Thursday 24 and Friday 25 March 2016

I am not overly keen on coach travel and often spend much of my time on coaches asleep and today is not greatly different from the norm!

However what has been exercising the tour party today are rumours about our next overnight stay.

On the way south we stop at Hokitika for a lunch break taken at a Jade Factory – the shop is a busy place.  There is a camera shop “Photo Corner” at the far end of the town and after a bit of a hunt around I manage to buy a cable for the Canon camera which I had not packed and which they were unable to sell me in a camera shop near Melbourne.  So this is a real one up for New Zealand.  Well done Photo Corner!

Anyway the rumours continue of flooding at our overnight stop and with poor mobile signals our poor guide is having trouble establishing the facts.

We started the drive in the highlands and then spend the rest of the morning travelling along more or less at sea level with the sea off to our right.  In the afternoon the scenery changes and we are travelling through a tropical rainforest.  Rainfall levels in this area are very high as the weather comes in from the west and the rain is dumped as the clouds meet the mountains – just like those geography lessons 50 years ago!

However it seems that the staff accommodation at our planned destination has been flooded (all down to heavy rain) so that it cannot take us.  A very acceptable alternative is found at the Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef, not far from the glacier.  After a longish day of travel we decide to wander out to eat at the Indian restaurant along the road we had spotted as we drove into town.  Due to the rain we cannot walk to the glacier as the route is treacherous.  We do get a good sight of it from the road in the morning.  In the light of the rumours we are glad to have somewhere to lay our heads.  We have done nothing all day – but still feel tired!

Come the morning it is time for our onward journey to Queenstown.  The good news is that the weather has started looking better and we can almost feel the sunshine coming on.  As we travel we also see evidence of the reason for the country’s other name as we see evidence of the “long white cloud” hanging at a lower level through the hills.  Hopefully some of the photographs here will demonstrate that there is a good reason for the name.

Queenstown is on Lake Wakatipu – actually alongside the Frankton arm (or inlet).  However on the opposite side of the lake are some mountain peaks known as “The Remarkables”.  We have driven through some very thinly populated areas and Queenstown is not large – but is very clearly thriving.