Touring New Zealand

Beer of the moment : Steinlager ($20ish for 15) Speights Gold Medal Ale

Tuesday 1st - Monday 7th February

We spent most of this week continuing to search for a cheap car. Most days were spent at the car auctions - there are at least a couple every day followed by a tour round the second hand garages, of which there are a lot in Auckland. Allan was in his element whilst Bev's patience got severely tested !! We had our hearts set on a Toyota RAV4, a cross between a 4 wheel drive and a car, but everywhere we looked they were pretty expensive - they seem to hold their value well over here. We spotted a nice looking one at a car auction but it needed a bit of work  and sold for too high a price to make it worthwhile. 

So having exhausted most of our options we decided to give the Ellerslie Car Fair a try at Auckland Racecourse. This is held every Sunday and basically anyone who wants to sell their car turns up and pays $25 NZ. Its free to look. There must have been at least 400 cars there and it was nice to meet the owners rather than a car salesperson. In the 4 wheel drive section most of the cars were large but we spotted a Mitsubishi Pajero that took our fancy. It was in great condition for an 11 year old vehicle and had 120,000 km on the clock. The price was reasonable as well - $7,500 NZ about £3,000. The owner was a young school teacher who was going to Japan to work for a couple of years. After a quick test drive and a bit of negotiation we decided to go for it. It was completely different to the RAV but we loved the fact that it was so solid and knew we would have lots of fun in her. It was a real 4 wheel drive complete with lots of gadgets like an inclinometer,

Having found her we wondered why we had been so attracted to the RAV in the first place. Luckily Ellerslie has a booth where you can pay $25 and find out the history of the car. We discovered that the owner still had an outstanding loan on her and were advised to pay the loan off as part of our transaction because if she didn't pay it, we would be liable. So we arranged to meet at the loan company early the following week and completed the transaction. 

We were now the proud owners of a Paj and it felt amazing to be able to get around easily after not having a car for 18 months.

Pajero

Having sorted the car, cleaned and provisioned the boat we were now ready for Bev's parents to arrive. They were arriving on 8th Feb from a stop over in Sydney and would be staying for just under 4 weeks.  

Tuesday 8th February 

Bev's Mum and Dad were due to arrive at Auckland airport at 9.15 pm so we set off in plenty of time to collect them - it's about an hour and fifteen minutes journey from Gulf Harbour Marina. As we drove through central Auckland we saw a sign for the Airport so headed that way. We had been to the airport once before by taxi and our instincts told us we weren't going in the right direction but when you have a sign telling you to go a certain way and you don't know the area that well you follow it. Follow it we did for some time until the signs disappeared and we became totally lost in the midst of urban scrawl. Auckland is the second largest city based on area in the world, Los Angeles being the biggest. We stopped the car and retrieved the map from the boot to discover that Auckland has tons of regional airports and that we were now miles away from where we needed to be - nightmare :(. After some careful navigation to get us back on track and a few more errors we were heading in the right direction, but by then hopelessly late. Interestingly we saw several more signposts for airports en route but ignored them all.  When we were a couple of miles away we got a call from Bev's parents - a local had lent them their mobile phone. It was great to hear from them. We felt awful as they had travelled so far to see us and we had been so looking forward to welcoming them through the gate when they arrived. Best laid plans and all that. At least they had got an immediate taste of Kiwi helpfulness.

Unfortunately it was dark as we drove them back to the Marina and they were unable to see New Zealand's beautiful scenery but it was great to see them and to hear about their wonderful trip to Sydney. 

Wednesday 9th February

We thought that we would have a relaxing first day so took them to see Devonport, a small town on the tip of Auckland's North Shore peninsula. Its a quaint place with some well preserved Victorian and Edwardian building's, lots of small shops, some classy art and craft galleries and cafe's. It also has amazing views of the Auckland skyline and harbour. 

After a nice stroll and a fantastic ice-cream served in a freshly made cone, we took a drive along the coast and just around the corner came across the amazing Cheltenham Beach. Its an idyllic spot with some gorgeous historic and to die for properties, all made from traditional hardwood with fantastic views of the beach and volcanic Rangitoto island a couple of miles away.  Bev and her Dad took a paddle to test the water temperature and were amazed to find that it was just like a bath. We vowed to come back with our swimming gear. The beach was pretty deserved but there were a few locals taking a stroll and a swim with their families. What a life and an amazing place to live ! 

Our next stop was Orewa, the largest town on the Hibiscus coast. It has a great stretch of beach used by Kite surfers and whilst not a tourist spot is a good place to get a taste of typical NZ life. The views along the coast are spectacular.

