Month: September 2019

Monday 9th September

Traveling further into the mountains we visited the alpine town of Queenstown established in the 1860’s gold rush. It backs onto the remarkables mountain range and has enjoyed a boom in tourism now being a leading international resort for adventure sports. Next stop 13 miles from queenstown was Arrowtown a picturesque preserved gold-mining town.

It’s Main Street still has its old colonial shops and buildings at one end and tiny miners cottages dating to the 1860’s the other.

Our journey continued over Kawarau river next to the suspension bridge where the worlds first bungy jump took place 1988. The bridge was built 1881 provided a permanent means to cross the river replacing the punt.

We camped up tonight at the side of lake dunstan another stunning location and we had the place to ourselves.

Sunday 8th September

Moving away from the coast and heading into the mountains, spectacular scenery all around us. We stop at a small town in the Garston district, to buy some local hunny. The valley in which Garston lies is flanked by the eyre mountains to the west and the slate range and hector mountains to the east.

The Garston district was established in 1858 made up of two sheep stations-Glenquoich and greendale. Garston is the most inland village in New Zealand.

Next stop for lunch a old train station Kingston, cool place with old trains ripe for restoration just laying around.

We are camping along side lake Wakatipu tonight. A glacier lake, local legend has it that the lake was formed by the imprint of a sleeping demon burnt to death by the lover of a beautiful Maori girl captured by the demon. His heart did not perish and is still beating making the water level rise and fall 7cm every 5 minutes.

We spent the afternoon balancing stones.pebble skimming and watching the sun set whilst drinking tea.

Saturday 7th September

I am a spoiled brat. I am so lucky to be able to do this trip. I wake up in the most fantastic locations with the best scenery in the world to see. Yesterday I was cruising on a luxury boat down Milford sound. So why when my lovely husband asked me if I was ok as I was a bit quiet couldn’t I smile and say I’m fine.

The fact is I’m missing my bike, yes sad I know. But I love cycle touring. You see the world differently and people talk to you actually interested in you and your journey. At the moment we are just another tourist in a camper van nobody’s.

So I told Mike how I was feeling sounding like a ungrateful kid dragged on holiday. Feeling guilty as he was doing all the driving so ungrateful of me.

To my relief he feels the same, so today we stayed put, hired two mountain bikes and went for a cycle. It felt great. The wind whistling past my ears, my heart beating fast to keep up the demand,my body was asking for oxygen to my muscles. I felt alive I think my smile said it all.

The Route we took was a trail between two lakes following a river. It was great listening to the birds and seeing the wild life.

We started at lake Te Anau and followed the river Waiau. the largest river in the Southland region, and doubles as the river anduin in the first film in the lord of the rings trilogy.

And onto lake Manapouri whose shoreline covers 55 square miles. Manapouri power station takes advantage of the difference in height between the mountains here and channels the water into 7 generators in a underground room carved out of solid granite 700 ft under the mountain.

We returned the same way stopping for a picnic lunch

We had a great day and cycled 25 miles on gravel track enjoying all it had to offer. We’ve got juicy Lucy for another two weeks then the cycling begins.

Friday 6th September

Our juicy Lucy van is comfortable to sleep in, but also today she is giving us a juicy discount on a cruise.

The juicy company have a couple of catamarans operating tours in Milford sound. And as a juicy driver we can go on one half price. And as a extra brucie bonus the cruise that we had booked on (the cheapest one) got cancelled at the last minute we were upgraded to the premium cruise leaving 30 minutes later. A much nicer boat, unlimited hot drinks and longer all for the same price.

So a lovely morning spent on the water.

followed by the Milford road back in the afternoon. Tonight’s camp is in Te Anau a pretty town on the shore of the lake sharing it’s name. The lake is the largest on the South Island 38 miles long. 1,370 feet deep formed from glacier action. Popular for fishing and you can also catch the sea plane from here to explore the fiords by air.

At $500 each we decided that maybe we could live with out, maybe next time.

Thursday 5th September

Today we drive the Milford road 75 miles of fiordlands spectacular landscapes. It has world heritage highway status. It has lush lake side forest, rugged mountains, alpine rivers and waterfalls. It takes 2.5 hours to drive if you don’t stop, but how could you not stop with the views it treats you to every second you just have to take a photo.

