Wednesday, February 22, 2012

South Island Road Trip

Way back in July of 2011, my mom and Fred came for a visit to NZ. The vast majority of the visit was a road trip on the South Island.

We flew into Dunedin and drove south through the Catlins, past the southernmost end of the South Island, and into Bluff.

Day two was a drive from Bluff through Invercargill, and up into Fiordland (Fjordland, elsewhere). Some noteworthy coasts before getting into the edge of the fiords. It's rather amazing how fast out of nowhere the mountains appear that make up the fiords. Fun fact - they are all named as sounds, because the Euros that got there first misnamed them, due to what they were familiar with in the UK.

Day three was dedicated entirely to a cruise on Milford Sound, and the drive to and from Te Anau to get there. Some say it's the best drive in NZ. It's certainly not bad, and Shannon loved it because it has a one way tunnel with no stop lights in the winter. Strange one.

Take a look at the little boat by the waterfall. That's not a little boat.

Amazing cruise in the mist. Dolphins, seals, waterfalls, and blue-green water with cliffs that shoot straight up. Well worth the hype, especially since there was almost nobody on our boat. I hear it can be a mess in the summer. Be hardcore - go winter.

Day four was a quick trip from Te Anau to Queenstown. Queenstown itself is a lot like Vail in the village/upitty/take your money sense. Pretty enough town, nice being on the water, but not the best spot. Amazing stuff around it though. That bridge is where bungy jumping was invented.

Day five took us onward to the Wild West Coast, by way of Wanaka, which is just over the Crown Range Pass. I think I could lifestyle it in Wanaka. To be 40 minutes away, it's an entirely different world from Queenstown, and just as pretty. It was snowing/sleeting over the pass, so not a lot of photos. Past Wanaka, over the Haast Pass and up to Glacier Country, where we snuck in in a dusk visit to Fox Glacier. By the way, that one lane bridge is about 2k long, and on a major highway.

Day five was a much shorter day, as we all needed a break, and the weather was horrible, as it is wont to do on the west coast. We did swing through Franz Josef Glacier after navigating a traffic jam, where we got caught in a torrential thunderstorm about a 30 minute walk from the car. But we got really close to it. Sweet. Wound up in Hokitika for the night.

Day six, and the final day, ending in Christchurch via Arthurs Pass. We had concerns over snow, but it never became and issue - just some dust. Made for a pretty trip across, with a quick stop at Hokitika Gorge on the way out of town.

A great road trip, and great exposure to new parts of the country. If only there had been more time...

No comments: