A Travellerspoint blog

Wanaka to Kaikora via The West Coast

South Island

We drove over the Haast pass to get to the west coast, we stopped in Haast to look at the beach and the sea and continued driving up into glacier country.
The tree and plants change over on the west coast and look more tropical and bush like.
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We also replenished our stash of local honey!
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We stopped at Fox glacier as I wanted to see what it looked like 9 years on from when I last saw it and it has definitely got smaller but we couldn’t get a great view of it.
We decided to stay the night in Franz Jospeh which also has a glacier. Last time I was here I did a guided walk across it, now you can only access it by helicopter (making it expensive) due to how far it was retreated with warmer weather. Franz Jospeh was a cute village with some nice bars and restaurants.

We continued up the west coast towards Greymouth and stopped in Hokitika for an ice cream and leg stretch. The drives yesterday and today have been quite long as we haven’t seen anywhere we wanted to stop and stay for long so have just kept moving.

We then found a place called Lake Brunner about 30km from Greymouth which was perfect was swimming and relaxing and as the weather was so nice we stayed here for 2 nights. We fished, swam and did yoga and not much else!! We met a few people from the nzmca who invited us for drinks which was nice.
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Our plan was to keep following the west coast and reach Abel Tasman which is at the north west of the South Island and then work our way around the north of the South Island and finish in kaikora (north east of the South Island), however we read about the Marlborough wine and food festival which is on 9th Feb and thought it was too good to miss so have changed our route to now go cross country to kaikora and then work our west to hopefully still get to Abel Tasman.

So, we went back to greymouth to refuel, not much else here, and then stared our route cross country. There wasn’t much to see here compared to the rest of the South Island so again we continued driving to get the miles in. We stopped at Hamner Springs which is a small alpine town, looks very man made but again is quite cute. We stayed here for the night and set off towards Kaikora the next day as we had booked a whale watch.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 18:59 Archived in New Zealand Tagged sunset swimming campervan roadtrip honey west_coast vypsies lake_brunner Comments (0)

Mt Aspring National Park, West Matukituki Track

South Island

We set off early from Cardrona to make our way to the end of the Mt aspiring road which is about 1 hour, 1 way from Wanaka, 2/3rds of it being a gravel track with fords in it.
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We arrived at raspberry creek carpark (end of the track) around 9am and set off on our tramp.
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Our first hurdle was the rob Roy glacier track which is 4km uphill giving you great views of the glacier.
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Once back down (8km done in total) we started the west matukituki track and headed for aspiring hut which was 9km away but on a mainly flat route following the river up the valley. The views of mountains and glaciers here is amazing and teases you for what’s to come if you venture further in.
We arrived at the hut after lunch and bagsy’d ourselves a couple of beds in the shared bunk room. We had an early night as we had been advised to start our next part of the walk early due to gale force winds coming in the afternoon. We woke in the night and went outside to use the loo and the stars were unreal! The best I have seen anywhere!
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We got up at 6.30am, had some breakie and set off at 7.15am heading for French ridge hut which is 8-9km away but over 800m climb!! The first hour is okay, again following the river with a gentle climb and once you cross the river and enter the trees the steepness hits you! This wasn’t like anything I have walked in the uk or Europe or even when I did the annapurna in the Himalayas! The terrain on the track was so steep in places you had to rock climb and scramble up.
It was tough going but we took lots of stops to take in the scenery as it was unforgettable! You end up being on par with glaciers and looking down the valley at the mountain range. When we finally got the top (it took 3 hours to do 4-5km over the climb) and to the hut it was around 12pm and we were the only people there, expecting others to join us later as we had passed quite a few people on their way down from the hut. No one else came, so just to two of us in a hut 1400m in the middle of the mountains. It was amazing!
We had a nap (3 hours!) cooked tea, played games and went to bed. The winds kicked in during the evening and it was pretty scary being in a tin hut! It was so loud you woke up throughout the night but our hut kept us safe.
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The DOC range had told us to expect heavy rainfall as well as the strong wind, therefore not to try and set off back down until it had passed in the afternoon. She told us this via radio which you have to switch on a certain time and check in with them as weather conditions can change that quickly it can be very dangerous to be on any of the routes at that time.
We sat out the rain and the wind until 12pm (24hours spent in the hut!) and once the weather cleared we set off on the long journey back to the carpark (about 19km in total and back down the treacherous path!). It took us around 6 hours to get back to the carpark and it was nice to do the same track a different way as we saw things we didn’t appreciate on the way up.
We were both tired and said we didn’t want to walk for a while but would definitely do another overnight tramp like this again as it was a great experience with views you just wouldn’t get anywhere else.
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We then drove back through Wanaka and started our journey towards the west coast. We didn’t go far as we were tired and parked up next to the top of lake Wanaka.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 21:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged walking views scenery mt climbing tramping aspring_hut french_ridge_hut aspring Comments (0)