It has many stops along the way where you can go off on walks to stretch your legs from 5 minutes to 8 hours, some easy and others more challenging. The area is also rich in rare wild life, no dogs are aloud in the park and no wild camping either. So tonight we have to folk out for the most expensive campsite yet in New Zealand. it’s the only one in Milford so basically they can charge pretty much what they like. Saying that it is a well equipped site and clean. However the camp kitchen was small and to busy, no wi fi as it’s so remote and no t v. Mikes also run out of data not sure he will make it through the night.

Wednesday 4th September

Today mike wanted to have a look around the motel cycle museum in Invercargill. It has over 300 bikes. Invercargill is the home town of Burt Monro and even though I’m not into bikes I’ve actually heard of Burt. I’ve watched the film staring Antony Hopkins that told the story of the fastest Indian, a motorcycle that Burt broke the land speed record on at bonneville salt flats. A good film and made the museum a little bit more interesting for me.

After spending a couple of hours looking around the museum we followed the coast around looking for a nice place to camp up. The road again was stunning and not much traffic. We have now gone as far south as we can unless we go to Stewart island so am now headed north up the west coast.

Tonight’s spot is monkey island. Named after the monkey winch that was used to haul ships up the slip way. It was a traditional lookout for whales. In the mid 19th century interest focused on the gold dust which lay on the beach. It made a very nice campsite for us. Treating us to the most spectacular sunset.

Tuesday 3rd September

Mikes birthday. So instead of fruit and cereal for his breakfast he had bacon and eggs, he had to make it himself though.

A good start to the day.

Again today was a lot of sat in juicy Lucy as even though it’s beautiful here there’s not a lot to do. we entertained ourselves singing along to our Spotify playlist and watched the forever changing landscape out of the window.

We drove through forests, passed rugged coastlines and explored hidden waterfalls. All in the area called the catlins. Named after Edward Cattlin who brought a large chunk of land back in 1840.

Each waterfall had a walk to them from the car park on steep gravel paths, taking us through rain forest very cool. That’s our exercise done for the day my thighs still ache from yesterday’s hills.

We followed the southern scenic route down to the most southerly point on the island looking out over turquoise sea, stunning.

The evening was spent in the city of Invercargill where we had a meal out to celebrate mikes birthday in a pizza restaurant called hell.

The night was finished up with supermarket brought cake and beer for the birthday boy. Sat in the camp kitchen. We no how to live the high life.

Monday 2nd September

The city of Dunedin its hay day was in the 1860’s when it was the country’s commercial centre in the gold rush.

Diverse architecture and lovely public parks. It also has a Cadbury’s chocolate factory, so it’s a winner for me.

The main reason for us to stop here was that it has the worlds steepest street. Baldwin street 36%. Well it did have but a road in Wales has just been awarded that title.

Anyway it’s steep and we walked up it.

At the top on a bench taking a well earned break we started talking to a guy who was also sat on the bench. Dave kernaham well known in the area as the Baldwin street king. He climbs this street every day and has done for the last 20ys some days he has climbed it 30 times a day. He told us that he started doing this when he got made redundant while of work sick after cutting off he’s index finger in a industrial accident. He said it was ether walk the hill or turn to drink. Such a character we were there sat on the bench for over a hour talking to him. He gave us pointers on where to visit.

After leaving Dave we headed to tunnel beach. Edward Cargill cut a tunnel through sandstone cliffs in the 1870’s so that he could get to a pretty beach below. It gave spectacular views of the cliffs sculpted by wind and sea.

Time to find a campsite for the night. It’s not a great location with views, but time to catch up on the internet and wash some clothes ready for tomorrow’s adventure.

Sunday 1st September

Wow it’s September time really does fly when you’re having fun. It’s the 1st day off spring and it’s starting to bloom. Early spring flowers are out and trees are blossoming. Gorgeous.

Today we visited oamaru it claims to be the steampunk capital of the world. Steampunk is all about retro-futurism, fantasy, and how the victorians might imagined the future. And indeed people were dressed up in Victorian clothes and it had quirky little shops in its Victorian precinct.

It also has a blue penguin colony living in its harbour. Blue penguins are the worlds smallest penguin only 30cm tall and weigh 1kg they can live up to 10 years. Again we weren’t lucky enough to see them. We will keep looking.

Continuing south we stopped to take in the geological phenomenon of the huge,spherical Moeraki boulders on koekohe beach. Really fascinating.

A little souvenir shop on the beach was full of all the normal tourist tat but the lady working there was lovely, we spent ages talking to her and she told us of a great spot on the beach where we could camp the night and hopefully see the dolphins.

She was right, it was a great spot and we watched but like the penguins no luck.

Another night star watching the skies are amazing.