A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand South Island

Route: Te Anau; Milford Sound; Te Anau; Invercargill; Dunedin; Twizel; Akaroa (Banks Peninsula); Bealey Spur (Arthur Pass); Motueka; Picton.

22 °C

MARCH 2016

We were now in the heart of Fiordland and in the small town of Te Anau. The Fiordland has a reputation for receiving a lot of rain, so for our first full day there we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted with a clear blue sky and sunshine. This was good, as we had planned to walk the famous Kepler Track that day. I say walk the Kepler Track, we were only doing a 4-hour section, the full thing takes several days to complete. Even so, our half-day was really enjoyable with beautiful scenery as usual.

Te Anau Keplar Track

Te Anau Keplar Track

Keplar Track

Keplar Track

Keplar Track

Keplar Track

Te Anau Lake

Te Anau Lake

Te Anau Town Statue

Te Anau Town Statue

Next it was Milford Sound, one of the most famous destinations on the South Island. The drive from Te Anau was spectacular, gradually climbing into the mountains before plummeting down to the small inlet village of Milford Sound. En route we explored, small lakes, gushing waterfalls, rivers, forests and a very basic road tunnel that looked like it had been hacked out by a pick axe and not properly finished. By the time we arrived in Milford Sound, it was tipping down, we shouldn’t have been surprised as this is the wettest part of New Zealand and it rains most days. However, our spirits weren’t dampened, as we were here to embark on an overnight cruise around the inlet. The cruise got underway in the pouring rain but this didn’t stop us putting on our wet gear and going out on deck to admire the scenery. One advantage of the rain was the resultant waterfalls. By morning the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to break through and we had a totally different environment, so we got the best of both worlds. We docked back at Milford Sound by mid morning and drove back to Te Anau the same day.

On the road to Milford Sound

On the road to Milford Sound

On our way to Milford Sound from Te Anau

On our way to Milford Sound from Te Anau

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound after the rain

Milford Sound after the rain

Milford Sound and no rain at last!

Milford Sound and no rain at last!

On our way back from Milford Sound to Te Anau

On our way back from Milford Sound to Te Anau

Tunnel on our way Milford Sound

Tunnel on our way Milford Sound

Ferns, one of many types

Ferns, one of many types

More fern

More fern

After the rain

After the rain

Te Anau was the end of Fiordland and the West Coast for us, as we headed southeast to Invercargill. Invercargill was to be our base to explore the Catlin Coast and visit Stewart Island (accessed by ferry from Invercargill). However, our first day’s activities we compromised by a storm that brought 140kph winds and heavy rain, so Stewart Island was cancelled. Blown away from the coastal activities we headed into the rainforest for a walk. Beautiful as it was, we were soon in dense forest, ankle deep in mud and making slow progress. This was the kind of walk where you ask yourself, “Why I am doing this, am I enjoying it, etc.?”. But 3 hours later we had completed the circular walk and proud of our achievement, even if we were so muddy that we had to remove most of our outer cloths before getting into the car. The next challenge then loomed, the drive back to Invercargill. The wind had strengthened and the drive back was not easy, passing the wreckage of at least one vehicle (a campervan) that had been blown of the road. The following day the wind had dropped and we were able to enjoy the Catlin Coast more fully on the way to Dunedin.

Catlin Coast

Catlin Coast

Light House on Catlin Coast

Light House on Catlin Coast

Petrified Wood on Catlin Beach

Petrified Wood on Catlin Beach

Catlin Coast

Catlin Coast

Muddy walk (the nice part and only for a very short time)

Muddy walk (the nice part and only for a very short time)

The weather for our Dunedin stay was beautiful and we took full advantage to explore the Itago Peninsula (including a sighting of a Royal Albatross). Dunedin also gave us the opportunity to take in a Super Rugby match. Saturday night we went to the Forseth Bay Stadium to watch the Highlanders take on the Lions (South African side). The Highlanders (Super Rugby current champions) beat the Lions so the locals were happy. We managed to get great seats, just above pitch level and around half way for a very reasonable price, but the cost of beer and food made Twickenham look cheap. It was a great night, and a lasting memory.

