Land of the Long White Cloud,
August, 2002


13th April, 2002
14th April, 2002
15th April, 2002

Saturday, 13th April, 2002

Drop Cap p at the usual time but what with thinking we had plenty of time we got late and managed to leave our bottled water behind. A quick trip back to the station to catch the Tranzalpine through the mountains to the west coast at Greymouth.

Arthurs Pass photograph

David, Mavis and Keith at Arthur's Pass

Drop Cap his was a truly spectacular journey and I only wish I had been able to take some photos. The observation car was not only open to the elements, rocking enthusiastically, but also crowded with Japanese and other tourists. However, it was lovely, not much snow to be seen but spectacular scenery, viaducts, braided rivers, etc. We passed tiny communities which were mainly summer holiday places and the town of Cass with one permanent resident! It was just a great trip, with a short break to stretch our legs at Arthur's Pass. We arrived at Greymouth at 13:15, ten minutes early!

Hokitika mural photogaph

Mural on Buildings in Hokitika, NZ

Drop Cap e were picked up by our new driver, whose real name is Mike but we all tend to say "Warren". He says he will change it by deed poll. He took us to a town called Hokitika, full of crafts people, where we looked round a jade factory and I spent my birthday money (and some of my own) on a lovely jade and gold pendant.

Drop Cap fter a toasted sandwich lunch I went to look for wood and glass studios. I liked the glass but Mac didn't. But we bought a little box made of ancient Kauri wood, decorated with paua shell and a tiny starfish.

Franz Josef Glacier photogaph

Franz Josef Glacier

Drop Cap hen we headed off to Franz Josef Glacier where we stay tonight. Lyn offered us the choice of going to the hotel, or to stay on the bus and go to see the glacier. The weather, unfortunately, was deteriorating, so only nine of us decided to go. I was worried that my knee wouldn't hold up, but it did, thirty minutes to the river and view point and back. It was great! Wild and remote but reasonably accessible. I was really glad I went.

Moraine photogaph

Moraine of Franz Josef Glacier, NZ

Moraine photogaph

On the Moraine

Drop Cap he hotel, which is really more like a motel, looks quite new and seems comfortable. Dinner in half an hour.


Quite a pleasant table d'hote menu - we both had fishcakes, then chicken in a vaguely Thai coconut sauce - quite nice.

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Sunday 14th April, 2002

Drop Cap ell, it was a good thing I decided to walk to the glacier last evening, because it was the last chance. The weather cleared just as we were leaving so Lyn organised last minute scenic heli flights for those who wanted, so the rest of us just drove to Fox Glacier (the town) to pick them up, but did not see any of the glacier.

Knights Point photogaph

View from Knight's Point, NZ

Drop Cap till, we bought some souvenirs and travelled on, through eye-popping mountain scenery - rain forest, waterfalls, braided rivers. It was spectacular! We stopped for a "Kodak Moment" at a clifftop lookout called "Knight's Point", where there was a lovely view down to the sea and seals on the rocks.

Mac with cat photograph

Mac and Friend at Haast River Roadhouse

Drop Cap eading off again we followed the Haast River to some lovely sights. The blue green glacial river from the bridge was beautiful. We stopped for morning tea at a remote roadhouse/motel at Haast River where there was a bar where we had lovely fresh baked scones and muffins with coffee and Mac found a friendly tabby cat who curled up in his lap quite voluntarily and made Mac's day. As Keith, one of our fellow travellers said, "Mac is purring, is the cat?"

Haast River photograph

Gates of Haast, NZ

Drop Cap oving on we passed the Gates of Haast (nothing like the Gates of Hell) at the entry to Haast Pass and stopped for another photo op. It was quite spectacular. (Note: Haast was the name of the explorer who first came through here and registered his name on just about everything!)

Lake Hawea photograph

Lake Hawea, NZ

Drop Cap e crossed the pass, and entered Otago Province where the hills are steep and scattered with snow and the odd deer. We passed Lake Hawea and stopped in Wanaka for lunch. It is another pretty lakeside town.