That evening Bev cooked dinner on board and we toasted Bev's parents arrival and our planned trip with a bottle of NZ's Lindauer bubby. Fantastic value for just £4 a bottle and as good as any £20/25 bottle we had had in the UK.

Thursday 10th February

Bev's parents were keen to set off on our tour of NZ asap so they headed into Auckland for the day to see the sights whilst we got packed, sorted out the boat etc...

The route

The prospective route

They took the bus in and we collected them from the ferry that runs from Auckland to the Marina. That evening Bev cooked a curry and we sat outside admiring the fantastic view and planning our journey.  The Marina is in a fantastic location and we never tired of the amazing views. 

The weather had been glorious since we had arrived back from the UK - in the late 20's every day with clear blue skies. It was lovely to be able to sit outside and eat on a warm summer evening.

Friday 11th February

By 10.30 am the car was packed to capacity and we were on our way. Our first destination was Rotorua, in the middle of the North Island. We hadn't been further South than Auckland so it was very exciting to be seeing the rest of the country at last.

En route we stopped for a picnic at a service station as we had loads of food that needing eating up. The great thing about New Zealand is that they provide fantastic picnic facilities everywhere and whilst they have all the modern facilities, there's hardly anyone about. It makes for such a calm and peaceful way of life. 

Unfortunately as we got back into the car we noticed tons of water on the left hand side carpets. We hoped that this wasn't the start of things to come. We suspected it could be a problem with the air-conditioning so off it went and we had to content ourselves with open windows to keep us cool.

Rotorua is the most popular tourist attraction on the North Island as it has the most energetic thermal activity with bubbling mud pools, gurgling hot springs, gushing geysers and evil smells ! It also has a large Maori population which enables you to get a taste of their cultural heritage.

We'd randomly booked ourselves into Ann's Volcanic Rotorua Motel for the first evening and were very relieved to find ourselves in a great apartment for just $150 NZ (approx £60) for 4 people. It came complete with kitchen, lounge, bathroom and its own outside hot tub. 

We all felt pretty hot and sticky after the journey so it was straight into the hot tub for a cool down............. Fantastic.

That evening we took a look around the town. Its a pretty place on the shores of Lake Rotorua with lots of shops, restaurants and bars. We settled on a Thai Restaurant and had one of the best meals of our trip - it was absolutely fantastic. The food was amazing and the service and ambience could not be faulted. With starters, main meals, two deserts and a bottle of wine the bill came to approx £60 - good value.

We loved Rotorua so much that we decided to stay another night so that we could see all the sights. Unfortunately we couldn't stay at our motel as it was fully booked for the weekend so had to move. The second place was very cheap - the cheapest place we actually stayed at - only $100 NZ, clean but a bit old fashioned for my Mum. 

Our first stop was to visit the Te Whakarewarewa thermal village. Its Rotorua's best known and largest thermal reserve. You get a guided tour around the key sights and are then left free to explore on your own. We were amazed by the smell of sulphur and the scale of the thermal activity. There are bubbling mud pools and steaming sulphur pools everywhere. It was simply awesome.

The thermal village is home to a full functioning Maori community who put on a twice daily show for tourists. We weren't sure what to expect but were very pleasantly surprised by their amazing dancing and singing. Its a little bit like Polynesian dancing with a local twist and was great to see their culture come alive..

Next it was on too see Pohutu, the largest active geyser erupt. Its a natural phenomenon so its a case of waiting and hoping too see it. We must have waited for over an hour and were giving up hope when the smaller Prince of Wales Geyser started to erupt which is always a good sign. Still we waited and waited, camera's poised. Just as we were ready to go she started, spurting hot water some 20-30 meters into the air - awesome.

There are several large sulphur lakes to look around so we set off to explore them. As we stopped for lunch Mum looked at the bottom of her shoe's and saw that the heat from the ground had melted most of the sole. They were an old but much loved pair of sandals but the sole had literally crumbled and melted away !  

On our way out we stopped by a large hot pool which the Maori's use for cooking their vegetables. It literally takes a few minutes in the amazing blue boiling water. The pool is incredibly deep, so deep in fact that they have never been able to measure its true depth due to the heat.  One of the Maori's showed us how they harness the natural steam vents to cook their food. Basically they fit a wooden box over a steam vent and then place a metal dish with meat, vegetables, stock etc.. underneath it. The steam slow cooks their food like a slow cooker. He showed us inside and the food looked and smelt fantastic.

