Because there was well over half a meter of rainfall to the Milford Sound area a week or so ago and catastrophic damage to the roads we were unable to ride to Milford Sound which was our original plan but the road is now open to Bus Convoys so we went in one of those which was also good. After heavy rain overnight the waterfalls were thundering down the cliff faces ravines and valleys which was awesome … and we were all guilty of a nap or two at some stage having had an extra early start given the bus convoy option. Our cruise was lovely even if we didn’t get to see Mitre Peak, instead we saw hundreds and hundreds of waterfalls from what looked like thin ribbons to roaring galloping falls thundering down the hills and spraying water for hundreds of meters. Just wonderful to see. To quote our bus driver, there are higher mountains in the world, but nowhere do they head straight up out of the water. With the wet conditions outside for most of the day most of our memories are in our heads and not on camera.
First stop for a stretch.
Milford Mariner, our ride on the Sound. Was a lovely tidy boat with sleeping accommodation and does night cruises as well.
A massive waterfall near the wharf which flows from a glacier which is growing each year. Go figure!
Heading for the tunnel to head through the mountain and back from the west coast to the east coast. The strip in the middle is the roof over the approach to the tunnel and note just how high this is and yet way below the top of the mountain.
And we are back out the east side.
Heading out over a washout area, note the Dead Slow sign. All single file here.
Yet more falls.
Nearly back and now the sun comes out … still, should be good for tomorrows ride.
We headed up to Coronet Peak for a view out over Queenstown even higher up than the restaurant last night which was around 400m above sea level, my GPS told me we were above 1200m above sea level this morning so a higher road sealed than what was the highest one in 2000 obviously. From here we wound down the peak and through what looked like little leafy laneways and stone fences like in the UK except for the width as we headed for Frankton then on to Kingston for lunch and into Te Anau in beautiful sunshine.
Up to Coronet Peak for a look this morning before the tourists arrived and we waited until some paragliders and hang-gliders took off.
Great corners coming down from Coronet Peak this morning … and a lot of weird cambers on some of these corners.
Kingston Railway Station home of the Kingston Flyer sadly a heritage steam train which hasn’t run for a few years reliant on volunteers who over time have demonstrated a great enthusiasm for trains but not for business management as demonstrated by several bankruptcies. Really sad, we loved this run from Fairlight station to Kingston on our original coach trip in the late 80’s. Kingston is where the TSS Earnslaw was reassembled after being sent up on the train from Dunedin where it was initially constructed.
Lots of cattle and sheep in mobs around today.
Farming obvious throughout today.
Spillway at Lake Te Anau.
View to Te Anau from the spillway across Lake Te Anau with the mountains behind, just lovely. They are in all directions!
Our accommodation tonight an Airbnb tonight, the Lake House (address) which is just spectacular. Sleeps 20 plus people, looks out over Lake Te Anau. Beautifully presented, generously provisioned and wonderfully comfortably.
Again, and check out the view … which will be a theme for those following.
And again finally, just over the fence and the wind is picking up as you can see from the white caps.
A sleep in followed by a wander through the town for some, a leisurely ride for others and generally kicking back for the day. The evening saw us head up the gondola where some had a luge ride before dinner, and we all enjoyed the views as we dined in the Stratosfare Restaurant before we headed back down the gondola and home.
A revisit to the Cardrona area in brilliant sunshine instead of rain and this is the Bradrona effort to raise funds and awareness of breast cancer. Norm was impressed with what a great windbreak it gives the sheep sheltering behind it so helps the woolly girls as well.
A great find, Coronet Peak. This is from the car park area and where the chair life heads up to the snow fields.
And a view of Queenstown.
A view from the Gondola Stratosfare restaurant out over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu Awesome!
A sleep in followed by a picturesque ride to Glenorchy and back then a trip on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a Gourmet BBQ dinner and sheep shearing and rounding up demonstration. The weather has been just perfect. We will see what tomorrow brings.
First photo stop on the way to Glenorchy.
All the crew heading out, Chris on with Adrian and Tom on Chris’s bike.
First sight of snow on the way and lots more winding roads.
Coffee at Glenorchy.
Old water tower at Glenorchy.
The TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown this morning, will be our ride to dinner tonight.
The lakeshore at Queenstown.
The view from the Steamer Wharf back across Queenstown.
Dressing up the Louis Vuitton store while we grab an ice cream.
Walter Peak High Country Farm, an awesome property and incredibly professionally run. Was a great night.
