It was very windy in Christchurch this morning but we braved it and went to see the transitional cathedral.
Woke to grey skies but decided to head back up to Mount Cook for another look anyway. As we left Twizel the clouds began to thin and by the time we hit Lake Pukaki the top of Mount Cook was visible. Yay! The further up the valley we went the better it looked and by the time we parked the car to begin our tramp the sky was clear! If we could only have three sunny days on this trip this is definitely one we wanted.
Another delicious breakfast to start the day before we headed out of Queenstown. First stop was a gorge on the Kawarau River which is another LOTR location and probably the last one for the trip. We've been pretty light on with them, and I don't mean to freak anyone out, but as time goes by things change and believe it or not these movies were filmed 17 years ago! Of course mountains are still mountains but trees grow or fall down and the locations just aren't quite as recognisable as they once were.
Queenstown is a popular place and that means accommodation is hard to find. There isn't much in between backpackers and five star (at least not when you're booking two days before you arrive). Basically we had to upgrade or downgrade. We went with upgrade, booking a room at Chalet Queenstown. As far as we can tell, all that extra coin gets you a super comfy bed, a guided tour of the building, chilled water and wait for it... breakfast! Yes, that's right, a proper cooked breakfast just like they do in England! A great way to start the day.
Woke to the first cloudless sky we have seen since arriving in NZ. A quick walk down to Fraser's Beach on Lake Manapouri for some photos, then we headed north.
Off the main road, forty kilometres of unsealed road and waiting for a mob of cattle to change paddocks, saw us at Mavora Lakes.
Up early this morning for our trip to Doubtful Sound. Why Doubtful Sound? For the simple reason that I had already been to Milford Sound. Once upon a time a trip to Doubtful Sound meant an overnight cruise, these days it's a half-day trip from Manapouri.
Up early to escape, I mean depart, Stewart Island. Na, it wasn't so bad, just a bit claustrophobic for a couple of gals from the wide brown land. Anyway, we boarded the ferry and set sail for the mainland packed to capacity. (See, we weren't the only ones keen to make a break for it.)
Woke this morning to squalling wind and rain. Whilst not entirely desirable for a sea voyage, I don't suppose one can venture into the heart of the 'Roaring Forties' and expect it not to be a bit breezy.
After turning the car around on the roof of a doctor's surgery, we headed south out of Dunedin this morning with no real plan but to get to Invercargill via The Catlins.
Bit of a slow start this morning but we did manage to book the next four days of accommodation and activities, jam-packed of course. With that sorted, we headed for the Otago Museum. First up we saw some of Edmund Hillary's personal possessions, including his ice axe, camera and gloves. After that we probably should've been in the local history section but inevitably found ourselves drawn to the natural history galleries. We checked out the living rainforest which was full of butterflies, the plesiosaur fossil which was discovered nearby, and the moa skeletons.
Today began with a question. What do you do when the attraction you want to see in town doesn't open until 10:00am and the one thirty kilometres down the road to your next destination needs to be seen at 8:00am?
The answer is simple. You get up early you drive half an hour to see the Moeraki Boulders at low tide and have the beach pretty much to yourself then you turn around and go back to Oamaru in time to walk in the door as Steampunk HQ opens. So that's what we did.
Today was a travelling day. For our last morning in Kaikoura we went for one last look at the seal colony and then headed up to the lookout. There was definitely more blue in the sky and we could see the bottom of the mountains but the snow-caps remained shrouded in mist just peeking through enough to let us know they were there.
Woke up to grey skies, the sound of rain and the question of whether or not we'd be able to go whale watching today. As this was pretty much the whole reason we came to Kaikoura we hoped we would. Rain we figured wouldn't be a deterrent, after all a whale's not gonna care about getting wet, but we weren't sure about sea conditions with a strong southerly predicted.
A quick stop at the Jubilee Clock Tower on the way out of Christchurch, then we headed north. This morning it was overcast and by the time we reached our first destination of Ashley Estuary it was raining. We braved it and managed to spot a couple of lifers, and endemics to boot; South Island Pied Oystercatcher and Black-fronted Tern.
Up at 7:45am to pick up our hire car. Needless to say, I was super keen to get a set of keys in my hand, there's nothing like the freedom of a road trip!
Well the day has finally arrived, here we go again! Up at 5:00am to catch the 6:45am bus. Unlike last time we took the coach, this time it was packed full, which meant we had to sit on opposite sides of the aisle next to random people. Probably not the most exciting detail to share but on a travelling day I expect (or maybe hope) it will be the most exciting one.