Itago Peninsula

Itago Peninsula

Itago Point

Itago Point

Blue Penguins

Blue Penguins

Fur Seal

Fur Seal

Albatros

Albatros

Rugby game in Dunedin

Rugby game in Dunedin

From Dunedin we headed back inland to the small town of Twizel. The reason for the visit was to see Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Upon arrival, our host suggested we visit Mt Cook that day, as the following day’s weather looked iffy. We took her advice and had a great afternoon and early evening in the mountain range. We then spent the next day in our bungalow out of the constant deluge that persisted all day. However, in this instance, being confined by rain was not a problem. Our bungalow had everything we wanted, it was like a small house, we had plenty of provisions so spent the day listening to music and generally relaxing.

Lake before Mt Cook

Lake before Mt Cook

Alpine Lupin

Alpine Lupin

Mt Cook NP

Mt Cook NP

Mt Cook, highest summit in NZ

Mt Cook, highest summit in NZ

Next stop was back on the east coast, this time just south of Christchurch, on the Banks Peninsula in the town of Akaroa. Akaroa is a small coastal town with a French feel to it, set in a small inlet and surrounded by rolling hills. As you can imagine, here was a challenge, we had to climb to the top of the highest hill. This could be accessed from our motel, so the following day we did just that – summit and back in around 4 hours plus two aching bodies.

We hadn’t finished with the mountains just yet though, and headed back into the interior to Bealey Spur, just outside of Arthur Pass for our final adventure in the Southern Alps. Unsurprisingly we were met with intermittent rain, but this didn’t stop us exploring the mountain trails around us. More of a nuisance were the Sand flies which seemed to present everywhere, even up here in mountains.

Castle Hill near Arthur Pass

Castle Hill near Arthur Pass

Castle Hill near Arthur Pass

Castle Hill near Arthur Pass

Bealy Spur walk

Bealy Spur walk

Toadstool

Toadstool

Bealy Spur

Bealy Spur

From here it was a complete change of scenery as we travelled up to the north coast and a lovely town of Motueka in Golden Bay. Here we spent three very enjoyable nights, manly thanks to the accommodation and our host. The best way to describe our accommodation would be to say “dream of you ultimate self catering accommodation, and then find that your dream had come true”. But it wasn’t just our accommodation; we also had an amazing visit to the Abel Tasman National Park. The park is only accessible by boat, and we picked ours up in a near-by village and were dropped off in Bark Bay. We then had a 4 hours walk ahead of us, and if completed on time, we would be picked up at Anchorage Bay and returned to civilisation. As you have probably gathered we were there on time and made it safely back after a hard but very enjoyable walk.

Abel Tasman NP

Abel Tasman NP

Abel Tasman NP

Abel Tasman NP

Two nights in the pleasant town of Picton then followed, before catching the ferry back to the North Island, and a completely new adventure.

Picton

Picton

Picton timber

Picton timber

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

Sheep v Cows v People:
Some say that there are more sheep than people living in New Zealand. Its true, as there are 40 millions sheep to 4.5 millions people. However, we have seen a lot more cows than sheep, I wonder how many cows there are in New Zealand.

Transport:
There seems to be two types of transport for tourist; either you have a camper van (never seen so many camper vans on the road before, they are everywhere) or you have a Toyota Corolla, generally grey in colour. We have hired a grey Toyota Corolla and Malc seems to take great pleasure in parking it by a similar one, then watching me try and get into the wrong car. By the way, we are very happy with out Toyota Corolla it suits us perfectly.

Shower or bath:
New Zealand people prefer to shower then bath. How can I say that you ask? Well everywhere we have been, be it private accommodation or motel/hotel, there never seems to be a bathtub, only shower. I conclude after 6 weeks traveling, that they don’t like baths and prefer to shower.

Posted by MAd4travel 01:52 Archived in New Zealand

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