K and A's road trip

Retired professionals wishing to see a little more of the world at home and abroad
Living in: South Wonston, United Kingdom
  • Day273

    Waiau

    February 21 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We left Blenheim after a morning walking in the Withers Hills Farm area. Everything was very very dry and the paths to the top of the hills were closed due to the fire risk.
    We then travelled to Waiau a little town in the hills which was accessed by a lovely road passing through beautiful countryside. The road was very steep and windy for most of the journey, which made for slow driving, at times a 15km speed limit.
    This is a rest stop on our way to the thermal Spa at Hanmer Springs.
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  • Day272

    Marlborough wine tasting territory.

    February 20 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    We drove the short journey from Smiths Farm Holiday Park to Blenheim, stopping twice en route. The first stop was at the Vines Craft village, where there was the most amazing quilting shop. Needless to say Karen spent ages in there, and came out having bought a kit to make a memories of NZ panel, featuring wildlife and scenery of the island. Another project to be added to the pile!!!!! Next stop a boutique chocolate factory, where we tasted and bought very expensive chocolate. Then onto our campsite for the night, the closest we could find to the winery we had booked into.
    We decided to take a taxi to Brancott Estate winery, as we were going to have a glass or two, it being Karen's 60th birthday celebration meal out. We were not disappointed!!!! Kim looked after us at the winery, spending 50 minutes talking about the vineyard, it's history and the variety of grapes growing there. In between we tasted 6 different wines, all very good. We had booked a meal there in the restaurant which overlooks the Marlborough valleys - absolutely stunning views. Our meal was excellent, all washed down with glasses of very good wine.
    A fabulous day out!!
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  • Day270

    Picton

    February 18 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    We travelled back to the north of the island, so we could spend some time walking around the Sounds and to have a look at Picton. It is a most beautiful busy little town nestled in at the end of Queen Charlotte Sound and is the gateway to the South Island, from Wellington on the North Island, by ferry. We saw several ferries about to leave for the north island loaded with camper vans mainly.
    We tried the award winning pie shop fare (hotly recommended in Lonely Planet guide), which was very good, and around the corner was a shop called Lattitude 41. There are many pie shops in NZ but this was the first we had tasted on our travels. really good!!
    We are staying at a farm called Smiths Farm Holiday Park, and the camping site is surrounded by sheep and cattle. Free home made muffins on arrival, which were delicious and a bag of feed for us to feed to the goats and pigs.
    The lady in charge here was very helpful and advised us of a short walk over their land and up through the woods to a waterfall. We fed the sheep, goats and pigs on the way which we did at nightfall as glow worms could be seen at night in the woods. The waterfall has been reduced to a small flow due to drought conditions over here. Whilst we waited for darkness a possum crept out in front of us and crept silently along the waterway. The glow worms on the return journey were quite spectacular, but as it was dark by this point the walk needed care and attention, as the ground was uneven to say the least.
    The next day we drove the short distance to Awakiwa, which is at the southern end of the Queen Charlotte Track. We walked for two hours through the forest to some spectacular view points overlooking the Fjord - a much softer landscape than in the south west.
    On the way back we stopped for a dip in the sea and a read of our books for an hour or so in the blazing sunshine.
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  • Day267

