Today we bid farewell to Rotorua and all of its burbling, steaming oddness and made our way to Tongariro. Fortunately, I had my trusty co-pilots and navigators with me.
As you can imagine, the drive was amazing. We were blessed with more sunshine so everything looked fantastic.
We stopped and Huka Falls which is easily accessible from the main road. These falls are a spectacular blue color and very fast moving.
After only a few hours we reached our accommodations at Tongariro National Park. We arrived a bit early so we were unable to check in right away. This afforded us the opportunity to go see the Tawhai Falls which were only a 20 minute trek off the highway. I carried my tripod and filters to take some long exposure shots of the falls.
We got ourselves checked into the hotel and found we had the most spectacular view of Mount Ngauruhoe, the mountain that was used for Mount Doom in the Lord Of The Rings movies.
Tonight we had dinner and are taking it easy as we prepare to drive to Wellington and on from there to the south island.
Today we woke up early to return our rental and catch the Interislander Ferry from Wellington on the North Island to Picton on the South Island. The whole process was pretty straightforward and soon we were underway.
The sky was overcast and there was some rain, but the 3 hour voyage was pleasant and uneventful. We sat with group of elderly Kiwis that were on holiday and they were great fun to talk to and they shared a wealth of information about New Zealand with us and the ferry ride passed quickly as a result.
We picked up our second rental car and proceeded to make our way to the next stop, Picton. The drive was very windy and took us along the sound and well up into the mountains. And though the skies were overcast, the views were quite spectacular
On the way to Picton we stopped in Havelock for lunch. Havelock is the green tipped mussel capital of the world and we ate at a place called the Mussel Pot.
For lunch we had the sampler plate for two that included mussels served in a variety of ways. It was all quite delicious.
While we were there we noticed there were a number of soldiers moving about. Turns out there was a joint military training exercise happening this week.
We made it to our hotel and got checked in. The weather is a bit gloomy, and we are not overly optimistic about tomorrow when we are scheduled to visit Abel Tasman National Park. We’ll see how it goes.
We were not holding out much hope for today as it the forecast called for rain and possibly hail. But when we woke up there was some sunshine and a patches of blue sky. We decided we would go for it and make the drive some 60 miles to Abel Tasman where we had a cruise and hike booked for the day.
We made our way to Kaiteriteri and checked in and quickly boarded our boat, a medium sized catamaran that would take us up the coast to a series of secluded bays.
We were scheduled to get of at Bark Bay and do some exploring, but the weather was still “iffy” so we opted to stay on the boat and just ride the route till we got back to the point of origin. We did see some nice things like a seal colony
And Split Apple Rock
We ended the cruise about mid-day and drove back to Nelson and explored a bit before having dinner.
Tomorrow we drive to Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks and the weather looks to be great.
Today the weather was as good as it gets. Cool temperatures and blazing blue skies. We drive from Nelson to Punakaiki via Westport and Cape Foulwind.
Heading west we drove along Buller Gorge which is a very scenic drive where we had the opportunity to stop by the longest swing bridge in New Zealand. Oddly enough, Cynthia was terrified of the bridge. Still, she managed to work up her courage and made the crossing and was very proud of herself.
From there we drove to Cape Foulwind, which was not as foul as the name might imply.
From there we drive a short distance to see the Seal Colony at Tauranga Bay
After enjoying these sites we continued down the coast to our final destination of the day, The Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.
Took some time to try my hand at some astrophotography. The Milky Way was setting soon after the sunset so it was low on the horizon. Not perfect, but I am happy for my first attempt.
Today started out pretty good, but the weather turned rainy as we made our way to Franz Josef Glacier. The drive was interesting, especially all the one lane bridges. This one also doubled as a train bridge.
(Photo by Cynthia)
We got checked in to the hotel and are taking the opportunity to do some laundry. The rain is falling steadily so it doesn’t look like we’ll get to see the glacier.
Sadly, The Fanz Josef and even the Fox Glacier were a bust. Rain was coming down pretty steady and it was just not conducive to making the trek out to see them. Even the helicopters were grounded. We had a long drive ahead of us and decided to make our way to our next destination which was Queenstown.
Despite the rain and gloom, there was still some amazing sites to see, especially the clouds and mist as it came over the mountains.
The rain did begin to subside as we moved on and we made a few stops along the way, like this one to see the Thunder Creek Falls
As we drove down the Haast River we had our first Lupin sighting
Our midpoint on this leg of the journey was Wanaka where I wanted to see the most photographed tree in New Zealand
We also saw some purple lupins, Cynthia’s favorite.
We then made our way up New Zealand’s highest sealed road, Crown Range Road which rises up to 3530 ft above sea level
We then descended into Queenstown just as the sky began to clear.
Also, today is Cynthia’s birthday. To celebrate we had dinner at an amazing restaurant called the Blue Kanu which serves food that mixes both Pacifica and Asian style, and blending the two cultures it aims to create a style and feel that they call “Polynasia”. Simply put, it was fantastic.
Tomorrow we explore Queenstown.
Today was ours to explore Queenstown. We had breakfast and went for a walk around Lake Wakatipu to take in the sites.
The weather was really nice so we opted to take a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw, a 1912 Edwardian vintage twin screw steamer. It was a beautiful boat and a wonderful experience to take in the sites of the lake from this vessel.
When we got back to Queenstown we had a nice lunch and then headed up to the Skyline Gondola to take in the views of the city and the lake from Bob’s Peak.
The ride up may have frightened Cynthia a wee bit…
Tomorrow we we have a relatively short drive to Te Anau which will be our launching point for the drive to Milford Sound.