Sunday, 13 November 2016

Playing tourguide to Jen - Part 1



One of my oldest friends (oldest as we met in year 7 at school, not because she's old) came to visit 2 weeks ago and so I got to play tourguide for her tour of the South Island.  I have missed the south so much and was very happy to be going back - especially in a different season, where I hoped there'd still be snow on the mountains, and even better to be showing it off to someone from home :)

I met Jen off the airport bus and we had a flat dinner before she crashed out with jet lag, then left her to her own devices on Friday as I had to go to work. It was my last day in my job with my current team (another team has extended me, yay!) and so they had a non-surprise morning tea which was really cute of them.  Jen did some Auckland exploring before meeting me and Morry in town, where we played some games of pool and headed home to pack for our big adventure the following day.

After a panicked drive to Morry's house as I realised I had left my camera in his car, my lovely housemate Tim drove us to the airport and we were on our way to Christchurch!  It's a really gorgeous flight - you fly down the west coast and over Taranaki, then Marlborough Sounds, then over the east coast of the South Island, where suddenly below you there's snow capped mountain tops.





We picked up our car - a wee Hyundai Getz, super cheap at $20 a day from Jucy, picked up supplies from the nearest supermarket and headed on our merry way.  We left our route planning all very last minute - I had a vague idea of where to take Jen but we hadn't decided where to go first.  Fate decided for us and a track hut we wanted to stay in was fully booked, so we decided upon a clockwise route in the hope that the hut wouldn't be booked up in a week's time.

Our first stop was Fairlie - I have stayed at this campsite 3 times now, it's really cute, well equipped and in the perfect location for Mt Cook from Christchurch.  Here we met 2 guys who were doing a long bikeride, so we had a nice chat with them and it made me miss travelling because I forgot how friendly and open people are.

First night camping

Spotting our first mountains
Such a Kiwi scene, sheep, mountains and rolling hills


We got up early the next day and drove to Lake Tekapo for a few pictures then on to Mt Cook - my absolute favourite!!! We had planned on doing the Mueller Track all the way to the hut (one of the best hikes ever) however due to snow fall the lady in the DOC office didn't recommend it so we just did the first bit of the hike - the dreaded 2,200 steps to Sealy Tarns. It was hard but worth it - the views are so incredible and even more so with the mountains covered in snow.  We had fantastic weather too which made all the difference!

Excited to be back in my favourite place

Lake Tekapo looking across to Mt Cook

Lake Pukaki looking across to Mt Cook - so so so gorgeous, especially with the snowy peaks

Mt Cook National Park

View from Sealy Tarns

Sealy Tarns, looking back out at the Hooker Valley

If Carlsberg did picnic benches, it'd probably be this one

Mt Cook National Park

Lake Pukaki - so clear

I think all the stairs turned Jen a bit mad and she decided to go into the freezing cold water



Interesting rocks





Sealy Tarns



That night we camped in Twizel and in the morning drove all the way to Kinloch, stopping in Cromwell for lunch and at a gold mining place in the afternoon.  Cromwell has an old town which is like a movie set and very cute. I wasn't overly keen to do the gold mine tour but but it was actually really interesting to learn about the NZ gold rush and see all the machinery.

Cromwell Old Town

Restoration of chinese settlements in the gold mine town


Jen panning for her fortunes....we didn't get any :(


We turned up at Kinloch and Toni let us have a hostel room for 2 nights which was so lovely of her - we turned up in the pouring rain and she wouldn't let us camp.  So we had 2 nights of being warm and toasty in comfortable beds in our own dorm which was very nice!

Driving from Cromwell to Queenstown - the Lindis Pass

Lake Wakatipu looking across to Pigeon Island and Kinloch

Lambing season in Queenstown :)


We did the Routeburn day walk the following day - it's very beautiful and I can see why it's one of the "Great Walks" of NZ. It's about an 8 hour return up to the Routeburn Falls hut through ancient woodland, mostly following the Route Burn along the gorge.  The landscape made me feel like I was a little pixie running through a magical wonderland - it's really stunning.  Unfortunately in the morning the weather wasn't great and we were drenched when we arrived at the hut.  I got really very cold because we'd stopped moving and my cold sweat was drying on me so was taking layers off in an attempt to dry off and get warm.  We were really lucky on the way back down as the weather changed totally and we walked back basking in the sun!!   We met a guy at the end (I still don't know how he overtook us as we didn't see him pass us) who we'd been chatting to at the hut, and offered him a lift back to Glenorchy which he gave us a bag of nuts and seeds, and $10 for petrol for our troubles which was very nice of him and not required at all!

The start of the track - misty mountains






An awesome view that we stopped to appreciate for a while - same photo later down when the weather is much better

Routeburn Falls hut - it's a pretty swish one as huts go!


This is probably one of the many reasons I am single


Ancient forests

The same view as a few photos up but with no clouds and lots of sun




Back at Kinloch we had dinner at the lodge and caught up with Jenni, John and Maartje - it was really nice seeing them again and I felt like I had never been away....I even nearly went through the staff entrance!

Happy to be back at Kinloch


Views across the valley from Kinloch

Rees River Valley

Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu looking across to Pigeon island on the following day- gorgeous weather


The following day we stopped off at The Trading Post (the shop I used to work in) in Glenorchy to have one of their delicious hot chocolates and ginger slices, then drove to Queenstown via Moke Lakes.  In Queenstown we took a wander and had lunch by the lake with Lien, a Belgian girl I'd met in Picton who I keep bumping in to.


Mmmmmmm the hot chocolate that started my 5* rating scale (it's a 5)

Viewpoint overlooking the valley from Queenstown to Wanaka

After Queenstown we drove to Wanaka and camped at Albert Town - and in the morning we walked up Mt Iron for a view over Wanaka. Weirdly apart from 2 guys, everyone else we came across on the walk was a woman in workout gear - it felt a bit like a 'yummy mummy' exercise convention.  In the afternoon we took a drive out to west Wanaka in the direction of Mt Aspiring National Park - our legs were hurting from the Routeburn and Mueller track so we had a lazy car day where we'd drive to a look out, and literally look out the window and drive on, haha.

Sunny in front and storm at the back 

Early morning tent vibes


That Wanaka Tree

Jen admiring the view from Mt Iron over Wanaka

Motatapu Gorge

Mt Aspiring National Park

Mt Aspiring NP



We camped on the edge of Lake Wanaka at a gorgeous campsite in Glendhu Bay, and in the morning set off for the West Coast.  The weather was due to be rainy so we had decided to make it another car day.  The drive from Wanaka to Haast is one of my favourites and that day was no exception - the weather was moody and over cast and the clouds were down low with the sun peaking through it every now and then - it was pretty awesome! We stopped off at Ship's Creek just past Haast to stretch our legs - here they have 2 30 min round trip walks you can do, a dune walk and a swamp walk.  We did both and the swamp walk was amazing - located only 5 mins from the main road but you felt like you were in the middle of the jungle and I half expected to be chased by an alligator.

Glendhu Bay Campsite


The drive to Haast from Wanaka

Ships Creek

Ships Creek

Drift wood

Swamp walk





Part 2 will follow in the next post!!


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