The shearing session which was informative and entertaining.
Well the weather forecast was fine, but the weather was not. We travelled through rain fog and sunshine but the crappy weather didn’t dampen our spirits at all. We enjoyed a walk around some of the historic precinct of Cromwell and then onto Cardrona over the highest paved road in New Zealand then to Arrowtown for more walking and eating for some and then the Shotover Jetboat ride for 6 of our group and now chilling in our very nice apartment as a roast is being cooked. How fortunate are we!
Cromwell is very proud of their produce.
And a great find for coffee in the Historic precinct, the old Post Office and Telegraph Office … and a great quote on the wall “Drink Coffee, Do Stupid things with more energy”.
Looking across part of the lake, would be a nice place to sit and read.
Roaring Meg, and she really was roaring. Sad to see how much timber has been burnt in the past.
The Cardrona Hotel improved with some bikes in front of it … the riding crew.
And a view in their very attractive beer garden, but a bit wet to be there today even though you cannot see the rain here. I enjoyed steaming off in front of the open fire for a bit.
What a view … spoilt for choice as we heaad back. Wow!
At the top of the range sealed in 2000 and coming back down we could almost see the view below but going up we could hardly see where we were going and yes that was 1,076m above sea level.
The view down to Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown a fair way away.
Arrowtown, good looking bikes!
And another of the main street minus the bikes … see how ordinary it looks in comparison? My point exactly!
A great view in Arrowtown.
And the bridge just past the Shotover Jetboat site. Awesome canyon hence the jet boats.
Heading into Queenstown, awesome scenery.
The shopping crew off to buy what we need for our roast dinner and this is a very deceptive view because it is a really steep hill but doesn’t look like it here.
Our accommodation for the next three nights, Black Diamond Apartment Queenstown. Lovely and spacious with plenty of places to relax and generously provisioned with everything we need including in the bathrooms. A good find especially considering the New Zealand Open is on in town. Geared towards those who ski in the winter (hence the ski gear storage cupboard in the back yard and spot for ski boots in the airlock at the front door) and those who party the rest of the year like us (as the planes overhead and wine glasses in the cupboard are testimony to that).
Didn’t head off until just before 8.30am this morning in fine weather and throughout the day we had drizzle, rain and mist in no particular order until we were almost into Cromwell when we ended up with strong winds, dust storms, tumbleweed and a sudden spike in temperature to the point we were nearly all ready to fall down by the time we got our many layers off at the servo. Talk about one extreme to the other, now we just need to get everything which isn’t dry, dry before the morning. Should be doable. It’s been a day of extreme sights from rain forest with dense canopies over the roads, massive rock slides where literally sides of mountains have slid off (many of these over the last couple of days), wind torn beaches, kilometres and kilometres of turquoise lakes and now pretty intensive farming land. Incredible.
Yet another one way bridge.
Barry Bay and a sign on the road which says to beware of debris when there are high seas and you can see how it cuts up the road … some of the debris on the shore was a tree trunk complete with a lot of the root ball minus dirt!
Salmon farm for a yummy breakfast.
Longest single lane bridge in New Zealand (and we’re told the southern hemisphere) 737 m long with 2 passing bays and here it is with us coming.
And going, and the second passing bay is still beyond us.
Knights Creek lookout.
It’s official we were up Ship Creek …. thus named after a large chunk of a ship’s hull discovered there in 1867 which turned out to have been washed there from a shipwreck in 1855 in Victoria, Australia (the Schonberg) so how’s that for an awesome current across the Tasman!
Thunder Creek Falls.
Lots of water up and down, From the car park at the Blue Pools, given the weather we didn't go any further..
A lot of wind meant a lot of whitecaps on a lot of the lakes and milky sediment along the shores.
More beautiful lake views. The waves were nearly washing completely over the small island to the left.
A solid outcrop of rock in an otherwise flat valley not long before we got in. Curious.
Our accommodation for the night, the Colonial Manor Motel, Cromwell. Nice spacious rooms well laid out and comfortable. A good find.
We had an early and dark start heading off at 7am to get to Fox Glacier comfortably by 11am to book in for our 11.30am 30minute Franz Josef & Fox Glacier flight with a snow landing and we got to do it this time because the cloud was actually not as low or dense as last time.
A wander to the street for a pizza dinner last night helped us take some pics and the first was one of the local fire brigade doing a promotion shot.
