The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

Rosemary Monk continues the story of her recent holiday in New Zealand and Australia.

From Christchurch we headed inland for a night by Lake Tekapo (a favourite place) and a visit to the Church of the Good Shepherd with its beautiful view across the lake to the mountains. You can no longer take pictures from inside the church so it is possible to sit quietly and appreciate the peace and tranquillity without the constant clicking of cameras. The “tourists” are all outside with their selfi-sticks, taking snaps of themselves and anything that moves! The next day we headed across to Lake Pukaki and up towards Mount Cook. On our previous visit the weather was grey and drizzly and we got no further than Peter’s Lookout (with no view) so it was wonderful to see the lake in all its blue/green glory. As we drove north up the valley the clouds lifted and we got a wonderful view of the mountain top – a rare treat.  We booked into the camp site and bit the bullet, booked a helicopter flight and crossed our fingers.

Festival 2015

Kiwi Travels - onwards and downwards

A couple of hours later we were airborne and heading up towards the Tasman Glacier. We didn’t get to see Mt. Cook as the cloud started to come down again but we flew over the glacier and lake, spotting icebergs, landed in snow on a mountain side and enjoyed the rest of the views.

We came back to earth and drove up to the Hermitage – a whole village, complete with school, entirely dedicated to the tourist and climbing industry. Sir Edmund Hilary had trained for Everest here. The Information centre has a room dedicated to all those who have lost their lives on the mountains, either in climbing accidents or on rescue missions.

Later in the afternoon we walked up to the glacier lake and were entertained by a group of noisy Keas. These are rather naughty, parrot like birds notorious for stealing bits off cars and picnics. The following morning we left the cloud up the valley and headed down Lake Pukaki and had our breakfast at Peter's Lookout, overlooking the lake bathed in sunshine.
Next stop was Oamaru and an evening trip to the Blue Penguin colony to see the penguins come home for the night to their specially built shelters - and they come across the access road, the esplanade and across the camp site, where they roost under the verandah! Camp site instructions include a request that you check under your vehicle before moving in case you have a visiting penguin. From there we drove south, seal spotting on the way, and then turned west through the Otago gold mining area. The old railway built to service the mines during the gold rush is now a very popular cycle trail (The Central Otago Rail Trail) with several lovely old towns, reminiscent of the towns in Wild West films. It was incredibly dry and the sheep must have been struggling to find enough to eat. We saw many more sheep during this trip and we suspect that they have been brought down to the valleys where there is the chance of irrigation to maintain the pastures. It is also Middle Earth if you know the Lord of the Rings films. CGI transformed the area into battlefields swarming with huge armies of dwarves and trolls etc. We stayed in Gore (which is apparently the home of trout fishing and country music) before heading to TeAnau. We like the lakeside town and the camp site is within easy walking distance of a range of eateries. We had a date with a trip to Doubtful Sound so were picked up by coach, taken to Manapouri for a boat across the lake and another coach through Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound. It is very remote and the only reason that there is a road is the power station built into the mountain. Sadly the weather was very wet but the tour guide said that was good as the waterfalls were at their best. We sailed through the fabulous fjord out to the Tasman Sea, and even though we couldn't always see the mountain tops, the scenery was stunning and the waterfalls many and spectacular. Unfortunately the trip into the mountain to see the power station was not available as it was closed for annual maintenance during February.

It was very cold that night as a blast of Antarctic air swept across South Island and we weren’t looking forward to the journey to Queenstown - until we realised that there had been snow on the mountains so the scenery was wonderful in the sunshine. Queenstown isn't really our cup of tea - too many young people lining up to throw themselves off bridges, out of planes or up rivers in jet boats! We were only staying there so that we could drop by the Britz depot to have a couple of niggles with the camper van sorted the next day. The camp site in town has good facilities but is like a glorified car park so we drove up the lake to Glenorchy and enjoyed the peace and quiet, wonderful mountain scenery and watched the vintage paddle steamer, TSS Earnslaw, chug along the lake.  We had a nice meal on the waterfront that evening but could see the town was gearing up for party time with people lining up for discos, clubs and some place famed for the biggest burgers on South Island (or even the world!). We retired to our van and our books.