    Kaikoura

    February 15 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    We travelled south to meet Gina Paul and Ellie, who came north from Christchurch to meet us at this east coast town renowned for sea activities, whale watching etc..
    The sea-scape here was altered dramatically two years ago by a massive earthquake which lifted the sea floor by up to 5 metres. The town is a hot spot for tourists, and is full of hostels and hotels etc, although some are closed pending structural repairs or demolition.
    G and P brought their caravan which dwarfed our little camper van and we had adjacent pitches on a beach side campsite. The campsite we had booked was next to the sea and we had booked seaside view pitches, which was perfect. Gina thought she had spotted a whale out at sea, but as it didn't move for hours on end we decided it was a rock!!!! No sealife spotted other than dusky dolphins pointed out to us by fellow campers. They were far away and other than a slight movement in the sea not really discernible.
    Our journey down took us through a rich fruit growing area - apples, peaches, pears, apricots etc then into Marlborough - famous as NZ's premier wine growing area. At Blenheim we passed vineyards with names well known to us - Brancott, Wither Hills, Cloudy Bay etc. We then followed the coastal road down to Kaikoura . Tom Tom our trusty navigation guide informed us that we would encounter a Terrific Gym due to road works on this section, this is because major sections of the road are being reconstructed after the earthquake. Just north of Kaikuora we stopped to view the many mother and baby seals which were cavorting in the rock pools in the sea by the road way.
    Our weekend with Gina Paul and Ellie was great fun, and a celebratory weekend for Karen's birthday. The odd bottle of beer and wine was consumed along with great food cooked on the bbq.
    The weather on Saturday was a little cool and cloudy - we had a look around the town and took a walk along the esplanade.
    The sun was shining again on Sunday so after seeing P, G and E depart for home we did the peninsular walk - a 3 hour walk around the headland where we stopped at the renowned seafood bbq for a spot of lunch. The walk gave us fabulous views of the coast and we could get up close to some of the male seals which inhabit this part of the coastal area when we dropped to low level. A great weekend with old friends!
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  • Day267

    Kaikouri

    February 15 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    We travelled south to meet Gina Paul and Ellie who came north from Christchurch to meet us at this east coast town renowned for sea activities, whale watching etc..
    The sea scape here was altered dramatically two years ago by a massive earthquake which lifted the sea floor by up to 5 metres. The town is a ot spot for tourists and is full hosels and hotels etc although some are closed pending structural repairs.
    G and P brought their caravan which dwarfed our little camper van and we had adjacent pitches on a beach side campsite. ...... more to follow
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  • Day264

    Kaiteriteri

    February 12 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    After a short scenic drive from Murchison we arrived at Kaiteriteri, a most beautiful resort on the coast. We had decided to stay here for 3 nights, as we really want to explore the Abel Tasman National Parks, one of the many highlights of NZ South Island. The campsite we had booked into is directly next to the beach, and was very busy. Although most pitches were taken it does not appear too busy, and we were given a pitch with plenty of space. The facilities are good and plentiful, with a kitchen and BBQ area close to our van. We spent our first afternoon on the beach in front of the site - a beautiful golden beach with a turquoise crystal clear sea. Both of us were soon swimming and cooling off from the very hot sun. The next day we drove to nearby Marahau where the Abel Tasman track begins. We walked (or tramped as they say in NZ) the first part of the track until we reached Stilwell cove, where we bathed in the sun, read our books and swam repeatedly in the clear waters. As we walked we passed cove after cove, all stunning. The track was undulating and very dusty, and we passed many people walking in both directions. On our final day in this location we booked onto the water taxi service, which travels alongside the Abel Tasman track in both directions. The boat was full as we left Kaiteriteri, and our first port of call was to see the Split Apple Rock, a large rock out at sea that looks just like an apple split in half. Seals were spotted basking on rocks on Adele Island as we continued along the coast. The captain pointed out a large,rather grand vessel called The Spirit of NZ. On it were 35 disabled youngsters making a 5 day voyage- this trip takes place twice a year apparently. We left the boat at Medlands Beach, and were to be picked up later at a different location after our tramp along another part of the track. We walked for about 4 hours stopping for a picnic lunch on one of the many beautiful beaches. There are no roads at all in the national park, and the only way of travel is walking or kayaking. Every now and again we came across a campsite with toilets and running water. Again we met many people walking in both directions. We stopped at Cleopatras Pool, a crystal clear water pool set amongst rocks. The water was cold, but there were many people bathing there and sliding down the rocks into the water - mainly youngsters it has to be said!!!!! We ended up on another beach at Anchorage Bay, after walking about 15kms- ready for a flop in the sea before our boat picked us up to return to the campsite. So pleased we managed to walk such a chunk of this great tramping trail, as the scenery we saw was amazing. One of the highlights of our trip around NZ so far!!!Read more

