Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day 8, Mt Cook > Christchurch, January 17th 2014

Last day in New Zealand today, we fly out at some ungodly hour in the morning in order to make our connector to Tamworth. Very bad planning. We woke up to what the locals were calling a perfect day at Mount Cook, the view looked amazing with the dawn colours enhancing the snowy peaks.
We were booked in for a helitour at 9am so we had an hour or so to kill, we had a look around the Hooker Valley and the Tasman Valley, you really need a good camera to take pics here, the extreme light of the sky and dark of the shadows and the brightness of the snow gives the auto focus a workout.
We arrived at the heli joint a little early too so we just stood around taking more pictures before the safety brief and away we went.
We climbed higher, and higher (850mtr > 3700mtr) until we finally landed up on a mountain opposite Mt Cook, the views were exceptional but at about -10C and windy we didn’t hang around for a long time.
We jumped back on board and headed west towards the top of the Franz Joseph glazier. We were supposed to land there but the wind was all over the place and the helicopter was bouncing around like a cork in washing machine. Jodi and I both liked the thrill but the pommy chick sitting next to Jodi starting praying and the other two passengers were not much keener to stay on the west side so the pilot made a judgement call and we pushed quickly back to the east side of the range where the wind was more predictable.
The view of the river and lake on the way back to the helipad was amazing.
Here’s a quick roadside pic of Lake Tekapu, the country along the ranges has a postcard opportunity around every corner.
I was meeting up with a flour mill owner at Timaru but got a bit side tracked at some Taxidermy shop along the way.
After the flour mill we took the scenic route to Christchurch, big mistake, too long, too tied and too many road works. Anyway, that’s day seven done. See you in sunny gunny tomorrow afternoon. Stu

Day 7, Wanaka > Mt Cook, January 16th 2014

We woke to rain at Wanaka this morning, it wasn’t cold and the rain made a rainbow on the hills opposite the lake which was a bit unusual.
We ducked downtown to grab some breakfast............and hand feed the local sparrows.
We drove north through the Lindis Pass, it was an impressive road, probably much better on a nice motorbike I’d imagine. We pulled up at Omarama for a break and a coffee / tea, cool pool room, appalling coffee & tea.
We came across Lake Ruataniwha just south of Twizel and had to pull up and take a picture of the water, the colour was amazing.
A little further north was the turn off to Mt Cook. We travelled along Lake Pukaki for a while; it was also the amazing blue colour so we grabbed a few more pics.
The further up the valley we got the heavier the clouds got and the higher the hills got. It was like driving into another world and the wind was something else, very strong, maybe 100 - 120kmph.
We checked in to the Hermitage and scored a room on the 9th floor with amazing views towards Mt Cook and Mt Sefton but the rain was spoiling the views, but it was clearing slowly.
Around dinner time the clouds began to break and clear allowing up the opportunity to do some “tramping” on a couple of the many trails leading away from the village.
We went up the Kea Trail and had a look at the Alpine Memorial overlooking Hooker valley with Mt Cook in the backgrounds.
Pictures do not do this place justice, just come and have a look it’s simply amazing. Saw a small avalanche too, sounded like a jet plane.
We do a helicopter flight through the area tomorrow morning, I can’t wait.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day6, te Anau > Wanaka: January 15th 2014

We had one of our larger distances to travel today, about 227km.
After heading back towards Queenstown along the picturesque Lake Wakatipu we turned east and headed towards Cromwell. About 2 weeks ago I was watching TV and the GT Cup (motor cars) was on at the newly opened Highland Motorsport Complex just out of Cromwell, about half way between Queenstown and Wanaka.
It looked like a pretty impressive setup and had hot laps, go carts and self drive laps on offer. Well you don’t have to ask me twice to pull into a motorsport park and by lunchtime we were walking around the showroom museum and trying to figure out what we (read I) wanted to do.
They have a Suzuki Swift left over there from the Swift Cup series that was popular in both Australia and NZ a couple of years ago. They are not exactly stock but they’re not exactly a V8 supercar or a Subaru Impreza either but most importantly they are not mine and I have no responsibility for it after I have finish my 7 laps. So the waiver was signed, I was suited up and we headed out to the track.
I was devastated when he told me we are not using the whole track just some bit about 700mtrs long they have pegged out in the middle.
I soon recovered from my disappointment and carved up a few laps.
It was a heap of fun and he let me do a slow lap (120kmph) after the little laps were done to give me a look at the main track. It’s stunning, long smooth sweepers, a nicely banked hair pin, a bridge, a tunnel, and 200+k straight.
Anyway we finished up and headed off to cover the last 50ks into Wanaka where we are staying overnight. Wanaka is a funny place, it’s got some stunning scenery and is nice next to the lake but it kind of reminds me of Port Macquarie, so I’m not really sold on it to tell you the truth.
It seems to be the ideal place for a family holiday where Mum and Dad do nothing and let the kids entertain themselves all day, there’s heaps of kids running around and you can hear kids yelling and laughing and playing all the time, it’s a very family type of place. We had half an hour to kill so we headed out to the Museum.......this place has everything from jet engines, motor bikes, cars, trains, plains, toys, you name it it’s in one of the four sheds.
Well that’s about it for today, we have a 10% off ticked at the local Ale and Steakhouse so we’ll probably head there directly. Off the Mt Cook tomorrow.