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On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

Colorado
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On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

Greetings from wet and wild New Zealand! We arrived on the South Island early Sunday morning after a hastily booked trip...our Australian visas were just renewed last Tuesday and prior to that we couldn't make any firm plans. As a result, this three week trip was sussed out and booked in only four days, so hopefully it goes well.

I'd hoped to post my trip report as we go, but limited and sketchy internet service may prevent that, so I'll probably post a few tidbits here and there.

The highlight of the first day was a lovely late lunch at Mud House Winery in Waipara and the discovery of a fabulous Waipara Pinot Noir - Equinox.

Yesterday's highlight was the discovery of close to 100 seal pups frolicking in the pool beneath Ohau Falls along the Kaikoura coast - incredible. This, my friends, is one of the many perks to traveling in the off season - the gathering of the seal pups is a winter occurrence.

Today's highlight was walking the Elvy Waterfalls Track in Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve. There was a bit of rain involved (okay, more than a bit), but it didn't hamper our enjoyment of this lovely track. We also walked the Totara Walk, the Circle Walk and the Tawa Walk, which while enjoyable, were entirely too close to SH 6 for our tastes. By the way, Lord of the Rings fans might be interested to know that filming of The Hobbit just wrapped up at the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve about four months ago. According to our accommodation host, they were rained out, as the valley flooded, wreaking all sorts of havoc.

We're now hunkered down in our accommodation in the Rai Valley warm and dry, while sporadic torrential rain splashes against our windows.

Stay tuned...

Dunedin, New Zealand
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11. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

Sounds like you narrowly missed taking a side turn into the cult capital of Glorivale. (Cooperites) (One of the back roads near Lake Brunner.) Must be almost time for their once-every-two year concert and lunch. That is about the only time outsiders are allowed to visit their isolated township.

Near the Lake Brunner turnoff, there is a house with an interesting gate. Either side of the dirveway, it has a full car body planted upright, bonnet first into the ground. (two black Chevies ?) Quite unusual. I can't remember which side of the Lake Brunner turnoff it is so you may have missed it.

Glad to see you are keeping your spirits up despite the wet weather. Each type of weather brings something unique out of the landscape. So you still get something worthwhile out of the journey. Thanks for reporting back in to our little community here. Interesting reading.

Colorado
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12. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

I missed a cult capital? Bummer.

Colorado
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13. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

As expected, I’ve fallen way behind. We’ve not had Internet access for a few days, so I’ll try catch up in one go.

I think we left off after a nice dinner at Café de Paris in Hokitika…

The following day we drove from Hoki to Cromwell, which I absolutely do not recommend. I’d estimated the drive at 6.5 hours, so we knew it was going to be a long day, but what we didn’t count on was sunshine on the West Coast, which encouraged us to stop more than we’d planned. I was so excited by the glorious clear sunny day in Franz Josef that we drove out to the glacier and walked to the viewpoint. We were tempted to walk to the terminal face, but we’ve done it many times before and sanity prevailed, so we moved on to Fox Glacier where we stopped for lunch at The Saddle, knowing there weren’t many food options further on. In between there were many stops for photos which didn’t help our progress much.

We also stopped to walk the beach at Bruce Bay, which we don’t recall ever seeing in the sunshine before…resistance was futile. Same for Knight’s Point.

I’d hoped to walk a new track at Haast, but there was just no way…it was getting late and we wanted to get over Haast Pass before dark. I’m not sure why, the pass really is no big deal, although the road was in pretty rough shape this time last year with some scary eroded areas and drop offs. It was fine this time around. Of course there was no time for the Blue Pools either, but it didn’t really matter as we’ve visited many times before, and the sun was gone, so my hopes of nice photos were dashed anyway.

Our next detour was to Wanaka, by design, as we thought a nice Indian dinner would taste pretty good and we knew dinner dining options are limited in Cromwell . The food hit the spot, but delayed our arrival to Cromwell even more…we arrived in Cromwell at 7:30 pm in the pitch black, with no idea of how to find our accommodation, get this, 10.5 hours after we left Hoki. I repeat, I do not recommend this, even for seasoned SI visitors like ourselves (even less so in winter when the days are so short).

We spent two nights in Cromwell, in a lovely vineyard cottage, which gave us one full day to visit the area wineries, have a nice winery lunch and just relax.

