Queenstown, New Zealand
Day 11 – Queenstown to Wanaka
Given the fact that the Haast Pass was still not open and bad weather was expected on the West Coast for the weekend we decided to blow Queenstown and spend the day in Wanaka at the junction of State Highway 6 and 8. One highway will take us to the West Coast the other to Lake Tekapo and up the centre of the Canterbury Region to our destination of Hanmer Springs.
There were to ways we could reach Wanaka, a windy trek over the infamous Crown Ranges and a flatter route through Cromwell and the Gibson Valley. With Debi very nervous about high windy roads we took the route through the Gibson Valley home to many fine wineries. Temped to stop for a tipple we kept driving as we would have plenty of time to visit wineries in the Marlborough Region. We rolled into Wanaka a very pretty town at 12.00pm just in time for lunch at the Speights Ale House where we had another seafood chowder (NZ is famous for seafood chowder) and some battered blue cod (another popular dish).
We spent the rest of the day visiting two tourist attractions, Warbirds and Wheels which was well worth the visit and Puzzling World which had some amazing illusions, rooms that defied gravity and a huge maze. We started off in the maze and Debi said all we have to do is go left at every turn, some thirty minutes later we hadn’t even reached the first check point and after another 10 minutes of turning right, because left sure didn’t work, we took an emergency exit.
Back in town we stocked up on some supplies and settled in for an early night. Tomorrows road report and the weather will dictate our travel itinerary.
Day 12 – Wanaka to Lake Tekapo
We wake this morning and for the first time on our holiday it is raining, we check the news and the Haast Pass has opened but is under a watch depending on the weather (predicting storms for the weekend). Debi watches the news with some footage from a helicopter flying over the pass and nearly has a heart attack as she spots the devastation the avalanche had caused and hears that two young tourists in their RV had been washed away and found dead this morning. We step out on our balcony and look west, the sky is black………decision made, we are heading to Lake Tekapo, the glaciers will have to wait.
We refuel for the second time this trip and I notice the price of ULP is NZ $2.20 but the price of diesel is NZ $1.56…….what’s the go in Australia, diesel is the same price as ULP or higher. Hint………hire a diesel if you intend to drive a lot of kilometers in NZ.
As we leave town the weather clears and we see blue sky over Mackenzie Country which is where we are heading. We climb the Lindt Pass at 9000m and Debi starts to worry but to her surprise the road was excellent. On passing through Twizel a Hydro Power town, we noticed the lakes were very different to those we had now become accustomed to, they were turquoise in color. This phenomenon is apparently caused by ‘rock flour’ or rock dust particles suspended in the water).We passed the turn-off to Mt Cook a 55km detour but decided to keep going as Debi did not want to do any more mountain climbing. Shortly after I was looking for a rest stop so we decided to drop into a roadside isite, which just happened to have a café selling local Salmon. We bought a sashimi package and sat on the side of the lake to eat it. Wow it was delicious!
Half an hour later we rolled into Lake Tekapo, we noticed that the water level was very low, and the lake was not blue (not sure why) and also noticed the township was some what run down. Everybody told us that Lake Tekapo was a must do, but I don’t see why, maybe we had expected more or just caught it at a bad time.
We booked into a Motel overlooking the lake, (I think they all overlook the lake) then checked out the eateries and not seeing anything that grabbed us we settled for a lamb roll for lunch. Not far from our motel the Church of the Good Shepard was beckoning us, so we took a stroll along the lake and arrived at the same time as 50 Japanese tourists disembarked from their bus. Bad timing…….not really it seems that you can’t avoid tourists at this spot as buses seemed to arrive every 10 minutes or so. We took the proverbial photos and headed back to our room to update the blog and here it is!
Tomorrow we head via the Alpine Route towards Christchurch on our way to Hanmer Springs. We are no sure if we should break the journey or forge on to the Springs. We are currently on schedule so we will decide en-route.