Category Archives: Holidays & Travel Pics

Thursday – Arthurs Pass to Lake Tekapo

 

We started the day with a hearty breakfast and a half day trek to the Bridal Veil falls and back. Unfortunately these were a little disappointing as you couldn’t get very close and the view was obscured by heavily overgrown bush. Despite that, the trek through the beech forest was a lovely walk.

Then on to Lake Tekapo. This was a long drive, over 300 kms, and took us all afternoon, not helped by our frequent photo stops! Here is a picture of the Waimakariri river valley as you leave Arthurs Pass…

Later, the scenery started to change, first to the more arid foothill shown below, and then to the vast expanse of the Canterbury Plains.

We finally arrived at Lake Tekapo just as the sun was going down, just in time to grab this shot of the lovely little Church of the Good Shepherd which sits quietly on the lakeshore.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

Then to our campsite, also right on the lake shore. It was pretty busy here, with all the motels and cabins taken and only a few tent pitches left. I think there were a lot of people escaping the Christchurch earthquake had come to Tekapo to get away and to find temporary schooling for their kids.

Again we got a pitch overlooking the lake…

… and while I sizzled some steaks on the barbie, Megan took a couple of shots of the lake at sunset …

Lake Tekapo at Sunset

Lake Tekapo Sunset

And so ended the fifth day.

Wednesday – Hokitika to Arthur’s Pass

Hokitika was a nice town, though we didn’t take many pictures there. One shot Megan did get was the driftwood ‘sign’ on the beach which has become something of an icon for the town (you see it on tee-shirts and allsorts)

Hokitika

Highlight of our stay in Hokitika was the Kiwi House – an exhibit where they have a couple of real live kiwis in a nocturnal setting and we watched them rooting around for grubs and digging and sniffing underground with their long beaks – quite fascinating. At the same place they also had giant eels (a couple of meters long and as thick as your thigh!), ordinary eels which we got to feed ourselves, and some tuatara (iguana like lizard things that date back to the dinosaurs and are found only on NZs South Island). Well worth a visit.

Striking out for Arthurs Pass, we stopped off at Londonderry Rock – a huge boulder which the early gold miners managed to dislodge from the mountainside and which apparently made quite a noise when it fell. It was kind of buried a bit in the bush so getting a photo of the whole thing was tricky, but it weighs between 30000 and 40000 tons (big rock!). Here is a pic of Megan lifting up one end of it.

Megan lifts Londonderry Rock by herself - Amazing!!!

The road to Arthurs Pass was a stunning mountain highway with beautiful scenery around every twist and turn. The whole Southern Alps are very unstable, and parts of the road are prone to regular rock falls and landslips. This pic shows a rock shelter, and you can see evidence of the latest landslip above it. Note also the waterfall, er…, shute, roof, umbrella thingy too.

Otira Highway Rock Shelter

A little further on is the Otira Highway Viaduct which they built when they got tired of having to re-route the road every time there was a rockfall. The original highway went up above the slip on the right of the photo, but apparently never stayed in one place for long!

Otira Highway Viaduct

Once at Arthurs Pass we treated ourselves to a motel room and then went in search of the Devils Punchbowl Falls. A 30 minute trek brought us to these spectacular views.

Devils Punchbowl Falls

Devil's Punchbowl Falls (top half)

Devils Punchbowl Falls Closeup

A hearty meal and a well earned beer in the Wobbly Kea restaurant, and that was the end of day 4.

Tuesday – Fox Glacier, Lake Matheson, and up to Hokitika

First stop from the township of Fox Glacier was a brief excursion out to Lake Matheson. Unfortunately it was a little cloudy that morning so the views of Mount Cook reflected in the lake (like you see on all the postcards) were a little elusive. However, the view was still good.

Mount Cook reflected in Lake Matheson

A closer view of Mount Cook

Then we returned to visit Fox Glacier itself. We were surprised at how filthy it was, naively expecting a pristine white wall of ice. This may be how it is up top, but by the time it reaches the bottom of the valley it has collected hundreds of tons of debris from rock falls and erosion, and the bottom section is a filthy mixture of rock and ice.

Fox Glacier

It is hard to get the size from this photo. Here is a close up of part of the lower glacier where a guided party of tourists are walking on the ice.

People on Fox Glacier – get the size of the thing now?

The Fox River emerges from a small ice cave at the foot of the glacier (all the melt-water tends to drain down through crevaces in the glacier and emerge at the foot of the ice wall at ground level). The river carries boulders of ice with it. The ones below are just small ones, but chunks the size of a camper van fall off the front face daily!

Ice boulders

From Fox we drove north up the coastal highway to Hokitika. As time was short we skipped the Franz Joseph Glacier, and made it to Hokitika early evening in time to pitch tent and burn some chicken on the barbeque!

Monday – Through the Haast Pass to Fox Glacier

Hawea to Fox

We left the campsite at Hawea early, snapping this shot of a dawn fisherman as we were striking camp.

Dawn fisherman on Lake Hawea

We headed down the southern tip of the lake just the check out the view…

Lake Hawea from the South Shore

… and then drove up the west shore of the lake …

… and at ‘The Neck’ we left Lake Hawea …

Lake Hawea at The Neck

and joined up with the eastern shore of Lake Wanaka.

From the top of Lake Wanaka you enter the valley of the Makarora river and follow it up through the Haast Pass. Beautiful scenery, and we just had to stop off at numerous places along the way to snap a few waterfalls and so on. Here’s a shot of the Fantail falls half way along the pass. We also stopped at the Thunder Creek falls and the Roaring Billy, as well as the Blue Pools.

The Fantail Falls, along the Haast Highway

After taking so long getting through the pass (and little wonder with scenery like this…)

Haast Pass - just another typical spectacular view.

it was getting close to tea time by the time we passed through Haast itself, and we still had a ways to go, so it was foot down to Fox Glacier where we treated ourselves to a room in the lodge at the camping ground and a long hot shower 🙂

Sunday – Invercargill to Cromwell and Lake Hawea

Invercargill to Hawea

Our little tiki-tour of the South Island started with a drive up to Cromwell Races where All Spice was racing. He came in fifth this time, and here he is working his way up the field.

After the races we drove on to Lake Hawea, arriving at the campsite early evening. We had a pitch right on the lake front with not another soul in sight, and it was idylic. Here’s a snap of the tent on the lakefront, and the spectacular view.

Lake Hawea campsite.

Lake Hawea campsite.

After tea cooked on the barbeque and an early night, I awoke before dawn to the most spectacular array of stars and the milky way stretching across the night sky. With no light for miles around and a crystal clear sky, the stars were unbelievable, and I just had to try to capture it on camera…

Starry Sky