If you are new, here is Day One.So after a restless night going to bed at stupid early (given NZ is three hours ahead of us) and the kids rolling around and getting all up in our grill at 4am, we had all managed to go back to sleep. Feet were in people’s nostrils, arms pinned under bodies – we daren’t move lest one of the brats woke up again. So I was very surprised to hear someone knocking on our door what seemed like 45 seconds after I finally fell asleep. It took me a bit to come to and realise the owner of the B+B was knocking on our door and she wasn’t going away. I was sure she could see us, as it was a glass sliding door and just as I made the realisation I had to get out of bed, I also remembered I was not wearing any pants. I climbed over the bed and all the children in it, and sheepishly opened the door in my state of deshabille.
We were 45 minutes late for breakfast, and we had to come now.
As the lady was speaking, my eyes travelled past her to the mountains that the previous night had been obscured from view.
Yep, that’s a mountain.
Suffice to say we had a lovely breakfast and we were soon on our way, with me stopping every minute and a half to take photos. Day two’s scenery through the Southern Alps absolutely blew my mind.
Our first stop was the actual Fox Glacier, a relic from the last Ice Age (110,000 to 10,000 years ago) that spans 13 kilometres and, along with the neighbouring Franz Josef glacier, is rare as it is situated so near the coast. Packed full of ice and covered in a thick layer of snow in winter, it is awe-inspiring and cold. We walked through the huge gorge it had created as it retreated through the mountains and there were signposts along the way showing where it used to be in years past. I’m told it is now actually advancing at a rate of about a metre a week. That is fast!
Pepper was a great little friend to take up to the glacier face although her little hands got quite cold.
And all was well until the last 50m or so, when it was quite the uphill climb and I had to stop several times lest I die.
But it was pretty amazing. It would be incredible in wintertime, and you can even get helicopters to land on the snowy glacier and go exploring! (With a guide, of course, duh.)
Once I jelly-legged my way back down the track, we jumped in the car and headed off to the next adventure.
Waterfalls! and Blue Pools! Not ashamed to say this bridge gave me the willies.
The pools most certainly are blue, and they are absolutely crystal clear. We hung out here for a while, kicking over the smooth pebbles (Abby was yelling “Macca Pacca!” all over the shop) and we went over a few more bridges to look at the scenery.
After trekking back to the car (about 15 minutes’ walk), we hit the road again. It wasn’t long until I got hungry and I checked the book for places to eat along the way. Just as I found the last town we could stop in before Wanaka, I realised we’d just driven through it. My devastation knew no end. No end, people – I was starving. I had grabbed a few groceries from the supermarket at Hokitika the day before, but there’s only so far a muesli bar and some cherry tomatoes will get you. My spirits sunk to my shoes and I was about to abandon all hope when I spotted the Makarora Country Cafe and we pulled over. They were closing up shop, but offered us the only vegetarian sandwiches they had. They were possibly one of the best sandwiches of all time. OF ALL TIME. Egg, cheese, carrot and onion with plenty of salt and a hot cup of tea and oh what a feeling, I was dancing on the ceiling.
The drive from there to Wanaka was breathtaking, zillion-dollar views of both Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea and plenty of mountain ranges to please the whole family.
Yes it really, truly is that colour.
I’m surprised there aren’t more crashes, around every twist and turn of the road, the view slams you right in the face. I never, ever got sick of seeing lakes and mountains. It was just eye-slappingly gorgeous everywhere you looked.
After we picked our jaws up off the floor, we arrived in Wanaka and got out to give Abby a bit of a run around in the park. We went to so many parks with incredible backdrops! Funny how the littlies just run straight past with nary a glance, and we stand awe-struck at the mountain magnificence.
It was getting late, so we didn’t stay long. I’d heard the Crown Range road had some of the most spectacular views in all of the South Island and I wasn’t about to be wasting that on a night drive. Being the highest sealed road in the country pretty much guaranteed us some eye candy.
Everything was just so golden and gorgeous. We travelled through Cardrona, where my head whipped around so fast to look at the amazing historic Cardrona Hotel I nearly gave myself whiplash, and saw signs everywhere warning that in two days somebody would be filming in the area and there would be delays. I thought it was pretty, but I had no idea what was coming.
The other side of the Range meant THE windiest (windey not windy!) road down the hugest mountain with the most arresting views. I think some of it was Lord of the Rings locations? It certainly seemed likely – everything was green and golden and there was such a special light. Pretty blue rivers winding around green valleys and far-off mountains made it look so dreamy.
But the road absolutely made me shit myself. This is my terrified face!
I could have looked at it forever. Make sure you check out the other photos on Flickr, I couldn’t fit them all in a post!
Anyway, before we knew it we were in Queenstown, and settling down for two nights at The Rees hotel. Just what we needed – a big bed, a beautiful view, excellent service, and enough room for the kiddies to stretch their legs.
Our view from the bathroom wasn’t bad either! You’d better believe I got in that tub just as soon as I could. Veggie Dad went out to get us famed Fergburgers (and they gave him the wrong order, which meant I was picking deer meat off a Bambi burger – NOT COOL) and we partook of a sneaky NZ wine. It was a huge day and we saw so much, but there was still so much left to be seen!
Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 3 – and the freakiest photo I’ve ever taken. Not sure I even want to look at it again!
For more pics of Day 2, go here.
For day three, go here.
*NB this trip was self-funded.