Woke up this morning pulled back the curtains and there was welcomed by a blue sky, bright sun and a snow capped Mt Cook. Its like living a dream down here on this amazing holiday. The plan was to hit the road early but Linda thought it would be a good idea to go back down to Lake Matheson for a better mirror reflection view, and boy was she right. The water was clearer which made the reflection sharper and i swear I could turn the photos upside down and you wouldn’t know which was the right way up. We grabbed a coffee in front of MT Cook and then got on our way with the plan to just stop whenever we saw a lookout point.
The NZ government do things really good down here with the sights. There philosophy is that they have a stunning country to be proud of so they are quite happy to give all its offerings for free and in return they just ask that you respect its beauty and don’t spoil things. So wherever there is a waterfall, valley view, raging river or crystal clear pool/lake, there will be a brown lookout sign on the road and they have created a short path for you to follow to reach each beauty spot. Most walks are around 10 to 15 min loops so are a welcome leg stretch when driving.
The first of todays stops hit us quite quickly with signs for Bruce’s Bay. Initially we didnt think it would be much but then as we drove around the bend a 1km stretch of beach opened up with huge waves crashing onto it for a mesmerising view. We just had to stop and get a coffee and sit and watch the waves. We noticed people had written on pebbles and small stones their names and date they were there so Linda joined in the tradition and left our very own there with the plan already in our minds to come back and check on it in 2 years time.
The next lookout was Knights Point which is a view of the beach from a very high vantage point. Linda could see seals on the rocks with her binoculars but unfortunately they were to far away for my camera to pick out. Onwards from here and we soon came across Thunder Creek. We weren’t going to stop here but there were loads of cars in the lay-by so thought it must be good. A short walk revealed a raging waterfall from a huge height and was well worth the stop. Next up was Blue Pools Lookout. Id read about this so was a bit excited to see it. A 10 minute walk along track and 2 swing bridges, yes im a dab hand at these now, and there they were. A river from the glaciers ran down through rocks and collected in a pool at the 2nd swing bridge so looking over the side from the middle showed a gorgeous turquoise blue pool that you could see down through for about 15ft. Truly stunning and definitely lived up to expectations. The only downside was that there were so many sandflies and we were getting bitten to death. They are very much like mosquitos in that they land on you and extract blood leaving small lumps that go red and very itchy. This whole west coast has been full of them and Lindas ankles are full of bites and ive got around 30 from the ankle up to my knees. A small price to pay to see all these marvellous sights.
We got some miles done after this with a short stop for lunch and then started the decent into Queenstown down some amazing twisty roads. Just before these roads there was a superb viewpoint of those roads leading down through a huge valley into Queenstown. A bit of a silly thing we have on this trip os to do start jumps at certain places. So far we have done them in the middle of wobbly swing bridges and near some pools so we decided to do one here with the huge valley behind. Its good to behave like a kid every now and then.
Off down the crazy road we went and at the bottom drove through Cardrona which as well as being a ski place is now famous for its bra fence. A farm owner’s wife died from breast cancer and as a tribute and to raise money for breast cancer care he started hanging bra’s on his farm fence with a donation box for anyone who wished to help. Slowly other women would turn up and stop to look, then take off their bra and hang that on the fence. This has now become an amazing sight of thousands of bra’s with names and dates written on them and has raised a huge amount of money for the cause. Next up was Arrowtown which is a small town famed for its Wild West looking main street called Buckingham St. Its a quirky place with all the buildings not just for show but they are used as every day shops and businesses. Also in the town is a short walk around the old chinese settlement area where the chinese came to live and work mining for gold.
Finally we made it to Queenstown and what a surprise to find out motel directly on the lake side with stunning views of the lake itself and the mountains beyond. We walked into town for a meal and a beer and then nosey round. This is definitely a young person town with thrill seeking youngsters fresh from paragliding, bungee jumping and white water rafting amongst many other things wandering around town getting slowly drunk. None of them were badly behaved however and the place was spotless with no litter anywhere, something we have found all through this great country. We left the party goer’s to it and got an early night as tomorrow we are up at 6am for a trip to Milford Sound.