Next stop was the Rotorua chairlift to get a great view of Rotorua and the lake. Although the view was fantastic the real reason for going to the top was to try out the luge track. Basically its like sledging but on a twisty concrete track. Dad and Allan hurtled down at full speed, Bev was a bit more conservative in her approach but needs full marks for being persuaded to try out the advanced track as well ! What a great sport - it could become addictive.

There's lots to do at the top including target shooting which Allan and Dad had a go at but we didn't fancy the reverse bungy!

Next it was back in to town for a wander and to visit some of the historic old building.

Whilst we were tempted to go back to the Thai restaurant, we decided to have a change and go for a curry. It was recommended as the best restaurant in Rotorua. We had the set meal which was absolutely enormous and felt so full afterwards we could hardly walk. It was great but didn't match the Thai.

Saturday 12th February

We could have stayed longer but had a lot too see so set off that morning for Taupo. We decided to treat ourselves to breakfast on the way and stopped off at a fantastic cafe that served up enormous freshly cooked breakfasts. It was built in a converted wooden church and had lots of old world appeal. Allan went for the works and even he couldn't eat it all !!

En route we stopped off for a cool down at Butcher's pool, near the village of Reporoa. Its one of the few free thermal pools left and was donated to the community by a local landowner. It's in the middle of a farmers paddock only a few kilometres off the main road. Our first glimpse of it was disappointing. Although its surrounded by nice wooden decks it looked a bit murky. 

However on closer inspection you could see that the base of the pool is just made up of small stones and the water was actually pretty clean. There was no-one else there so we decided with some trepidation to give it a go, and we were so glad that we did. Boy was it hot and as you stepped on the bottom small heat bubbles were released. The pool was incredibly relaxing and you could really feel the minerals doing your skin some good. 

Its a fantastic place to stop, made even better by the fact that its not teaming with people. 

Further up the road we took another de-tour to visit Orakei Korako or the "hidden valley" which is midway between Rotorua and Taupo. It receives far fewer visitors than other thermal areas due to its remote location but is probably the best thermal area in New Zealand and one of the finest in the world. 

Three quarters of it actually lie beneath the dam waters of Lake Ohakuri but the part that remains is the best part and is simply enormous. 

The journey there takes you through some beautiful countryside. When we got there we were amazed to see a classic car rally from the UK made up of approx a dozen Frazer Nash cars. They were beautiful and had been lovingly restored. The owners were travelling from Auckland to the bottom of the South island. 

After a really great sandwich at the local cafe we took the short boat ride across the lake to visit the reserve. The large colourful silica terraces are simply awesome and there's lots of small geysers and hot pools to see plus Ruatapu - a magnificent natural cave. It takes about 1.5-2 hours to see it all and the walking track takes you right over the top of the terraces to see them at first hand. 

Its an amazing place made even better because its set in an incredibly beautiful valley and there are very few other tourists there.

Just before we reached Taupo we made our final tourist stop of the day at Huka Falls - meaning 'Great Body of Spray'. A footbridge crosses the Waikato River just above the falls and you can see the huge torrent of turquoise water, more like a giant rapid plunging through a narrow cleft in the rock. Although the weather had been dry for a long time the amount of water and its force was amazing. An incredible sight.

As soon as we reached Taupo we checked into our accommodation, Great Lake Motel on the lake front which was great (complete with indoor spa bath) and took a stroll along the lake and through the town. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand, some 600 sq km. Fishing is one of its main attractions. We stopped for a fantastic ice-cream in town. Mum had a boysenberry ice-cream (a local delicacy). She absolutely loved it and no other ice-cream on the rest of the trip matched this one. 

The great thing about Motor Lodges is that they all have fridges so after you have finished the sight seeing you can relax with a chilled beer or glass of wine. Unfortunately when Bev opened the fridge door a bottle of beer fell out and shattered into tiny pieces on the tiled surface. Glass went everywhere and it took us about an hour to clean it all up :(

Very near to our apartment was a Pizza Hut so we decided to have a more economical night and try their special deal. Two large pizza's, 4 pieces of garlic bread and 4 unlimited deserts for just $35 NZ. We opted for the thin and crispy base and boy was it thin - more like a cracker. The topping was also pretty sparse to say the least. We decided that this was our first and last visit to Pizza Hut for the rest of our holiday. It was cheap but..... !

Despite the meal it had been a fantastic day packed with some amazing sights.

