Up early to see Lake Matheson for a quick walk around the lake, due to the low cloud and light breeze, there isn’t any great mountain reflections on the lake’s surface. Tried the visitors café instead and bought two NZ baseball caps in the gift shop to blend in with the locals ! Head up the valley towards the Fox Glacier, it’s only a half hour climb but more rugged than Franz Joseph yesterday, this time we get to within 200m of the glacier, there is water streaming out from the base of the glacier and we gain a better view of this force of nature.
Haast, it’s a long way from anywhere
Time to head south for Haast and the wild west coast, there are very few settlements on this side of the island, the beaches are plagued with sandflies at certain points, we stop in Bruce Bay a beach covered with washed up and stripped bare tree branches but there are so many sand flies it is impossible to stay long. We stopped for a snack in Haast, mistake! the supermarket was empty of supplies and sold moldy bread, exit quickly, found a bar for chips and coffee, strange…country western songs and thousands of Antlers hanging from the rafters. Note to myself … wind up the windows, lock the doors, don’t stop keep going…
The Haast pass closes at 6pm because of a land slip, half the road is missing down the valley gorge ! Long drive up past the flood plains and a steep climb through the mountains, spectacular !
Stop in several places for photos, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, ” The lighting of the beacons” LOTR filmed here, stunning mountain outline and peaks. Wow.
Stay near the centre of Wanaka with views of the lake from the south, head for town and a couple of beers in a bar on the front. 23.12.2013
Breakfast with a sprinkling of snow on the peaks… stunning view of the mountains.
Direction Cromwell, through rolling mountains covered with small yellow flowers, beside the lake are lots of Wineries, we head into the Old Town* Cromwell, rebuilt after the flooding of the lake, visit a café on the shore. (*Old Town means over 100 years.) Stop further on by another old gold mining gorge on the Kawarau river, take the foot bridge over the steep-sided and fast running river to see the winery.
Steep climbs and mountainous terrain follow, drive past the Nevis Bungy, somewhere remote, stop to look at the next Bungy bridge just outside Queenstown. New visiter centre, café, live feed, film and viewing gallery. People jumping from the bridge and being caught and pulled into the boat. Some jumpers getting wet in the river…we will return when it stops raining….
Down into Queenstown to our Top 10 site, very packed in, shame really, but limited space. Walk into the town center and around the harbour, twice, beers,food very young crowd, full of shops open late and offering sales as soon as they close. Very commercial and a shock to the system after so much wilderness and the quiet of Wanaka and the west coast. People buying boxes of carry-outs to sit by the lake and drink, all wearing christmas hats, could get interesting later,.. one of the reasons alcohol and overnight camping is banned in the centre of Wanaka. The views over Lake Wakatipu are stunning. A Countdown to Christmas Day….that´s a new one. 24.12.2013