The old fire station now apartments and another grand old building yet to be refurbished. The town was built with gold money hence the grand layout of the streets and the proportions of buildings.
And a school.
Mmmm, cloud not clearing very well.
An awesome long one-way bridge with double passing section in the middle.
A welcome coffee at Hari Hari.
Franz Josef main street with snow in the background … cloud also.
And a closer view of the snow and ice.
Great one lane bridge just out of Franz Josef.
Before the first group set off for the helicopter ride.
Glaciers! Actually on top on the snowfield which contribute to many glaciers with 30m of snow a year and the snow here is around 300m deep! Note the pink tinge being smoke and ash from our Aussie bushfires.
Apparently this peaking is an indication of how fast the glacier is moving.
Awesome sight and again you can see the pink tinge and when we picked up a handful you could actually see bits of ash in it.
Two country kids who cannot believe how blessed they are.
The Pilot grabs the marker to show where he has landed so other pilots know.
Heading back down and yep I was fortunate enough to have the front seat where Norm was in the middle at the last minute when we ended up with two extras. Grrr..
And this is how they progress to the sea.
Our accommodation for the night, the Bella Vista Motel Fox Glacier, again a compact but functional lay out, nice and clean and hosts very helpful. Walking distance to wherever we want to go. Shorter travel time today so time for a bit of a rest.
A beautiful day riding through large tracts of farming land forest and incredible mountains and our troops cannot believe that the awesomeness we promised is even better than they expected. Just glorious sights in every direction!
The quirky geography sights begin with a chilly and overcast morning.
Yay, the sun came out as we started to climb.
Climbing, climbing, first chance to pull over and look back and we only just got back on the bikes in time to beat a labouring truck.
More great sights.
The road opens for a bit.
Castle Hill, we didn’t walk to it because those who did looked about the size of ants from the car park.
Ski areas peel off from the road at regular intervals.
And then in the wilderness the Flock Hill Station established in 1857. Must be a rugged existence.
Making a mile and the troops are coming.
And down a big hill and we find another farm.
Awesome glacial valley.
And yep that’s snow in the distance.
Arthurs Pass Post Office and book exchange in an old fridge. Very quirky.
Lunch at Arthurs Pass. We had called into the historic Baileys Hotel, but it wasn’t opening until 3pm so we weren’t hanging around.
At the Otira Viaduct opened in 1999.
And here is the Viaduct with a 16% grade. We had to stop on it for quite a while waiting for broken down truck to be rescued and we were all leaning well back in our seats.
And the next lookout and wow! Was great to ride through it.
Our accommodation for the night, the Bella Vista Hokitika, compact but functional, nice and clean and hosts very helpful. Walking distance to wherever we want to go. Some awesome buildings here, will try and get some shots in the morning but we will be on a mission to get to our helicopter flight over the glaciers … so we will see.
Sleep in followed by some wandering around the streets, some window shopping and some more serious and for some a dip in the thermal pools. Very noticeably smaller numbers here than last year and an almost total absence of Asian faces as a result of the corona virus which is hitting the local economy very hard. Glorious sunshine all day and off on the bikes again tomorrow.
Wandering for a coffee but couldn’t get any takers for a joint bike ride … might have had something to do with comments of those wanting the back seats and saying they would pretend to pedal!
A view of Hanmer Springs.
Magnificent Redwoods planted along the front of the spa buildings. Awesome.
The beautiful Heritage Spa hotel.
A chilly start but soon warmed up and became wonderful sunshine and we had a brilliant day of riding, spectacular views of forests, farms, craggy cliffs, mountain passes and wide glacial valleys. Wow, wow and wow!
Close to sunset last night.
Awesome rocks … and the Tavern in the distance.
One of many beautiful and rugged beaches on our way to Greymouth.
An impressive memorial to the 400 plus people who have died in mining disasters in the Western Inspectorate of the Western region
Morning mist lifting as we head for Reefton.
Brunner Mill Memorial, the largest industrial disaster in New Zealand’s history. Was a catalyst for safer working practices.
Lots of dairy farming on the way.
And a train finally.
Sights in Reefton.
Main Street Reefton.
Great Glacial Valleys.
And another we named Adrian's Lookout since he found it down the end of a track for me.
Nearly into Hanmer Springs.
And our accommodation for the night the ASURE Hanmer Inn Motel beautifully presented, handy to town and hosts wonderful. We stayed here last year and were happy to return and bring the troops.