15th August – Kaikoura to Timaru – Cloudy
We spent the night camping in a lovely campsite by a snow-capped mountain. The staff gave us a free visit to the spa as a Honeymoon gift – It cleared both our colds! 🙂
We spent the morning sight-seeing in Kaikoura bay and browsing the tourist shops before setting off on an exhausting 4 hour drive to Timaru. The weather heading into Timaru was really gloomy – Not a great sign. On top of this, the campsite seemed to be in the middle of a really built up area on the edge of a housing estate – A first!
Once we’d settled for the night I got an emergency call from work which I dealt with whilst Leela finished off more of the Thank-you cards.
16th August – Timaru to Dunedin – Dry with Sunny Spells
Today we set off for Dunedin with a stop off at the Moereki Boulders, large unusual rocks that have slowly been uncovered on the beach by the erosion of the Pacific Ocean.
We arrived at our Dunedin campsite late in the afternoon, and dropped in on an old school friend, Paul Charters, who is now living there with his wife & kids. Enjoyed catching up, it?s been years since we last met.
17th August – Dunedin to Te Anau – Sunny + Foggy at altitude
We got up nice and early for a change today to visit the Dunedin Peninsula, unfortunately some very thick fog decided to join us. Visited Larnach Castle, a very nice interesting building if a little strange (it’s not exactly a real castle).
We stayed for brunch before heading off for Te Anau. The drive might have been 3 hours, but through the most amazing countryside with panoramic views of snow-capped mountains. We passed through Clinton the “3 horse town” (we saw none!) and on to Gore down the Presidential Highway :).
At Te Anau we camped by a gorgeous lake, surrounded by more snow-capped mountains. We?re very excited about tomorrow’s trip, setting off for Milford Sound. The locals have told us the recent avalanche has finally been cleared and the roads are open once again. Hopefully we won’t have to use our snow chains!
18th August – Te Anau to Milford Sound – Sunny
Took a walk into town to book tomorrow’s kayaking excursion and to find some lunch. Found a nice small bakery and has some tasty Cheese & Ham Toasties. Before setting off for Milford Sound we stopped off at Te Anau lake which was beautiful. Took a few photos of us with the mountains and lake in the background.
Finally we set off on our journey to Milford Sound, which went much better than we’d anticipated. Much of the road was fairly straight through flat terrain with excellent views of the mountains all around. Our first stop was at Mirror Lake, which as the name suggests is a small sheltered lake which reflects the mountains around like a mirror.
Quite a bit further up the road we finally hit the twisty mountain roads and the “Avalanche Zones”, where we found the remains of last week’s avalanche banked up at the sides of the road. In the middle of these zones were small areas where vehicles are allowed to stop. Found loads of tourists making snowmen and taking photos of helicopters – So we just had to join in 🙂
We finally arrived at our Milford Sound chalet at 4pm for our first night of 3!
19th August – Milford Sound – Glorious sunshine
Early start today to move our van next to our chalet. We’re in a beautiful location below a mountain with waterfalls running down into a river flowing past us.
After breakfast we went kayaking with Jason from Rosco’s Kayaks. We changed into our stripy thermals (very attractive), a thick polo neck jumper, a yellow waterproof, a life jacket and finally a rubber “skirt” (attaches to the kayak to keep water out). We then proceeded to get eaten by Sand Flies whilst Jason took us through the dos and don’ts of kayaking.
With the sun beating down on us, we headed out onto the Sound – Leela at the front paddling and me at the back paddling and steering. Out on the Sound we saw lots of seals, waterfalls, native ducks and Mitre Peak which stands over 1 mile high. We had lunch sat in the middle of the sound, with everyone in the group holding each others kayaks together. It was now time to head back to land, another 6km of paddling. This last 6km was extremely hard and our arms were very tired, the thought of a cosy chalet and a nice meal to return home to kept us going. The total round trip came to approx 14km.
20th August – Milford Sound – Cloudy
Woke up after a really nice sleep in a wonderful soft cosy bed. The chalet is great – nice and warm, wonderful views, has under-floor heating, a big bath and a huge TV! Much better than your average camp-site by far!
We took another trip out onto the Sound – This time for a much more relaxing cruise. The boat went out much further than we did in the kayaks. In fact, it seemed to get where we turned around in the kayaks in minutes compared to the hours it took to row.
Along the route the boat made a few stops to show us some rare Blue Penguins, seal colonies, and a waterfall he drove the boat under, filling a tray of glasses with fresh clean water to drink. On the way back we stopped off at a small underwater observatory which gave us a look at some of the underwater wildlife in the area.
Once the sun went down we made a trip out to the glowworm walk trail in the pitch black darkness. Unfortunately along the way we were blinded by lights from a passing van and walked straight past them. Eventually our eyes got used to the darkness again, we found our way back on the trail and found the glowworms back near the start of the trail! Doh 🙂
21st August – Milford Sound to Queenstown – Sunny
Our last morning in Milford Sound. We set off after breakfast at around 11am and stopped for a 20 min walk to a waterfall. The trail was through a lovely tropical forest.
We travelled at a leisurely pace through the avalanche zones and straight on towards Te Anau, stopping occasionally to take more photos along the way.
The drive to Queenstown was gorgeous, through the mountain ranges and overlooking a very picturesque lake/bay. Again, a fantastic photo session as the sun set.
Queenstown and the campsite itself was heaving, it turned out that afternoon was the opening of the Winter Games. After a walk around town we headed back to the campsite for an early night as we were both totally wiped out by the journey.