Road Trip to Fiordlands

I’m back on the grid so I’m going to start posting starting from last Sinday, hopefully I’ll eventually catch up. 

We left our Cottage and headed toward the Fiordlands, a 2.5 hour drive for 45 miles. It was a beautiful drive. Our first stop was mirror lakes, the photos explain the name. 

We had a great lunch beside a fast moving, amazingly clear stream. 

We headed on and arrived at Milford Sound, checked into the lodge and checked out the area. We stopped for a beer at another lodge then headed back to our place for appies. 

We cooked our meal in the communal kitchen. 

We had soup, salad and toast. It was excellent. 

The Kepler Track

Today we had a relaxing morning at out cottage enjoying the view. We feasted on the fresh baked bread and jam provided by our host. We decided we would trek along the Kepler Track one of nine Great Walks here in New Zealand. Our host, Dave, drove us up to the start and so we could walk back to the cottage. The hike started by crossing a river that was a scene from  the Lord of the Rings movies. 

The hike was in thick forest with views off to the fast moving river.  

The flora and fauna were beautiful as we journeyed on. 

It was a great hike. Very private and quiet. 

After about 4 hours we emerged at the Lake Te Anau where there were control gates at the entrance to the lake. 

We finished up by hiking home to enjoy a lovely sunset on our porch. 

Later  John grilled up some lamb chops the were amazing. 

We watch the rest of our movie and headed to bed. 

I am headed up toward Milford Sound tomorrow followed by a four day backpacking trip (The Routeburn Track). I will have no cell or wifi coverage so it will be a week before I am able to post again.  

Road Trip

This morning we packed up all of our belongings for our trip to Te Anau. We headed out with a goal of making interesting stops along the 4 hour journey. First stop Butler’s Jams. 

We bought jam, chutney, a delicious sausage pastry and a raspberry crumble. We considered just staying here but figured we should continue. We made a stop in Oamaru a small town Kathleen  and John had visited earlier. It had a big Steampunk museum. A new concept to me but very fascinating. 

Next up a really cool college town called Dunedin. We had lunch at a well known fish restaurant, The Best Cafe, and had great fish and chips. Delicious. 

We walked around the town a bit. There was a Cadberry chocolate factory, a cool town center with restaurants and bars and an old train station. 

Definitely a town to spend more time in. 

Next was a coffee stop where I found some unusual flowers. 

Before finally arriving in Te Anau and the Kepler Oaks Chalet where we are staying. It is a great cabin with spectacular views. It is in a 15 acre “farmlet” run by a nice couple with 3 young boys. They also have a dog, goat, rabbit, sheep, chickens, alpaca and horses. Helen our hostess provides us with homemade bread, jam, fresh eggs, juice, tasty deserts and incredible views. What a life. 

We made a delicious dinner and watched the first half of an GREAT movie (filmed partially in New Zealand)  called The World’s Fastest Indian (I highly recommend it) then headed to bed. 

Goodbye to Timaru

Wednesday was a day to appreciate Timaru and the lovely house that John and Kathleen are staying in. We had a very leisurely morning enjoying our coffee. John made an excellent egg and bacon breakfast. We researched all thing New Zealand on our devices. We had toasties for lunch (grilled cheese sandwiches) then loaded up for a goodbye tour of Timaru. We cruised through the quaint shopping district then had one last hike. We followed a trailed called dashing rocks made famous by an old ship wreck site  along the steep cliffs. 

We headed home for a hot tub, nibbles and an excellent salmon dinner. Tomorrow we pack up and head south. Timaru was a great starting point for my journey. I wonder what’s ahead. 

Salmon, Sushi, Sun and Sky

Today was a kind of surprise day. Full of activities that I didn’t see coming.  We had a nice start to the day in our cottage then packed up for our journey back home (the house in Timaru). We decided we needed to see/get more salmon so we headed to a different salmon farm to see what they had. This one let us feed the salmon. We would throw the provided pellets into the water and the salmon would very quickly dart to the top, grab the food and disappear. It made taking pictures very difficult. 

We decided to be brave and we purchased discount salmon sushi for a mid morning snack (what could go wrong with that plan?). But it actually was very delicious. 

We also bought salmon fillets for a future dinner and some salmon chorizo. 

We then started the drive home. Along the way we took a short detour up a small mountain to an observatory with a spectacular cafe. We could see out in all directions to amazing views. There were 5 or 6 observatory buildings and a glass cafe with great toasties and cake. Pure heaven (and we felt pretty close to heaven). 

After a delicious lunch we headed back home. It was nice to be back in Timatu. One of the highlights of this house is a great backyard hot tub. So we had pupus and hard Apple cider while having a soak. 

Later we had a great Indusn dinner before calling it a night. 

Hiking, hiking, hiking

After a good night sleep we awoke and enjoyed a leisurely morning at the cottage. We decided to stay a second night and prepared for our day of hiking in the Mount Cook National Park. The drive up was beautiful with the mountains getting closer as we drove. 

We checked out the visitor center then decided on the Hooker Valley Track as our big hike of the day. The trail went gradually upward crossing back and forth over cool bridges across a river. 

