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Back Home with Persephone

March 15, 2014

Following Fiordlands we drove to Queenstown which is billed as the adrenalin capital of the world. The streets were filled with young people from all over the world looking for the ultimate rush. The weather was cold and we awoke each morning to a fresh dusting of snow on the mountains. We spent two days dining and site seeing rather than bungee jumping and sky diving. Our rush came with the “must do” Shotover jet boat ride that is reported to be the most exhilarating jet boat experience in the world and they will get no argument from us. The boat shoots through a narrow canyon with sheer ragged rock walls at up to 80 kph while doing 360 degree spins, often missing the rocks by inches.

We left Queenstown and dove to the restored mining town of Arrowtown situated in a beautiful valley surrounded by snowcapped mountains. The weather was warming which was much appreciated. We continued north through Wanaka and eventually down the Haast River to the Tasman Sea where we had ocean on the left and the Southern Alps on the right.

We camped near the Fox Glacier so we could get an early start on a morning hike. We watched as the evening sun caught the higher peaks of the Alps while we sat in our camp chairs enjoying a beverage. We were now back into shorts and sandals which had been packed away for the last two weeks.

In the morning, not so early, we hiked to Fox glacier. Like everywhere in the world the glacier is rapidly receding but it still is an impressive sight. The next day was spent at the better known Franz Josef Glacier and a hike up the moraine past waterfalls.

We stopped for the night in Hokita and barely got a campsite due to the annual Wildfoods Festival where people vie for the most outlandish costumes while eating such exotic wild foods as bull sperm. The foods sounded a bit extreme so we continued north.

We took the scenic loop inland and discovered the remains of the historic Blackball coal mine that cuts underneath the Grey River. An explosion in 1896 killed all 65 miners that were below ground and the place had an eerie quite to it as we hiked across the ore car bridge and past the coke kilns.

Back along the coast we visited the Pancake Rocks that appear to be stacked slabs of even thickness rocks that the geologists can’t quite explain. And yes, there is a pancake restaurant at the trail head.

At Cape Foulwind we again headed inland toward Nelson and Brian enjoyed some fly fishing in the rivers. At one point we drove out on the river bank and became stuck in the soft sand. An hour later with some digging and flat river stones our micro-camper emerged from the sand and we were on our way. To make matters worse, Brian caught no fish!

We explored the north end of the island as far west as Collingwood and within sight of Farewell Spit. We drove past the Tasman National Park but decided against a day of hiking in favor of fishing the Motueka River, reportedly the best fly fishing river in the country. Brian finally got lucky landing a 4 pound brown trout on a dry fly.

By now we were getting antsy to head back home to Persephone. We moved up our ferry reservation and headed to Picton. We had time the next morning for a hike out to Bob’s Bay returning via the Harbor View route before catching our afternoon ferry to Wellington. There we celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary at the very nice “Shed 5” restaurant where we were served a special dessert to mark the special event.

By now it was clear that cyclone Lusi was headed for New Zealand and we decided to put the pedal to the metal and hurry back. We did stop at the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center to see the world’s only white kiwi and the Tongariro National Trout Center. It is incredible the effort, much of it volunteered, that New Zealander’s are putting into returning native birds and fish that have been driven nearly to extinction through the introduction of foreign species.

We arrived in Whangarei on Saturday in the middle of the cyclone with horizontal rain and wind gusts that nearly pushed our micro-camper off the road. Persephone was in good order and we enjoyed a quiet evening at home while the storm blew over us. It was a great road trip, but it feels great to be home.

Shotover jetboat ride; we're in the back row

Shotover jetboat ride; we’re in the back row

Shotover boat heads down through the gorge.

Shotover boat heads down through the gorge.

Arrowtown valley

Arrowtown valley

Sandie in the kitchen making lunch

Sandie in the kitchen making lunch

Mt. Cook from the backside

Mt. Cook from the backside

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

View of the Alps from our campsite

View of the Alps from our campsite

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Hike up to Franz Josef Glacier

Hike up to Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier

Tasman Sea and beautiful weather

Tasman Sea and beautiful weather

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

We passed on the Wildfoods!

We passed on the Wildfoods!

Nice day for fishing

Nice day for fishing

Stuck on the riverbank when fishing

Stuck on the riverbank when fishing

Coke kilns at former Blackball coal mine

Coke kilns at former Blackball coal mine

Blackball coal mine with ore car bridge in the background

Blackball coal mine with ore car bridge in the background

Tree carving in Coolingwood

Tree carving in Coolingwood

Beach at Marahau

Beach at Marahau

Launching ramp

Launching ramp

Selfie taken in the middle of the river.

Selfie taken in the middle of the river.

Scenic drive to Picton

Scenic drive to Picton

Picton ferry terminal

Picton ferry terminal

Hike to Bob's Bay in Picton.

Hike to Bob’s Bay in Picton.

Arriving in Wellington on the ferry.

Arriving in Wellington on the ferry.

43rd wedding dinner with special dessert.

43rd wedding dinner with special dessert.

Takahe was feeding next to our van when we woke up.

Takahe was feeding next to our van when we woke up.

From → Travel

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