Southward bound – yay!
It’s always a surreal feeling to be finally free of the day-to-day and have your holiday stretching out before you. The chore of packing isn’t such a chore, and 10 days away seems like a looong time. At the beginning at least.
Before it all becomes a distant memory I’ll recap the first couple of days of our trip down south, this post covering the journey down to Queenstown. This is almost a month ago now – I can’t believe how fast the year is going. Anyway…
A winter holiday generally requires more space to pack all the woolly layers, not to mention extra bags for snowboards and gear. It was a good call to drive down rather than fly and we filled every nook and cranny in Mike’s car. At a respectable hour on a Friday morning in August we set out for the Interislander ferry terminal.
Once on board we found the lounge bar and staked out our patch. The weather was a bit dubious but fears of a rough crossing were soon dispelled, and later when the announcement was made that pies were being served, yours truly cut a brisk path to the cafe. Mmmm pies.
We didn’t linger in Picton and pressed on to Kaikoura for a coffee stop. The stretch of coast on the way is home to a seal colony and we had to stop maybe three times to watch them for a while. Very cute.
We’ve done the ferry-and-drive-through-to-Queenstown-in-one-day thing before and as well as being a slog, much of the scenery is traversed in darkness which is a waste. So we broke the journey with an overnight stop in Methven, located near the Mt Hutt ski field. From our hotel we walked along to the Blue Pub for dinner (across the road from the Brown Pub).
Saturday morning began with a quick soak in the outdoor hot pools – a tad hot to linger for long, but a novel way to start the day. Yesterday’s cloud had cleared to blue skies and we were treated with our first views of the alps. A breakfast stop in Geraldine may have resulted in pie no.2 of the trip…
Along the way are a couple of stunning lake views. Tekapo is a near-compulsory stop for all travellers even if you’ve seen it all before. The glacier-fed Lake Pukaki creeps up quite suddenly and its gorgeousness is rather distracting. Luckily I wasn’t driving.
Tarras is a very small community made famous in recent years by Shrek the sheep. It is now a thriving wee hub offering a few shops (including beautiful merino garments) and a small Shrek museum. Not much further on is the Lindis Pass, the boundary between North and Central Otago. We remember it well as last time through there we pulled off to turn the car inside out looking for Mike’s wallet.
We made it to Queenstown mid-afternoon, hoards of people everywhere. TomTom guided us to the hotel and while checking in I made a shocking discovery.