  • Day263

    Murchison

    February 11 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    The gorge at Hokitika was reached after a short journey from our campsite inland toward the mountains. Unfortunately we could not see the main standing stones in the gorge as some of the track was shut off for maintenance. The water was however very turquoise and milky with the dust and minerals from the mountains. The water is predominantly melt water from the glacier and was very cold -two hardy chaps plunged in while we were there but they did not stay in long. Karen dipped her toe in which was enough.
    After that we travelled to Punakaiki along the scenic Greytown to Westport Road. The road hugs the shoreline for much of the way squeezed between the mountains on one side and the sea. The beaches did not look too inviting with grey shingle, they are more popular to surfers.
    The shoreline at Punakaiki is renowned for its particular rock formations - the Pancake Rocks. We took a short walk to see them which was worthwhile, and were entranced by a pod of about 30 dolphins who were feeding and playing in the sea immediately behind the formations and within the adjacent bay. We had not seen a dolphin surfing a wave until today - it appeared to be having great fun.
    We arrived late afternoon at Murchison, a farming community in the hills. The site we are at is next to the river, and after a bbq dinner in the camp kitchen we plunged into the river swim hole to cool off as the afternoon temperatures were very hot. The water was lovely - refreshing but not too cold, and so clear. What a fabulous spot for a campsite, and excellent facilities. The reviews on Tripadviser were spot on - a real gem of a site!!!
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  • Day262

    Hokitika

    February 10 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    We travelled to this town as we wanted to see the Gorge which we will do tomorrow on our way up north.
    The road from Fox Glacier to Hokitika is a great driving road through temperate rain forest the whole way.
    We visited the Fox Glacier prior to the start of our journey which comprised of a short walk and a 200 m climb to see the current end of the glacier. We could see the higher reaches of the glacier as we approached - which starts at the top of Mount Cook. The glacier has been receding for 250 years as we are still coming out of the last ice age and the planet has been getting warmer. It was awe inspiring to see the huge valley that the ice had created over the many years. We had expected the approach to the glacier to be chilly, and so were well prepared, wearing long trousers and carrying fleeces and waterproofs. We didn't need any of them, as we were bathed in sunshine the whole way up.
    We then walked around Lake Mathieson which offers great mirror views of Mount Cook, but not today as the water was agitated by a breeze. This did not spoil the walk as the views were lovely and the sun light playing through the trees and tree ferns produced great patterns on the track floor.
    We had been told about a campsite in Hokitika which we tried to get into but it was full. We got into one nearby which is at the top of a hill over looking the sea. Quite a set up, as the campsite is set in what was once a hospital. The camping pitches are set in the grounds of the hospital and all of the facilities within the very old building. We had use of various lounges, bathrooms and the kitchen, all set in an old rambling building. There were still hospital beds all made up but not being used. Never been to a campsite like it!!!! We had the most amazing view of the sun going down , the timing of which would roughly coincide with the sunrise in the UK. We met fellow campers from Denmark, Germany, America and China, but no other English.
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  • Day261

    Fox Glacier

    February 9 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    This was a travelling day - retracing a lot of steps to Wanaka then onward through the Haast pass to the west coast. The views along the way were as spectacular as the rest of what we have seen with blue lakes, turquoise rivers and massive mountain and rain forest scenery.
    The imperative was to get to Fox Glacier so we did not linger.Read more

  • Day260

    Queenstown

    February 8 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Queenstown was reached after a long drive back along the Milford- Te Anau highway. We took in breakfast on the shores of Lake Gunn, after a short excursion to see The Chasm, a thunderous waterfall not far from Milford Sound. A magnificent sight, with potholes formed by small rocks being whirled around at great force.
    We then retraced our steps back through the countryside to Frankton - then on to Queenstown which is a town on Lake Wakatupi, which is renowned as the birthplace of the bungy jump. We resisted the temptation to have a go - there is every activity available to hire here on water , mountain or in the air.
    The town is full of tourists, young and old signing up to extreme activities.
    The town was bathed in sunshine and was very busy.
    We noticed an advert for a Whitsunday Island trip that we had been discussing for our return to Australia and have booked up a visit for late March. A celebratory wine on the lake side seemed appropriate, then a short walk around the headland to make room for some green lipped mussels.
    Friday fizz too - perfect!!! There was obviously a lot more to see in Queenstown, but time was running out and we have a fairly long drive tomorrow heading for the glaciers on the west coast.
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