Our quick blog on cycling the Great Taste Trail in NZ is in another post; this post picks up our two week adventure once we finished that cycle trip.
After we handed back our bike, we boarded the Wilson’s Abel Tasman ferry to be transported up to Totaranui for a 2 hour hike to Awaroa Inlet. This perspective of the famous Abel Tasman National Park is a beautiful one not to be missed. The next 2 days were filled with hiking and kayaking our way back down to Kaiteriteri hiking through the National Park or along the beach and finishing each night in very comfortable 4 star lodges which in their humble beginnings were a family home and holiday house. One memorable activity we did with our kayak’s was called kayak sailing. Our guide had a canvas sail which required our kayaks to be rafted together and then the sail hoisted firmly held by 4 anchor people and let the wind take us ‘sailing’, it was exhilarating. We were lucky enough to see a fur seal pop up in front of us dining on an octopus, for a moment I forgot about my aching fingers holding the kayaks together. Our 2.5 day trip finished back at Kaiteriteri where we were transported back to our accommodation in Nelson.
The following morning we picked up our hire car and began our journey to Franz Josef Glacier. Spectacular scenery where ever you look and is well worth the drive. We took the coastal road to go look at Pancake Rocks & Blowholes and were well rewarded with some amazing geological formations.
Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier townships are small and are more about the two glaciers than destinations in and of themselves. We took the Franz Josef Glacier Valley Guided tour and this was worth the money as our guide not only gave us great information about a myriad of topics: geology, glaciology, botany, history and culture; but, also took us on rainforest trails that only guided tours can access and our valley walk culminated on a rocky hill with great views of the glacier. Whereas, the free public pathway, apparently ends in a ditch with views of the glacier that are less than spectacular. The thermal baths were included in the cost of our tickets and with 3 to choose from being 36, 38 & 40 degree’s each. Towels and robes can be hired if you don’t want to take your own. Lockers can be hired that are inside the change rooms; otherwise, there are free cubby holes located around the three pools. These are located under seating and don’t protect your gear from getting wet if it rains; so make sure you use the ones that are located under the plastic shade cover just next to the bathrooms. Unfortunately, the weather was miserable for our Fox Glacier Heli Hike and had to be cancelled. They made this decision 10 minutes before our tour was planned to start & will not do it any earlier. A vital point to remember when booking your accommodation.
Our next destination was Queenstown and the descent into that region is just purely picturesque. Queenstown is a city that hugs Frankton Arm and opens out onto Lake Wakatipu and city park is a lovely walk to get away from the bustle of the esplanade. It is the perfect location for winter skiing and does get rather busy during the season. There are many activities to do and makes Queenstown the perfect all year place to visit. Wine tasting is easy to do with many vineyards being within easy reach of Queenstown. Arrowtown has to be the cutest town in New Zealand and was our favourite place to visit for sustenance such as: The Blue Door Bar, Bendix Stables, The Fork & Tap, AB Bakery, Terra Mia, Kinross, Gibbston Valley and Cardrona Hotel all very fine establishments. The Dorothy Browns Arrowtown cinema is the smallest cinema I’ve ever visited and is worthwhile going to see a movie just to experience the ‘comfy’ seating arrangement in The Den.
Whether it’s the North or South Island, you can’t go wrong with New Zealand. Just Go!