A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand - part 5

Queenstown to Christchurch, Inc a day trip to Doubtful Sound

sunny 10 °C
View Around the world in a few months! on Labgirluk's travel map.

After an adrenaline packed day, for some of us, we had an early start as we were spending the day on the Doubtful Sound. This involved a 2 ½ hr drive to Manapouri to join the cruise, an hour’s boat trip across lake manapouri to the Dock in West arm by the hydro station, an hour’s bus drive over the wilmott pass (one of the most expensive roads ever built) to deep cove in the Doubtful Sound, a fjord within fjordland national park. We were then treated to a 3 hour cruise which included going right up to the entrance to the Tasman Sea and admiring a seal colony on some rocks right at the entrance too. We also experienced some amazing views; waterfalls, sheer cliffs rising out of the water, etc as well as enjoying the silence in one of the arms after all power and engines on the boat were shut down. If only everyone respected the request for complete silence, no photos, and no moving around on the boat....! When there was silence on-board the only sound was a waterfall somewhere and maybe some birds. So peaceful. From there we headed back to Deep cove dock, back over wilmott pass, across lake manapouri and then back to queenstown. A long day but well worth it.
The following day we were starting the drive towards Christchurch with an overnight stop at Twizel on the way. As with all our journeys this wasn’t to be a straight through trip but lots of stops and beautiful views on the way.
The first stop was Arrowtown, which we’d quickly passed through on the way into Queenstown. Here we could see the lovely autumn colours of the trees (some very red ones as well as the usual orange colours) and explored the old mining town, that still looked as if it belonged to the olden days. We passed the original A. J. Hackett bungee jumping bridge, so stopped to watch a couple of people flinging themselves off the bridge towards the icy water below - don't think they opted for the dunking option as that water would be very very cold... From there we travelled to Cromwell for our snacks and picnic lunch shopping. We also had the obligatory group photo under the giant fruit sculpture (think Cromwell may be known for its fruit) before we carried on and over the Lindis pass. As the weather was so nice we stopped for our picnic lunch by the edge of Lake Pukaki, a glacier fed lake. For some reason Ashley (who had spent the whole trip being cold - she’s from Florida so not used to it!) decided to confirm this by dunking her hand in the water and holding it there for as long as possible... Think it stayed numb for a while after! Was an amazing place to have lunch though.
From there we headed up past the lake towards Mount Cook Village. We didn’t go to the village but turned off to go to the Tasman glacier viewpoint, up a little hill with lots of steps! It was worth it to see the glacier in the background with Lake Tasman below us. Once back down we drove round to the hooker valley and walked up to kea point (no kea were spotted on this walk though) and watched the sunset over Mount Cook – well it was behind the mountains but had a lovely light reflection on the west face of Mt. Cook. After this it was time to head to our lodgings for the night, mountain chalet motel, in Twizel and dinner at the ministry of works. Some of us stayed out a little longer in the freezing (literally) weather to look at the stars as it was a clear night. Well worth it though.
The following morning saw us up and out just as the sun was rising. Looked like a Christmas card picture with the frost in the ground and the sunrise over the buildings, and especially with a big solitary pine in the middle of the field... First stop on the road to Christchurch was Lake Tekapo and the church of the good shepherd. This is one of the most sought after churches for getting married in, due to the location and views around it – upto 2 year waiting list – and we could see why. There was even an Asian group there with the woman dressed in wedding finery having pictures taken in the grounds of the church. Do not believe they’d got married there (was about 9am at the time) but apparently this is a common thing for some asians to do, having pictures taken at various famous places around the world... On we carried to Fairlie and its amazing bakehouse and infamous pies. We were there at 9.30am on a Sunday morning and there was decent queue already. Some ate their pies as a second /hot breakfast. I kept mine for a mid morning snack... Was still warm as just as delicious when I finally ate it.
We passed through Geraldine (spoke to someone from there on the airport bus in Sydney so it had stuck in my mind) and then Ashburton (also stuck in my mind as the 2 Americans on the tasmanian tour live and work there) before stopping at Rakaia. 2 of us couldn’t resist having a play on the see-saw in the playground, although it was a ’safe’ one as it was sprung in such a way that it always stayed horizontal when not in use.
We reached Christchurch in plenty of time so we parked up and headed to the little high eatery for some lunch before we had a short tour of some notable areas of the city by a member of the rekindle organisation (www.rekindle.org.nz) – including a dance-o-mat, where an old washing machine had been converted to a stereo that you can plug your phone into and dance on the sprung mats! They are partially funded by planeterra, the philanthropic arm of gadventures, so part of our tour fee goes towards that funding. After the tour we headed to their workshop in the arts centre, an old University of Canterbury building. All these buildings are being renovated/restored after the 2010/11 quakes damaged many of them. There we learnt to make string/rope from the local cordyline plant leaves that had fallen to the ground. Theoretically this can be done with any plants of this family and make good biodegradable string for use in the garden.... This was the last formally organised activity of our tour. After checking in to our rooms we headed down to the restaurant linked to the motel for our last dinner. A couple of speeches were made and a present/card presented to Jonno, who had made a good tour excellent, before tucking into good food and enjoying a few drinks (well the usual group were chucked out at closing....).
The final morning saw us having brekkie and then Jonno kindly dropped us off at various places, most going to the museum before heading to the airport, and me at Lyttelton to catch the ferry across to diamond harbour for my next leg of the NZ tour – a 10 day break staying with friends...
Loved this tour, even though it was a whistle stop tour. We got to see the highlights of New Zealand, as the tour title said. Good memories to take with me.

Posted by Labgirluk 14:10 Archived in New Zealand Tagged lake_tekapo mount_cook doubtful_sound arrowtown twizel tasman_glacier fairlie_bakehouse rakaia dance-o-mat rekindle

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