Otago photograph

Lord of the Rings Country, nearing Queenstown NZ

Drop Cap e then continued over the highest section of road in New Zealand, Lord of the Rings Country, into Queenstown via the historic goldmining town of Arrowtown. It is very cute and all the modern houses are built in styles to blend in with the old ones.

Drop Cap ueenstown was bustling with young, athletic looking people. Our hotel is on a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu (from a considerable distance). It is really a glorified motel but I imagine it is perfectly adequate. We have booked the "gentle" Jet Boat ride tomorrow at 10 am followed by the TSS Earnslaw cruise across the lake and back. We were going to have dinner at the Skyline Restaurant, going up by gondola, but I chickened out after seeing it. I hate little gondole and this one does not stop, just runs continuously. Can't be doing with that, not with my knees at the moment. Hope it's a good day.

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Monday, 15th April, 2002

Drop Cap hat a great day! Today dawned a little cloudy but fine, with blue sky breaking through. So, after a leisurely breakfast we sallied forth intrepidly to the town, walking down the very steep path and making mental notes to get the bus back. We strolled the Mall, looking at the many jewellery shops and selecting some future purchases.

Jetboat preparations photograph

Joining the Jet Set

Drop Cap hen we went to the wharf where we paid for our jet boat ride and were fitted with the obligatory life jackets. We had our photos taken by the company and joined Penny and Clive from England, Robert from Nova Scotia and Bill from Queensland and a couple of strangers from USA (how dare they!)in the boat. Our driver was Matt, a very charming young guy who was only too happy to explain things. We had another photo taken of us in the boat and away we went!

Jetboat preparations photograph

Clive, Bill and Penny join the Jet Set

Drop Cap wish I could explain the exhilaration of jet boating! It was fantastic! We flew over the water, leaping and bounding, swerving and sliding perilously and screaming into 360 deg. turns! I loved it! An hour just flew by. If we had another day here I think I would have done the Shotover Jet into the narrow gorges.

Jet Boat Jetty photogaph

Jet Boat Jetty, Queenstown

Drop Cap he photos turned out well and were incorporated together into one large A4 and four postcard sized, complete with the address form on the back. So we bought the set for $20-00.

Jetboat group photograph

Matt, the driver and the Jet Set

Drop Cap hen we strolled through the town again and bought a tiny jade pot and a lovely box of wood with a jade insert in one shop and a paua shell pendant in another, after which we enjoyed an early lunch in a coffee shop. We strolled around, taking photos as the weather got better and better and tried to decide where to eat tonight. There are a lot of Japanese restaurants but most of the others describe themselves as "Café and Bar", which puts us off a bit. We will probably eat at the hotel.

Queenstown Jetty photograph

TSS Earnslaw and the Boat Jetty, Queenstown

Drop Cap t 13:45 we went to the jetty where the TSS Earnslaw puts in. This is a lovely vintage steam boat, built in 1912, which plies the lake. Lake Wakatipu is the third largest in New Zealand and the cruise across is about seven ks. We enjoyed it, sitting outside in the sun watching the beautiful scene slide gently by. The Remarkable Mountains were clear, dotted with the remains of last week's snow, and dropped down into the lake, simply lovely. We met several people we knew from the tour and we were all having a great day! It is nice to have two nights somewhere and not always be moving on next morning.

Lake Wakatipu photogaph

Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkable Range, Queenstown NZ

Drop Cap e decided, after all, that rather than worry about getting down and back we would book dinner, a la Carte for once, in the hotel, and stay in. All in all it has been a marvellous day.

Drop Cap inner tonight was somewhat hilarious, if a trifle disappointing The service left a lot to be desired, although could not be faulted for friendliness. It left Mac wondering what they could do to lemon meringue tarte. He found out when it shattered all over the floor. Altogether E for effort, 100% for entertainment.

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