New Zealand photo journal
I really did try to edit my 480 photos down to a select few, honest I did, but it’s just too stunning. So here are 46 (!) carefully selected pics from our Feb 2013 week in South Island New Zealand.
After a very early (5am) arrival in Christchurch we drove over to Lyttleton for a superb brekkie at the quirky Samo Coffee Lounge – delicious coffee and a mahoosive omelette. Bit of a melancholy start to the day seeing the extent of the damage from the earthquakes, made even more eerie viewed at sunrise on a chilly and quiet Saturday morning. Cheered by the misty morning stillness of the Lyttleton Harbour and beautiful blue skies.
Spent the morning slowly winding our way to Akaroa via the scenic bays and villages of the north Banks Peninsula. This was the slightly terrifying Pigeon Bay road – 10kms of unsealed, very narrow, very steep scariness – thanks Google maps! Hurray for the 4WD hire car. Spectacular views all the way.
Home for 2 nights in Akaroa – The Gatekeepers Cottage at Kokopu Estate. Cute loft apartment with a little courtyard (goldfish pond included) and great views of the mountains. A short stroll up the track (accompanied by Fergus the dog) takes you to a little vineyard and veggie garden which supplies the owners restaurant – Vangionis. 100% lovely!
After a tasty dinner at The Little Bistro we had a 7am start for a sunrise Kayaking excursion in Akaroa Harbour. Couldn’t have asked for better weather, still, blue and warm. And 10 minutes in we had the local Hector’s Dolphins swimming with us and performing the occasional leap. Check out Akaroa Kayaks if you’re ever in the area.
Evidence – me paddling, the husband taking it easy.
Pretty house in Akaroa
Akaroa got a bit vexing in the afternoon when a cruise ship arrived and spilled its slow (and rather round) cargo out on to the narrow streets. So we took a drive up over the Summit Road to Okains Bay and Little Akaloa Bay. Panorama-a-rama.
Walked along Okains Bay beach as the tide came in – daft shades of blue.
So, the camera decided this one ought to be in black and white! Views of Okains Bay from another of those steep and viewsome Kiwi roads.
Milky blue waters of Little Akaloa Bay, plus pretty pine cone infested branch.
Giggle. Stopped at Hinewai Reserve on the way back to Akaroa for what turned out to be quite a taxing walk to Jules Knob (giggle, again). Some excellent posing by the husband. The reserve is beautiful, would have loved to explore it further.
A bit of a chill out then down to town for dinner at L’Hotel right on the waters edge. I had this seafood pizza last time we were here and it’s still AWESOME. Washed down with a bottle Te Whare Ra Riesling. Nice.
Oh look – another food shot! No trip to the Banks Peninsula is complete without a stop at the Little River Cafe. Counters overflowing with deliciousness, a leaf-dappled courtyard and a gallery to nose around. Sad to leave Akaroa, but SO happy to stop here again.
Halfway point on the 5 hour drive to Mount Cook – impossibly blue Rakaia River Gorge.
That’s better! It was a bit grey the last time we passed this way. Off-the-chart blue Lake Tekapo.
Mount Cook comes into view – morning walk in the Hooker Valley.
Suspension Bridge No.2 on the Hooker Valley walk. Just stunning.
Lots of standing about in slack-jawed amazement at the brilliance of nature. Views of the Mueller Glacier from suspension bridge No.1
Aaaanother bridge picture. Photo editing fail. Last one, promise.
Walk no.2 – to Tasman Glacier view point – with Mount Cook in the distance looking rather splendid.
Tasman Glacier terminal lake – it has little ice bergs floating in it. (And boat loads of Japanese tourists).
Sunny spot for a picnic.
Afternoon stroll (ahem – epic climb) up Mount Sebastopol to the Red Tarns. My legs will ache for 3 days after this.
Aoraki Mount Cook Village and Mount Cook – from the Red Tarns. Oh my.
Probably the most scenic YHA ever. Fabulous little hostel.
Onwards to Queenstown – Lake Pukaki with a distant Mount Cook – we HAVE to come back here some day.
After a pit stop for coffee in Twizel we had a quick scramble about in the clay cliffs at Omarama – funny place, looks like a film set that got left behind.
Wanaka – and beer. At Speights Ale House.
So, we’ll just have a light snack then… light snack fail. But oh, so tasty :)
Little detour down the west side of Lake Wanaka to Parkins Bay. Couldn’t resist a paddle in the crystal clear waters. Views of Mount Aspiring and the Aspiring ranges.
Finished up our drive to Queenstown via the scenic Crown Range Road. Staying at a hostel at Mount Cook = amazeballs apartment with lake views and hot tub in Queenstown. This is the actual view from the bed. Cue more slack-jawed staring.
Engage smug mode.
Had an early start and watched Man U vs Real Madrid at the local Irish pub, followed by banana pancakes at Pier19… Then up to Bob’s Peak on the vertiginous gondola and… LUGE! Oh, and more views.
SO MUCH FUN (Don’t we look fetching in our pretty hats)
More viewing from Bob’s Peak – with a freshly fallen bungier. Not my cup of tea, I’m going galloping tomorrow!
Post galloping (and downhill mountain biking for the husband) massive sarnies at Glenorchy cafe. Ride was ace – had Blue (a black horse), no photos sadly as very warm day and no pockets for camera – the lovely Julie might send me some pics tho – so watch this space for an update. If you’re a horsey type I can’t recommend Dart Stables highly enough – and there’s plenty of Lord of the Rings trivia too if you like that sort of thing.
After lunch walk (limp, hobble) around Glenorchy. Mount Earnslaw and friends in the distance.
Ha ha – someone might have overdone it earlier on the mountain biking. Still, not a bad place to fall over. And it’s not far to the hot tub either, reckon we’ll survive.
Tastiest tapas ever – at Eichartd’s Hotel. Surprisingly bargainous food considering the price of the rooms at this fancy place – and we thought we’d splashed out!
Had to be done – 180 degree lake views. Can’t stop taking pictures of it.
Bit of a scary drive up the Remarkables Road for views of the Kawarau River – oh and a cheeky cake from Vudu cafe
Last day – SOB. Over to Arrowtown for a tasty brekkie. Legs too achy for walking (pathetic) so decided to try our luck at gold panning for a few hours. Very pleasant afternoon by the river but alas no golden nuggets.
Back to QT via the Shotover River Gorge. Dropped off Rupert the Rav4 at the car rental office (sniff). And had a big glass of beer. Final evening dinner at the Botswana Butchery – oh the tastiness. Started with peking duck pancakes – devine – followed by a rare fillet steak and the most amazing roast potatoes I’ve ever encountered.
Up early for the flight back to Melbourne. Farewell, Land of the Long White Cloud, you’ve been spectacular.
Until next time…
Are you still here? Well done! It really is the most magical of places – get down there if you can.
Look what just arrived in my inbox! My New Zealand riding buddy, Julie has sent me some awesome pics of our horsey adventure – here are a few…
That’s Julie on Danny and me on Blue – happy memories, thanks Julie!