The scenery was spectacular with great views of the snow covered mountains. 

We finally arrived at the Hooker glacier lake with chunks of glacial ice floating around. We sat and had lunch. 

After making our way back to the car we took a second hike up the side of a mountain through an old Beach tree forest with views out over the plains. 

Then deciding that two hikes wasn’t enough we took one last  hike to an overlook of the Tasaman glacier and another iceberg lake. 

All in all a 12 mile hike day. We returned to the cottage for lamb sausages on the BBQ before heading to bed exhausted from a great day.

Salmon and biking

Today we woke up very early so we could drive two hours to the Mount Cook National Park. It was an interesting drive through farm land, pig farms with ginormous hogs (looking clean and happy) and views toward the approaching mountains. Along the way we stopped at a small shop that sold fresh salmon products raised in the glacier fed waters of the area. 

The shop overlooked a glacial lake with amazing blue waters. 

We arrived at the small town of Twizel (pronounced with a long I). I rented a bicycle (K&J had bikes from there home exchange people). We set out on a 12km bike trek to Lake Pukaki. 

It was a great trip relatively flat with amazing views toward Mount Cook. At the end we had lunch on the shores of Lake Pukaki and has a little rest. 

We then headed back. Once in Twizel we visited the large  equipment located in the park used to make the nearby hydroelectric dam. 

We then made our way to the Gladstone Cottage that we had rented for the night. We feasted on our salmon purchases. Smoked salmon for appetizer and fresh salmon for dinner. Amazing. 

Tomorrow we’re off to hike the national park.

Tour of Timaru

Today was a day to see the small town of Timaru. A cute little town on the ocean. We spent the morning having coffee, reading guide books and enjoying the nice house that K&J have. At lunch we set out to see the town. First stop Caroliba Bay. There were nice board walks through the dunes and a small beach. 

After a nice stroll we had a picnic. 

Next up was the Timaru/Cantebury museum. A history of the town, how it got  started, the journey of the first English people in the 1800s. Well done and informative. 

We then headed home for a rest. Next up was a trip at sunset to see penguins swim ashore, walk up the beach and go hide in the rocks. We arrived about 20 minutes before sunset, enjoyed a walk along the jetty and watched the sunset. 

Then we waited for the arrival of the penguins and we waited and we waited. Finally after about an hour we gave up. We’ll try again another night starting a bit later. We headed back home for a great dinner of left overs. Then to bed early. Tomorrow is a road trip to the mountains and we must start early. 

On to Timaru

I arrived easily in Christchurch where there was a light rain falling. I retrieved my bag and found the city bus to take me to Christchurch City Center. What I  noticed as the bus made it way was the amazing amount of construction.  A closer look showed that it wasn’t all really construction. Much of the scaffolding and fencing was the result of earthquake damage. Walls being propped up, buildings fenced off, roof damage, exposed siding etc. it’s everywhere. Once downtown the evidence is even greater of the damage from the great quakes a few years ago. The most prominent damage is the old cathedral. After 3 years it still sits damaged and unrepaired. 

The downtown area is very cute with small shops and an old trolley that circles the area. 

I grabbed a chicken wrap and some cookies and found my bus stop to continue the journey. It was a 2.5 hour journey through flat farm land with views if mountains in the distance. The sun came out and it was a beautiful day. At 5:00pm the bus pulled into the train station in Timaru where I could see John and Kathleen awaiting my arrival, a welcomed sight. the three/four day journey was over. I had arrived. 

They took me for a pint at a great pub with indoor and outdoor seating. I had a pint of Old Dark, delicious. We then journeyed to their house exchange home. It is a lovely place with big doorways opened on to a small well manicured backyard.

After a dip in the hot tub  Kathleen and John prepared an amazing dinner of  mini lamb roasts, potatoes gratin, salad (fresh from the garden) and bread. It was a feast. 

The nightly ritual is to watch an old movie. The nights selection was Dave. I made about 40 minutes before excusing myself for bed. A pretty good first day. 

What happened to Thursday?

The flight to Auckland was long but not difficult. I left Honolulu on Wednesday afternoon, flew 9 hours, crossed the equator and the international date line and arrived in Auckland on Friday. The time changes are baffling. I use the World Click feature on my iPhone to see the time/date in other places but it is still confusing. Oh well. 

The flight was good. Eat, drink, movie, eat, drink. Not much to complain about. 

At arrival we were told to stay in our seats and prepare to be disinfected (I didn’t know I was infected). A guy came aboard, handed the flight attendants spray cans. They opened all the luggage compartments then walked up and down the aisles spraying into the air. Odd. 

I was first off, first through an easy passport check, first through customs and was out the door into a warm humid night. I walked about 20 minutes through the airport parking lots to my hotel. A very plain room but it was a great nights sleep. 

I had breakfast and headed back to the airport., domestic terminal this time. The nice lady checking me in commented on my height and moved me to an exit row with more leg room. NZ people seem very nice. 

Today I fly to Christchurch, take a bus into town, find another bus stop to catch a 2.5 hour bus to Timaru to connect with Kathkeen and John. 

it will be nice to meet up with locals!!!