Wednesday, April 19, 2023

New Zealand - South Island


The trip to New Zealand went 

pretty well but we were delayed quite 

a bit on the last leg from Auckland 

to Queenstown. As we arrived 

late all we did in the 

afternoon was shop for 

groceries and a cooler.

In the evening we walked down 

to the center of town which 

was quite delightful. We 

shared a draft cider before 

eating at an Indian

 restaurant. We walked back 

through the Gardens.

Next morning we made the scenic drive 

to Glenarchy. On the way we made a 

side trip to Moke Lake and after we 

made it to Glenarchy we drove to 


We drove back to Queenstown and stopped at
Fergburgers as the line there the night before had been 2 blocks long.  

We then went to Shotover where we went in a Jet 

Boat through a narrow river with rock formations on each 

side - thrilling. 

Back to the room where we ate leftovers from the 

night before and then a walk into town to get ice 

cream cones from Patagonia. The town was not as 

lively as the night before.

The next morning we headed to the gondola lift that 

took us part way up Ben Lohman Mountain. From 

there we climbed another 2.5 miles to the saddle. We 

waited a while there for the sky to clear both above 

us and below us. We ate our picnic lunch, and on the 

advice of a girl coming down, we climbed further up 

the spine to get the good views. The summit was still 

shrouded so we did not climb up further.

The walk down was easier for me, harder for Teresa.

Back at the upper gondola station they had very good 

luge tracks. We each went three times. After that we 

went back to our room.

For dinner we ate Chinese at The Mandarin- good 

food, good views.

In the morning we headed to Te Anau. As expected 

there was nice scenery on the way.

When we arrived we went to a bird sanctuary where we ate our picnic lunch. (disappointing)

Next to the glow worm excursion. We took a boat to 

the glow worm cave which was interesting No photos 

allowed however.

We then checked in at the Village Inn in Te Anau.

In the morning we went to Milford Sound which is 

actually a glacial fjord. We took a boat ride from the 

end out to the sea. It was raining which meant the 

waterfalls were turned on.

We stopped at a few points of interest on the way 
back to Te Anau.

In the morning we drove 2 hours to Invercargill for 

our flight to Stewart Island. We were checked into 

our room by 10:45. We walked around the small town 

until our bus tour of part of the island that gave us the lay of the land.

That night we had a boat tour that took us to see 

albatrosses, fur seals (and a shark chasing a fur seal) 

and a penguin. We then arrived on an island to seek

the elusive kiwi. After 2 hours we finally found one. 

Shortly thereafter we returned back to the boat and 

were back at the dock at midnight.


In the morning we hiked four tracks, mostly through forest. In the afternoon we had a boat ride to Ulva Island, a predator free reserve, where we learned about the history of the place as well as all about the flora and fauna while spotting a few creatures (all avian).

The next morning we caught our flight back to South 

Island and drove up the Southern Scenic Highway to 

Dunedin. On the way there we hiked to Waipohatu 

Waterfalls, next to Curio Bay to see the petrified 

forest. Next were the Koropuhi Falls and McLean 

Falls. On to Matai Falls, Horseshoe Falls and 

Hunaleyte Purakaui Falls. Our last stop was the 

Nugget Point Lighthouse.

We were somewhat late getting in to Dunedin but we 

were able to grab a nice meal at the Rope and Twine 


The next morning we headed to Mount Cook but 

made stops at Moreaki for the boulders and also to 

Elephant Rocks. Actually, the entire trip was very 


We arrived at The Hermitage early enough to eat at 

6:00 p.m. to give us time to catch up. Nice view from 

the Hermitage Restaurant.

In the morning we headed to the Air Drome to take a 

flight to the Tasman Glacier. Unfortunately it was 

cloudy on the mountains so our trip was delayed. We 

rescheduled to 3:30 p.m. and then went to the 

trailhead for the Hooker Valley Track.

The hike took us one hour and 20 minutes to reach 

the destination which was Hooker Lake, a remnant of 

Hooker Glacier, which was a bit further away, all at 

the foot of Mount Cook. The sky cleared so we had 

good views of the mountain. We ate our picnic lunch 

there before heading back. As we were getting set to 

leave we ran into Vivian and Wing, a couple we met 

and spent time with on the glowworm excursion.

