Cruise South-East Asia and On to Australia / New Zeland travel blog

Calm Ferry Ride Between Islands

An Indication of the # of Motorhomes Rented

Grapes for White Wine

West Coast - South Island

More Coastal Scenery

Unbelievable Vegetation on South Coast

More Coastal Scenery

Shitbox Ralley Car

Sand and more sand


What Can I Say?

Although our 3 hour trip on the ferry across the Cook Sound to the South Island was overcast we were encouraged by a fine forecast for the week. Our destination was Milford Sound to the south but that meant at least two days of roughly 400 kilometres per day on unfamiliar roads. We were pleased to find good two lane hardtop! Rest stops are minimal throughout New Zealand on highways where one would be lucky to find a picnic table and an outhouse....likely not either.

We tried finding Kathy's favourite winery in the Marlborough region but to her dismay was more of a conglomerate who buy other vinyard's grapes and produces wine for export. No photos of her hugging the proprietor, sorry. Our target this day was Greymouth, The temperature was moderate with sunny skies to help out our travels along this very pretty coast. The motel was great including a barbecue to do our own thing - small steak, salad and garlic bread. We left air conditioned rooms in Australia and it is sure nice to have a window open all night.

The next morning we continued our trek along the coast to Wanaka. An hour into the drive a seagull munching on road kill became one himself. We both ducked as in his effort to fly away he struck the windshield with a loud bang! Expecting to see the windshield shattered, lo and behold some blood but the windshield was still intact.....Parts of the coast were spectacular with pounding surf, shear cliffs and rock abutments sticking out of the water at odd angles. At one point we were able to get onto the beige sand shores (many beaches are dark gravel or sand due to volcanic history). The midges (black flies) were bad but we had been forewarned.

We encountered a car rally involving 70 well used cars driven by Aussies and Kiwis to raise funds for cancer research. They called it the "Shitbox Rally" and none of the cars could have been purchased for over $1000. They were absolutely everywhere and had raised close to $500k to that point.

Our hotel in Wanaka overlooked a lake and had a nice balcony. We went looking for a restaurant for dinner and checked menus on 12 of them and settled for the 2nd we looked at. It is a hot yuppie community with lots to do in a very pretty setting. We had left the coastline and were driving through a mix of mountains and picturesque valleys.

The next misty morning we headed for a brief look at Queenstown before heading to our day's destination of Te Anu, the gateway to Milford Sound. We travelled through vineyards and mountain gorges before ending up in Queenstown, the Whistler of New Zealand. See later entry as well as Lord of the Rings entry. We still had two hours to Te Anu and again the drive was a mix of arid hills, mountain passes, valleys with cattle, dairy herds, sheep and lambs.

Te Anu is a small unpretentious community on a huge pristine lake. In our opinion it is the best jumping off point to Milford Sound versus Queenstown or other cities. Don't let any tour operator scare you from driving to Milford Sound as the roads are generally good depending on the season. If you have ever driven in the mountains of BC or Alberta you will not have a problem with the numerous motor homes, passenger vans and many full size tour buses on the road with the exception of generally having shoulders on the road.

Fact: fuel prices for 91 octane vary from $2.06 to $2.42 per litre. Diesel is around $1.35 per litre so get a diesel vehicle if it makes sense for your travel plans.

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