Jan 12th, 2019, 12:07 PM
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Part 3:
Day 10: We did the short hike up to the base of Franz Josef. It took about 45 minutes to the base. Amazing and sad to see the marker points where the Glacier used to be and how much it is receding. We ate lunch at the base hoping the sun would make an appearance and enhance the beautiful blue colour of the crevasses. After 1/2 an hour we decided to hike back as the weather was getting worse not better.
We walked around the town a bit then decided to back to our hotel. Dinner at Asian Tiiger tonight.
Chinese, Thai and Indian food. The noodle soup was a little bland but the lamb curry was excellent.

Day 11: Drive to Wanaka. We made several stops for photo ops along the way.
We stopped at the parking lot for the blue pools. We started the hike and after 1 km we came to the highway and parking along the side of the road. I guess we parked in the overflow parking. Oh well it was a pleasant walk in the forrest. The sand flies were quite bad here so we were glad that I had packed the repellant.
From the highway we walked downhill for about 20 minutes until we came to a swing bridge over the river. Maximum 10 people, so we waited our turn to cross. Then 25 meters after their is a second bridge over the pools. Many people picnicking and swimming as the day was hot and sunny.
On the hike back to the car I encountered one of my greatest pet peeves. When hiking my husband and I always hike single file on crowded pathways. Being in New Zealand we hike on the left. We literally ran into people who are hiking 2 or 3 across the trail and make no effort to move over. They expect us to step off the trail and let them pass 2 or 3 across. All of the offenders seemed to be in there 20,s to 40 age range.
Well Sorry, being an almost 60 year old Canadian I had had enough after the 2 nd person body checked me on the trail. I now continue to hike single file, if you are a parent holding a child’s hand I will move off the trail but if you are just a rude self entitled little snot I will stay my ground and shoulder check you back with a polite “ excuse me”. Personally I think they may need to add hiking etiquette signs at the beginning of the trails.
OK my rant is over.
The drive to Wanaka is beautiful. Reaching Wanaka we parked by the lakefront and went to the big Fig for lunch. Wanaka reminded us of the Okanagan lake region of B.C. People were boating and swimming. Many people picnicking on the grass. It has a real summer holiday vibe.
we then checked into the Wanaka Alpine apertment we had booked. They have tennis courts and a pool so we decided to go for a swim and relax for the afternoon.
Day 12: We woke to pure blue sky. The weather forecast was not promising after today so we decided to splurge and booked a 3 hour helicopter flight over the Southern Alps and Milford sound.
We booked with Aspiring Helicopters. It is a 25 minute drive to there site. Our pilot Nigel was awesome. We made 4 landings. Lake Lachnager, Milford sound, a beach on the coast and a snow landing right across from My Aspiring. The weather was perfect, the scenery incredible it was a pinch me moment. Sorry kids we are spending your inheritance and loving every minute of it.
I would highly recommend a helicopter tour if your budget can swing it.
Dinner at Kika was the perfect ending to an incredible day.
To be Continued. Next Queenstown then ate Anau
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Jan 12th, 2019, 12:25 PM
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Your comment about the tramping tracks piqued my curiosity - how were the crowds?

There was a time we'd have the Blue Pools walk entirely to ourselves, but sadly, NZ has been seriously discovered (especially by the Chinese, don't get me started...)

And good on you for spending your kids inheritance!

Last edited by Melnq8; Jan 12th, 2019 at 12:27 PM.
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Jan 12th, 2019, 07:34 PM
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The popular tracks, the Tongariro crossing, Punakaki, Wai o tapu, Able Tasman track, Franz Josef Glacier, lake Matheson the blue pools and all the hikes near Wanaka were busy. Parking lots over flowing. It was nice to stop at a few less known ones to hike in peace and quiet, well except for The cicadas.
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Jan 13th, 2019, 07:35 AM
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Yeah, I figured. I don't remember seeing (or even hearing) a cicada in NZ, but then again I usually travel well off season, so not in summer, when I assume they're out. I've seen plenty of NZ bees and wasps though!
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Jan 16th, 2019, 04:32 PM
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Part 4. Queenstown
Day 13: Drove from Wanaka towards Queenstown. The weather was overcast and threatening rain so we decided to stop off in Arrowtown for a stroll and lunch. The skies opened up and it started to pour while in Arrowtown. We had lunch at the Italian restaurant and it was very good. We then decided to visit the Felton Road winery because we were told it was only open on the weekends.
We Drove about 20 minutes stopped at the Great Meg gorge for a look and upon arriving at Fenton Winery found them closed. Oh well...
We stopped at Peregrine Winery on the way back to do a tasting and see the architecture. Then popped into Amisfield Winery to book lunch for the next day since we were driving right past.
Stopped at the Kawarau bridge to watch the bungee jumpers going off the bridge. No thank you!
Continued on to our hotel. The Rees hotel just 5 minutes outside of Queenstown.
Beautiful hotel and great location. They have a shuttle every hour into Queenstown so there was no need to drive in and hunt for parking.
That night we took the shuttle in for dinner at the Botswana Butchery. Pricey like all of New Zealand but excellent food. Walked around the town and shopped a bit.
Day 14: The next day we had abooking for the Shotover jet boat. We took the shuttle into town and they transfer you to the river base. This was lots of fun as the boat speeds through the narrow shotover canyon and it seems like you may go smashing into the rock sides but the boat is very manouverable.
Then back to walk around town some more.
That night we had reservations at Rata, supposedly the best restaurant in Queenstown. Beautiful setting but underwhelming from a food stand point.
Day15: woke up and walked the Frankton to Queenstown lakeside trail that went right in front of our hotel. Then off for lunch at Amisfield winery. Beautiful setting out on the patio with views of the Remarkable Mountains. We had the 3 course chef tasting menus that was plenty. No wine pairing because I was driving
Then back into town because I had a chiropractor appointment because I had put my back out while hiking at some point. Luckily this helped a lot because we were off to Milford sound the next day.
We had dinner at our hotel that night at The True South restaurant and it was excellent.
Day16: We were on the road by 6:30 am in hopes of beating the bus traffic going to Milford. This was a good call. We made good time to Te Anau, 2 hours and 15 minutes. We stopped at the Sandfly cafe for coffe and picked up a couple of sandwiches for lunch in Milford., We then took our time from there to Milford Sound. We stopped at the Mirror lakes, The Chasm, knobs flat for the washrooms, did part of the key summit hike which is part of the Routeburn track but turned around after an hour because we were concerned about making our boat time in Milford. As it turned out we could have finished it. Although we did have about a 20 minute wait at the Homer tunnel which is one way. Then it was very slow going the next 20 km in the tour bus Congo line down the windy road.
We cruised with Mitre cruises which I would highly recommend as their boats were smaller and not crowded like some of the larger boats that accommodate the tour busses. The cruise took 1 hour and 45 minutes. We had pure blue skies and moderate winds. Very rare for the rain forrest.
The drive back to Te Anau took 1.5 hours as most the busses and tourists had left by then.
We checked into The Fiordland Lakeview Apartments. Great place with kitchenettes right across the street form Lake Te Anau. Short walk into town for restaurants.
Day 17: I woke up with a terrible head cold. We walked into town and went to the Sandfly for breakfast. The food and coffee were awesome. We stopped by the grocery store to get some fruit and decongestants. The forecast had called for rain but so far it was sunny with cloudy periods. We decided to chill for the day and recouperate. Do some laundry, read and walk along the Lakeshore..
Tomorrow off to Lake Pukakai and Twizzle area.
To be Continued.
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