Queenstown and Milford Sound (not!)
Mar 3, 2018
|Today we drove from Franz Joseph town to Queenstown, supposedly 5 hours. We left at 9:00 am and arrived at 5:30 pm. We stopped along the way at views, and it rained off and on, never saw the sun. We saw the Fox glacier, rain forest, Tasman Sea (Pacific) . There are three places in the world where glaciers connect with rain forest. Two are at the glaciers Fox and France Joseph. The third is in Patagonia in South America.
Driving here is really interesting . New Zealand has 2 islands; we are on the south one. The major highway on the west side is Highway 6. It is composed of a two lane Highway with out any shoulders. The width is comparable to a county road in Kansas. Space All bridges are only one way. There is a circular sign on one side or the other, no consistency, that says give away. If you are on the giveaway side you have to stop and let the other cars come past you. There is no rhyme or reason for the giveaway sign. If a big tour bus comes by it covers 99% of its Lane. There are also bicycle us along the route everywhere. You must wait and wait and wait until it is safe to pass 1 metre away from them. The roads are mountainous and very Windee and you must slow down to 15 km which is 10 miles an hour, at some of the curves. Quite exciting. When we were on a tourist bus on the left side which would be the orutside, I really thought that we were off the edge.
We drove through glacier country and the rain forest, and then we drove along the western coast road. The clouds were hanging low and it was very beautiful and desolate. It is very sparsely populated here. Along the road which was 50 km long there were some villages with a total of 200 people who live here. Every way you look is incredible beauty!!!!
The scenery was beautiful here and there were many opportunities to take a hike. We walked through the swamp forest, very black water. We also walked out to the blue pools across a one person wide seinging bridge. We had a picnic lunch, andbput our fingers in the Tasman Sea. The scenery was beautiful here!!!
We passed by Wanaka town and lake Wanaka ; over a hill and there was Lake Havea. On to Queensrown and our hotel.
Lake Wakatipu... the three largest lakes on the south island. This drive was incredibly picturesque. The town's along this drive remind me of small towns in Idaho or Wyoming or Montana. Such as Sun Valley or Jackson hole.
We are here for three days. Checked into our hotel Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown. Really, it is a large 250 rooms. There sre 6 huge tourist buses and so many suitcases! It is very organized. Our room faces the lake with an amazing view. We leave the curtains open and the windows open because this hotel does not have air conditioning. I think that is because it never gets warm enough. There is no issue with privacy. We look out over the lake. We are tired after our long day, so went to the grocery for supplies. We got wine, brie and crackers and ate in our room with the great view of the lake.
We get up early for our 6:50 pickup for the plane ride (maybe). Weather dependebt!
I expected Queenstown to be larger. It was one of the two towns we considered flying into. Now that I see that it is only 28,000 people, and I have seen the airport.... Christ Church is the only place to land a large plane.
Sunday: our flight for Millford Sound was cancelled due to weather there. Since we were dressed and ready to go at 6:45, we walked to the town center, had a cup of coffee at the pavillion on the beach, and watched the town wake up! Bt 10:00am, it was crowded!!!
We were able to go on the afternoon part of our tour to the Dart River. I was not very excited to go: an hour each way on a big bus on windy, hilly roads; an amusement-park-type ride on a fast jet boat for 90 minutes, and a walk through the mossy forest with biting black sand flies..... and all in the rain!!! Stopped at the pharmacy for dramamine, and off we went!
The ride was ok. We got on one of the two jet boats in our full length slickers and life jackets and got the safety rules. When driver Liam circles his arm over his head, it means we are going to do a 360! Ugh. I just closed my eyes, grabbed the hand rail for dear life, and it was over quickly. We did 8 on our 90 minute trip on the Dart River. Actually the trip was very educational. Every 10 minutes we stopped and got a geology lesson or a history lesson about the river.
We had dinner st the Blue Ksnu, polynesian fusion. Really good!!! We had shitski mushroom egg rolls and lamb curry and a bottle of wine:?$96.00. I do not understand how people here afford it: everything is very expensive by our standards. But minimum wage is $22.50.