The hike back took longer as there were more photo 

opportunities due to improved visibility. We heard, 

then saw a small avalanche.

We went to our room briefly before heading back to 

the Air Drome for our flight.

The weather could not have been better. Five 

passengers in our helicopter that landed on the 

glacier. The skiplane landed soon after with its five 

passengers. We greatly enjoyed being there, taking it 

all in. We had a snowball fight, and due to my less 

than full recovery from shoulder surgery, Teresa held 

her own.

We went back via the skiplane. The takeoff was 

interesting, it wasn’t us rising, it was the glacier 

falling away.

Back to the room. We ate at the Old Mountaineers 

Cafe, Bar and Restaurant from which we could see 

more of Mount Cook.

The next morning we went first to Blue Lakes and 

Tasman Glacier View. This was a view from the 

ground of much of what we had seen from the air the 

day before.

Our next hikes were nearby; the Tasman Glacier, Terminal Lake and Tasman River Trails.

That got us to lunch so we stopped at our room to eat 

before heading to the trailhead for the Kea Point 

Track. The end of this got us up close to Mount 

Shelton and gave us a different angle of Mount Cook.

The next day was travel day to Wanaka. On the way 

we took a detour to the Clay Cliffs. We encountered 

traffic jam along the way.

We then proceeded through Lindis Pass to Wanaka, 

small town hard against Lake Wanaka. It is trying 

to rival Queenstown as a tourist destination. We 

stayed at West Meadows Motel , about 1km from 

town but an easy drive.

We hiked along the lake for a while then scouted out 

the town. We saw a kebab stand as well as a gelato 


We came back that night but the kebab stand was out 

of lamb so we ate at a nice restaurant. Teresa had the 

best Thai beef salad I have ever tried. My meatlovers 

pizza was also good, just too big. I ate half to save 

room for gelato. The chocolate was very good.

The next morning the weather was iffy so we went to 

Puzzling World which inside was mostly interesting 

optical illusion exhibits and outside a challenging 


After lunch we rented e-bikes and rode for about 2 ½ 

hours around the large peninsula. After that we spent

1 ½ hours climbing up and down Mount Iron.

Our gelato was chocolate, double chocolate brownie 

and M&M- all good.

The next day was another travel day to Franz 


The trip was punctuated with various stops for 

overlooking waterfalls and pools, most of which 

involved hikes. These included Lake Wanaka 

Lookout, Roaring Billy Falls and Knight’s Point 


We had dinner at the Alice May Restaurant. I had braised lamb shank (with red onion, pale ale and raisins) with mashed pumpkin potato and vegetables, Teresa had a feta chicken salad- another very good meal.     


In the morning we went first to Franz Joseph Glacier 

Walk which was a little disappointing as due to the 

end of the trail being washed out we could only 

tramp to the point where the glacier reached in 1908. 

We took some offshoot walks from the main trail.


Next we drove to Fox, first dropping off our 

hitchhiker at her helicopter tour destination, and 

then to hike the trail of the Fox Glacier. Again, a nice 


We then drove to Lake Matheson where we first ate 

our picnic lunch, then took the rather lengthy but 

easy walk in a circuit around the lake. 


the mountains in the distance were shrouded over so 

we could not get the iconic reflection of Mount Cook 

in the water.

We did see some blue fungi.

The next day was travel day to Arthur’s Pass Village, only a couple of stops on the way.

First was Hokitika Gorge and the turquoise waters 

from crushed minerals mixing with glacial melt. It 

was a pleasant walk.

The weather became rainy so we had a quick stop at 

Itaro Viaduct Lookout.

In the morning, in less than ideal weather, we first 

climbed up to Devil’s Punchbowl for a good waterfall 

view- not a long hike but rather steep.

Next was Arthur’s Pass Walkway Trail, which was very long with ascents and descents. We only walked far enough to be able to turn around and be back by 1:30.

Back to our room for lunch. Our place had a 

communal kitchen and dining area which was well-

equipped and allowed us to meet other travelers.