Then it was on to the North Catlins via Clyde, Alexandra and Roxborough, and a side road I’d learned about here, but sorry, forgot who told me. Of course this made for another slow drive day. We stopped to look for penguins (saw one), nearly getting swept away in some ferociously cold gale force wind and rain near Nugget Point. It was seriously nasty.

We spent three nights in the North Catlins. We were fairly lucky with the weather (well, it’s all about perspective, isn’t it?). We had a snippet of sunshine here and there on the Catlin coast and plenty of rain, but we managed to get in some good walks and it didn't slow us down much.

Te Anau up next...stay tuned...

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14. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

I'll be there in August...so i am guessing i should buy thermals for my trip to new zealand? hehe xxx

cheers!

New Zealand
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15. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

Good to hear you made it safely Mel, 10.5 hours on winter roads is no picnic.

Was the side road Beaumont to Clydevale to Balclutha? It's actually a shorter and faster road than the route via Lawrence and Milton.

Hope the clouds lift in Te Anau for you :)

Dunedin, New Zealand
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16. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

I was wondering how you were getting on, Mel. Great to read your updates. Safe travels.

Adelgirl70, you can easily buy thermals here if needs be. We produce some wonderful superfine merino thermals which we reckon are much more comfortable than polypropylene. If you buy from the factory outlets in Christchurch, you can get them for a very affordable price. They last ages too.

Mel, Milton has a nice knitwear factory a few blocks off the main road. They do some fashionable wear which might be worth checking out on your way past.

Edited: 17 June 2012, 12:51
Colorado
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17. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

adelgirl70 -

I've been living in my silk thermals and rain pants and the fleece hat and mittens are getting plenty of use too.

WanakaLakes - the roads were fine, it was just a longer drive than we'd have liked. Yes, it was the road to Clydevale.

Pouring rain today, so no Doubtful Sound for us. Next time maybe.

Colorado
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18. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

And freeze it did…we woke to the kind of NZ winter day that really makes me happy…clear skies, low cloud clinging to the hills, and the promise of a pretty day ahead. A layer of ice on the steps nearly sent Bill flying as he loaded the suitcase into the car. There was even a layer of frost on the backs of some cows we passed as we left our accommodation - It was definitely frosty.

Back on the Southern Scenic Route we headed to the South Catlins, stopping for coffee at the Niagara Falls Café, which was so cozy and welcoming that we regretted not being hungry. We detoured to Slope Point and made the 20 minute walk to the southernmost point on the South Island.

There was no wind, blue skies overhead, what more could a person want?

After more poking around, we finally arrived in Te Anau to gloom. Figures.

On our first full day in Te Anau, we made the early morning trek to Manapouri to look into taking a Doubtful Sound cruise…the weather wasn’t promising, but is it ever? Unfortunately, the cruise had been cancelled that day as only three people had signed up, so we left and worked our way along the Milford Road to seek out some walks.

We hadn’t planned on driving to Milford, but it turned out to be such a pretty day (yes!) that that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t take a cruise (done that many times), but managed to keep ourselves busy for many hours, returning to hours, returning to Te Anau in time for a showing of Ata Whenua, drinks and dinner.

The following day, we made the trek back to Manapouri, in even worse conditions. We decided at the last minute to take the Doubltful Sound cruise, which turned out to be a very good option. The weather wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t raining!

From Te Anau we drove to Glenorchy , which is where we are at the moment, winding up our three night stay. Yesterday was all winter gloom, but we still managed to walk several miles on the Caples Track. We popped into Kinloch Lodge, which was open for casual meals and drinks on a drop in basis – nice spot to rest the old legs.

Today was absolutely glorious – sunshine, snow-capped mountains, Glenorchy at its absolute finest. A perfect day. I’ve just now watched the sunset, leaving a gorgeous orange-pink cast over the snow covered mountains – incredible. We managed to fit in three hikes and hopefully I got some really good photos which I’ll share in the longer trip report. Whether or not we can move tomorrow is another issue altogether!

Tomorrow we’re off to Geraldine for a night, then it’s up to Christchurch for our final night before our early morning departure on Sunday morning. How fast the time goes…

New Zealand
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19. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

Great to hear it isn't all gloom, and yes, Glenorchy with snow and sunshine is magical.

Take a stroll out on a clear night in Glenorchy or Kinloch to see the star filled sky - just amazing :)

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20. Re: On the ground in wet and wild New Zealand - June 2012

Melnq8 could you tell us about the vineyard cottage you stayed in in Cromwell?

I am really enjoying your adventures. We will be making our first trip down under next year and I am busy reading and planning.