Alexandra to Wanaka

South Island

We worked from Monday to Friday on a vineyard called 3 miners in Alexandra. Our job was to leaf pluck the leaves around the grapes so sunlight could get to them. It was the most boring job ever and we only lasted 1 week rather than the 2 we were supposed to because of this!
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We stayed around Alexandra on Saturday and Sunday, we camped just out of town at a lake where we fished. We went to a lovely cafe for brunch and played tennis, and went to the local cinema. The cinema is run by volunteers and only held about 30 people, a great facility in a small town!
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On Sunday evening we drove back to Cromwell and camped out next to the lake there.
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In the morning we got our rod fixed (it had broken) set off to Wanaka.
We decided on the way that we would do a big walk in the Mt aspiring national park, based on recommendations from Marion our old next door neighbour, so we stopped at the DOC info centre in Wanaka to pick up our overnight passes for the huts we would stay in and to check the weather etc.
In Wanaka we parked at ruby island and sunbathed and fished.
I have also started doing yoga so try to do half an hour every day in the nice places we stop.
Rosanne came to meet us in the afternoon and took us to her favourite burrito van and local brewery. It was really nice to meet her and see Wanaka from a locals perspective.
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The next day we got everything ready for our 3 day tramp and then went horse riding with Rosie after lunch. It was great fun! She took us into the Cardrona valley (which is just outside Wanaka and is where you can ski in the winter) and the scenery of beautiful. It’s beautiful all around Wanaka too.
We walked, trotted and even cantered on the horses! It was a great way to see the countryside.
Rosie then took us to the local distillery which is new in Cardrona. We did a tasting of their vodka, gin and fruit liqueurs. We couldn’t taste any whisky as it isn’t ready yet! Everything was so nice but very expensive but we were tempted to treat ourselves to a bottle, but had a cocktail instead. We then went to the Cardrona hotel which is the 2nd oldest pub in NZ. It was the best and nicest pub we have been in so far. Very ‘oldy worldy’ with a lovely outdoor courtyard, we ate and the food was good too - Cardrona basically only has a few houses, the distillery and the pub but I now want to live here!
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Posted by Louisejhcowan 21:08 Archived in New Zealand Tagged trek vineyard horse wine leaf wanaka campervan alexandra plucking Comments (0)

Around Queenstown

South Island

On 15th we drove to a few different vineyards on the outskirts of queenstown in the Gibbston valley (on the road out to Cromwell).
We found most of these wineries only sell wine to take away rather than to sit in and drink so we bought a bottle and found a nice place to park along the Crown Range road with beautiful views. We stayed here for the night.
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16th was Chris’ 30th birthday! We drove to Arrowtown which is a small town outside of queenstown famous for gold mining and we also went to Lake Hayes. We both loved Lake Hayes and said it would be a lovely place to live.
We found a winerie called the wet jacket which had a bar and outside area where we had a couple of glasses of wine and some food.
We stayed at the bungee jump car park this night as we needed to be up early in the morning for some casual work nearby.
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On Thursday/Friday and Saturday night we worked at the Gibbston Valley Summer Concert, setting the stage up and putting it away once it was finished.
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On Saturday day time we went back to Lake Hayes and walked all the way round it.
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After work on Saturday evening we made our way to Cromwell as we were due to start work at a vineyard in Alexandra (near Cromwell) on Monday. We camped out next to the Clutha River.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 17:15 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown lake work concert wine arrowtown hayes Comments (0)

Lake Manapouri to Queenstown via Milford Sound

South Island

From the swing bridge we drove to Manapouri which is just below Te Anu.
We walked along the lake and stayed in the ground of a motel.
It was a sunny day so also did some jobs on the van.
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The next day we started the long drive up to Milford Sound. First stop was Te Anu which was much bigger than I thought it would be. We followed the lake up the Milford Highway. This is a no end road which takes you as far as it can towards the sound. It takes 2 hours each way from Te Anu.
We had a cruise of Milford Sound booked at 9am on Sunday so we got as far up the highway at as we could on the Saturday. This took us to Lake Gunn where we fished for the afternoon. Chris caught 2 rainbow trout making the scores now 3-3!
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We stayed at a DOC campsite at the south of the lake.

In the morning we got uk early and drove to Milford Sound. The scenery was beautiful even though it was raining! There were waterfalls everywhere along the Rocky Mountains.
We did our cruise in the rain and got wet as we stood out on the deck to get a good view. It was impressive travelled down the sound to the Tasman sea.
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After the cruise we drove back to Te Anu and then inland towards Queenstown. We stopped at the south of Lake Wakatipu and smoked some of Chris’ trout. The weather wasn’t great again so we decided to keep moving and get up to Queenstown.
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We camped along the road to Glenorchy at 25mile creek on the north part of Lake Wakatipu.
In the morning we drove back to Queentsown to apply for jobs and then drove back along towards Glenorchy to do a walk. The scenery is amazing along this drive, it’s called the road to paradise and I can see why.
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We got close to the Routeburn track which is one of the NZ Great Walks (I would like to do it at some point) and did a shorter track to Lake Sylwen.
On our way back down we stopped in Glenorchy and walked around the lagoon and ended up camping in the same place as we did last night.
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Posted by Louisejhcowan 22:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown fishing walking lake trout camping sound milford campervan glenorchy tramping manapouri Comments (0)

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