A Travellerspoint blog

Queenstown

Wednesday

sunny 21 °C
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Wow what a day! Again we are blessed with fantastic sunny weather as we drove the short distance from Queenstown to Skippers Canyon. At the beginning of the gold rush here no track or road was present in Skippers Canyon. Tracks were formed by the miners through the Canyon. Today Skippers Canyon road is very narrow and scary but has amazing scenery despite the narrow gravel road. Not even wide enough to pass another car so great care is required. Our driver assured us he had never lost anyone over the edge of the sheer drops of several hundred metres! There are sweeping views along the gorge and of the Shotover river below as the road twists and turns for about 16.5 miles. One of the most famous places on the road is Skippers Bridge which is 96 metres long and 90 metres high and was used for Bungy Jumping but I passed on that one!!! We stopped at the restored brick built school and home stead renovated in 1993-95

However on our returned I did stop for a ride on 'The worlds most exciting Jet Boat Ride at Shotover Jet. Let's just say it did not disappoint If you would like to see the photos and video of me getting soaked please go to www.shotoverjet.com. Click on 'find your photos and enter the photo code SHJT569TG4SC

The finale for today was an evening Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak at the other end of Lake Wakatipo from Queenstown The TSS Earnslaw was one of a number of vessels providing access to isolated sheep farms around the lake in the 1800s. We enjoyed a fabulous BBQ Meal at Walter Peak and a sheep dog and sheep shearing demonstration with a Sing song on the return journey

Posted by Keithviner 02:31 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Fox Glacier to Queenstown

Tuesday

sunny 22 °C
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Another day blessed with fantastic sunny weather. We left Fox Glacier and saw the snow capped peaks of the Southern Alps as we travelled south along the west coast stopping at Knight's point and then passing Mount Brewster and the Haast Pass to an exciting Jetboat trip along the Hasst River for an hour seeing the magnificent scenery and waterfalls, even some cows from the river. These boats can travel fast and we did some great manoeuvres in the shallow crystal clear waters which are great for trout fishing. We returned to the coach stopping off at Thunder Creek Falls on our way to Lake Wanaka after lunch passing over the 45th Parallel and Lake Dunstan.

We arrived at Arrowtown and visited the Lake District Museum which presents an authentic picture of early Maori, European settlement and the exciting gold rush era of the 1860's. There are many historic buildings and a string of charming miners cottages.mm A separate Chinese settlement exists as most 19th century Chinese miners were poorly welcomed expats hoping to return home with fortunes. They built their separate settlement by the river including their own stores.

On to picturesque Queenstown a year round resort situated on the shores of magical Lake Wakatipu We will be exploring the surrounding area tomorrow.

Posted by Keithviner 00:31 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Christchurch to Arthur's Pass and Fox Glazier

Monday

sunny 21 °C
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Because of the fires around Christchurch several viaducts have been badly damaged by fire so The Tranzalpine train journey is unable to run at the moment which is disappointing for many people. However we have had such a lovely sunny day today after a lousy wet summer here that we have enjoyed an amazing journey by coach instead. We drove through Harper Pass and Arthur's Pass seeing where much of Lord of the Rings was shot We stoped at the Arthur's Pass store for coffee and spied the very clever Kia Parrot before arriving at Hokitika for lunch which is famous for its Greenstone

But the highlight of the day and indeed the holiday so far has been an incredible Helicopter flight from FRANZ Joseph past the rugged face of the Tasmin Glacier and the spectacular Hochstetter Icefall. Then taking in views of the eastern face of Mount Cook and the upper Tasmin Glacier, New Zealand's longest glacie. Then landing on an open area of the glacier to make snowballs and enjoy being in the snow on the top of the mountain before flying back to Fox Glacier for our one night stay! I hope you enjoy the fantastic scenery as much as George (the bear from the Christchurch Hotel) and I have?!

Before supper Chris our driver took us to the foot hills of Fox Glacier to enjoy a walk and see the Glacier from the bottom of the mountain. All in all an amazing day in the Western Mountains of the South Island and experiencing God's incredible creation.

Posted by Keithviner 02:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Christchurch

Sunday

rain 16 °C
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This morning we visited the Internstional Antarctic Centre starting with a bone shaking trip around a course in a Hagglunds vehicle used in the Antarctic. For all its weight it is very nimble and versatile being able to drive up and down very steep slopes and at very steep angles. Traverse gaps in the ice and it can even float on water! We did not try this though! We experienced an Antarctic storm with winds of 50mph and temperatures of minus 8 degrees and learned about life in modern day Antarctica and Scott Base and hung out with Little Blue Penguins and experienced a 4D Cruise feeling the wind and rain and seagull poo!!! Don't ask!!?

A Christchurch city tour followed where we could see the aftermath of the devastation from the earthquake that hit Christchurch on 22nd February 2011 at 11.51am We saw the derelict, iconic Christchurch Cathedral where there is still argument about whether it should be demolished or rebuilt 6 years on. A temporary Cardboard Cathedral has been built by prize winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban which will last up to 50 years until a more permanent Cathedral is constructed.

We saw various Sculptures around the city on buildings and in the centre. On the famous tram that travels around the city the driver gives an excellent commentary as we rode around crossing the river Avon, the Botanical Gardens, ReStart Mall, The Gothic Style Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum and New Regent Street to name a few.. As the weather has been wet today I decided to visit the Quake City at the Canterbury Museum. It was both informative and moving as it helps you understand the science behind the earth quakes of 2010 and 2011 and watch the emotion of people describing their experiences on the day of 22nd February 2011. You see items like the spire cross of ChristChurch Cathedral which has not been seen close up for decades. Finally we learnt about the progress with the ciity's anchor recovery projects and transitional projects taking place in Christchurch. We forget that before any rebuilding could even begin a huge amount of repair was needed underground to the city's water, sewerage electricity and gas network There were over 3,600 aftershocks too! So the rebuilding is taking time but will be one of the newest and exciting cities in the world.

Posted by Keithviner 21:44 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wellington to Christchurch

Saturday

sunny 22 °C
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This morning we boarded the interislander Ferry to cross the Cook Strait and travel through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton, a three and a quarter hour ferry crossing with lovely weather and slight sea conditions. Boarding our coach again at Picton we had a long journey brilliantly driven by our coach driver Chris to Christchurch, almost seven and a half hours away, but through the most amazing spectacular scenery which I hope you will enjoy depicted in the photos. We travelled through the alpine village of Arnaud, the enchanting beech Marula forest and the Lewis Pass before reaching the garden city of Christchurch to our hotel The George where a lovely supper was awaiting us.

Posted by Keithviner 02:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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