The weather got very good about 3:00 so we went out

to first walk to The Chasm and then pick up a 

portion of Arthur’s Pass Walkway Trail we had not done. 

Dinner was at the Beasley Hotel. Teresa had the loin 

of lamb, I had the chicken schnitzel. We shared an 

oreo sundae for dessert.

In the morning we headed first to the 

Point  Elizabeth Walkway which was a dud.

Next to Motukiekiu Beach with its geologic 


The Porari River Trail was a pleasant walk but no 


Pancake Rocks was interesting and the Truman Walk 

was worthwhile.

We went next to Nelson Lakes and stayed at the Alpine 
Lodge. We had a great meal that night at its restaurant. I 
had grilled snapper and Teresa had vegetarian bowl.
In the morning we went to Lake Rototiti and did some hikes along the shore and through the forest.

We drove to Motueka. We had kebabs then checked in to our motel. We then went to the sacred waters of the Resurgence. Nice dinner at the Sprig and Fern.

In the morning we drove to the entrance of Abel 

Tasman National Park. From there we went on a 

forced march of 12.8 kms. It went along the seacoast 

and into the forest. We started at Marahau and 

finished at Anchorage where we ate our picnic lunch 

and caught a water taxi back.

We then drove to Kaiteriteri and from there to Little 

Kaiteriteri which may have been larger, with a nice 

beach and chock full of opulent homes.

In the morning we ventured north and stopped first at Hawk’s Lookout. Next was another sacred spring, this one the second clearest in the world. Then to Labyrinth Rocks, and after that, The Grove. We also drove to get a look at Golden Bay.

March 18 was a glorious day. We took another eco-

boat tour. It started at 8:45 and we were back at 


Beside the boat ride and discussions of the ecosystem 

we had two beach stops; one for a hobbit’s second 

breakfast and the second for lunch. Both beaches 

were gorgeous and secluded; the weather was 

perfect: sunny with a cool breeze.

In the morning we went to the farmer’s market and made some purchases. I got my sugar cinnamon snickers donut from The Smoking Barrel after.

We drove down to Kaikura stopping to see a coal 

driven train and eating meat pies for lunch.

Next we stopped at a place to see seal pups and their moms cavorting among rocks and pools.

In Kaikura we checked out the beach before walking 

through downtown. For dinner we had very good fish 

and chips.

First thing very early next morning was our whale 

watching trip. Sperm whales are common in the area 

and that is what we got. They dive very deep for 

about 45 minutes to hunt but then surface for 5-10 

minutes to do everything else including breathing. I 

was first to spot the first one. After he dove we found 

a large pod of dusky dolphins which were quite fast. 

We then went back and found the same sperm whale 

after he had resurfaced.

In the afternoon we did the Kaikura Peninsula Walk 

though we did not keep to the right trail. A three 

hour walk turned int a four hour adventure as we 

took the idea of hiking around the edge of the 

peninsula too literally. The path we blazed on the 

rocks was blocked several times by huge seals, adding 

some excitement to our trip. We had to make a steep 

20 meter climb to get back to the trail after our one 

hour detour.

We ate dinner late and it was dark and clear when we 

returned to our room. We could plainly see The 

Southern Cross, The Pointers and the Milky Way.

We headed to Picton in the morning on the Queen 

Victoria Scenic Drive with stops at Cullen Point and 

an hour or so loop walk.

We stopped at Momorangi Bay to eat our picnic lunch.

We also stopped at Ngatuka Bay and Governor’s Bay 

and a few more lookouts before arriving in Picton, 

which is quite a seaport.

That night we ate a a kebab stand as the preferred reataurants were full and it was raining.

 Our last full day on the South Island stared wth a 3 

½ hour boat cruise. We met a girl from Hamburg 

who was and avid surfer/hiker. We made a few stops, 

the most significant being Ship Cove where captain 

Cook made five landfalls to obtain water from the 

creek, gather some food and even do extensive 

repairs on his ships.

Next we went to a maritime museum focusing on the Edwin Fox, the remains of which sit outside.

Lastly, we did a hike on the Snout Trail to Queen 

Charlotte’s Point.

That night we prepared for the next day's ferry to 
Wellington to begin the North Island part of the trip. 

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