Friday 15th February
Sitting in Maureen the Maui Mercedes Motorhome in a site at Queenstown, South Island, NZ.
On Wednesday evening we parked up in The Shining Star camp site, Hokitiki alongside State Highway 6 on the West Coast after several hours glorious driving through coastal mountains.
Nothing too exciting about the site other than a short walk across the highway was a small area next to a footpath surrounded by glow worms. Hundreds of little blue lights looking like Christmas lights. A most unusual sight and intriguing- apparently they do the glowing to attract their food into their lair...I collected a few to bring home for next Christmas (saves on electric)!
Talking of unusual creatures we were amazed on the way down to this site to see not one but two kiwis, scurrying across the road in broad daylight. Incredible when you think that people pay to see these little charmers, and they are on the endangered species list. Furthermore...they were the rarest model of brown kiwis...so lucky to see them (they probably were lucky too-wouldn’t have been good to have splattered such an endangered national icon!). Weird looking little things strutting along with their heads down. About the size of ... a large baby chick. Cute.
So...yesterday moved on to visit either Franz Josef Glacier or Fox Glacier (no...not the mint!). This was high on the list for both Trina and Michelle to see. Unfortunately this was the only time that rain stopped play during our 6 weeks so far. It rained most of the day and got real heavy.. surprised the Glacier didn’t get washed away.. But we had no chance of getting near it so we took the opportunity to make more miles towards Queenstown for our next stop. According to a travelling colleague the Franz Josef Glacier has reduced 50% in just 30 years....
We decided to stop short of the next mountain range as the weather was so forbidding..We found a camp right next to Lake Paringa where we backed up to the lake and hoped the heavy rain wouldn’t cause Maureen the Maui Mercedes Motorhome to float away in the night. Both Michelle and I had a dusk swim in this lake despite the damned sandflies chewing us to shreds.
Strangely I got told off twice yesterday whilst taking my turn to drive. I kinda double parked outside a bank whilst Michelle went to the ATM and a woman waltzed out of a nearby shop, told me to shift as I was causing an obstruction and that she was calling the police...! All in one breath, turning blue in the face, within about 20 seconds of me being there. Hardly an obstruction as the nearest moving vehicle was two blocks away.. misery. Then blow me I stopped outside a cafe we had just patronised (in order to ‘borrow’ their WiFi..!) when some bloke from a nearby business popped his head in my window, said I should move and threw a note at me...telling me I shouldn’t park facing the wrong way in the street and the old bill will fine me $40...! Turns out it’s true..I should have read the NZ Highway Code but what a misery..again. Mostly the kiwis are happy souls so perhaps it was the rain...
So today we were back to glorious 22 degrees after a cool start and even more spectacular, vistas.
Think Scottish Mountains..think bigger, longer, wider...think dazzling blue sky with occasional fluffy little clouds and think 22 degrees warm..... You nearly have the beauty of New Zealand South Island. Breathtaking time after time. And ever changing around each mountain range and lake.
We both took turns in driving. (Unfortunately Trina was not able to drive as she was not with us at the start so couldn’t get authorised.) The roads are often, very windy, but plenty wide enough for motorhomes. It is really slow going but you can still go dozens of miles without any cars behind. Mainly quiet, good quality roads, just fun bends, dips, switchbacks and cliff edges. Loved driving...loved being a passenger enjoying the view. Managed a quick swim in a lake just before Queenstown...bloomin’ cold but nice to not have the taste of salt whilst swimming.
We are now camped in the centre of Queenstown which is the ‘activity centre’ of the country. This is where us young uns (!) go to bungy jump, ride in rapids, fly over canyons, luge rides, hiking, mountain biking, para gliding and loads more.
Did you know...we are already six weeks into our two month tour. And in no rush to return. ...
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