Sunday 13th February

Next morning we set off for Napier. Napier lies on the coast in the Hawkes Bay area which is famous for its wine. It was amazing to see the neat rows of vines as we drove through the region and we recognised one of two of the wineries. We noticed that they always seemed to plant a rose at the end of each row and we have recently found out why. It's because rose's are very susceptible to pests and give advance notice if there is likely to be any damage to the vines - very smart and ecologically friendly.

Napier sits on flat land and it felt very odd having been used to driving through hills. It enjoys year round sunshine but its biggest draw is its Art Deco Architecture. Having been to Miami it would certainly put up a fair challenge to be the Art Deco Capital of the World. Much of the downtown is blessed with Art Deco design giving the town a really funky and ornate feel. We loved it.

The Art Deco originates from 1931 when an earthquake and fire destroyed most of Napier's old brick buildings. The result is a town that's planned really well and is all in a cohesive style. 

We wandered the pretty streets and stopped at a great cafe for lunch. Boy do they do great sandwiches, cakes and latte's in New Zealand. Dad developed a penchant for the fantastic hot chocolates they do as well - always served with a few marshmallows on the side :)

Although the beach is made from pebbles its very attractive and long. Marine Parade is lined with Norfolk Pines and has parks, sunken gardens, swimming pools, an aquarium and a marine park. People here certainly have a great standard of living. The town has a lovely relaxed pace and feels very much like an upmarket sea-side resort.

That evening we stayed at the Deco City Motor Lodge. It had two large bedrooms and a really comfortable lounge, plus the necessary hot tub. As the Motel was a short drive from the centre of town we decided to eat in for a change so Bev and Dad rustled up some Ham and Mushroom Carbonara served with some delicious crusty bread, accompanied by a chilled bottle of wine and a few beers. Fantastic. 

That evening there was a Wedding at the Motel. We expected a late night as the kids started to run excitedly around but the couple in question turned out to be elderly so the partying was all over by 10. It was nice to watch and be part of their special day from afar. 

Monday 14th February

Next day we set off for Wellington, the Capital of New Zealand. Wellington is located in a picturesque harbour at the Southern tip of the North Island and many of its wooden Victorian Buildings are crammed onto the steep hills behind. It prides itself as a centre for culture and the arts and has some great shops and restaurants as well as being home to the countries Parliament and national treasures. 

Until now we had had the most glorious weather you could wish for. Hot sunny days, bright blue skies with temperatures in the late 20's and warm summer evenings. We were a bit concerned to see the sky turn cloudy and a few rain showers. Whilst it certainly made the driving more pleasant as we had no air-conditioning we had got used to our predictable weather. We had planned to stop at a Bird Sanctuary en route to see the Kiwi - New Zealand's famous flightless and nocturnal bird but it was too wet unfortunately.

The journey to Wellington was not what we had expected. The approach along State Highway 2 is through the Hut Valley which is incredibly beautiful but the road is very steep and windy. It's amazing to think that all the traffic has to go along this road to the Capital. 

We stayed at the Johnsonville Motor Lodge in Johnsonville. At first we were a bit disappointed that we were so far out of the centre but that soon disappeared when we saw how fantastic the motel was and heard that you could get a little train from nearby straight into the centre. This was one of our favourite motels as it was so new and tastefully furnished. The owner was also fantastically friendly and offered us loads of helpful advice about things to see and do. 

Johnsonville itself is a nice suburb so we changed and took a look around for somewhere to eat. We ate at a great steak house and as it was Valentine's Day Bev and her Mum got a complimentary glass of bubbly. We ordered one side order of bread whilst we were waiting and were amazed to see 4 very large bread rolls turn up. They were delicious and we were glad that we hadn't ordered 4 portions ! We also had some fantastic spring rolls and wantons with dipping sauces to keep us going. Despite this we all managed to polish off our great steaks and freshly cooked fries :)

Tuesday 15th February

Next morning Bev's parents were off into Wellington early - we were a bit lazier and were an hour or so behind. The train takes about half an hour and takes you through some pretty local towns en route. Its a pretty steep decent into Wellington. The central train station is beautiful inside and incredibly well kept - a great welcome to the city.

Our first stop was a walk along the pretty harbour to the Te Papa Museum. Before heading in we stopped at the Malthouse a shrine for people who love naturally brewed beer with over 30 varieties on tap. Its just outside on the harbour front and is a great place for a bite to eat, a great pint and to people watch.  

Te Papa is New Zealand's national museum and houses some great treasures as well as giving visitors a flavour of New Zealand history. We particularly loved the sections on volcanoes and maori history. Its a really well designed museum with lots of interactive displays which make it a pleasure not a chore to look around. Its also free as well.

We could have spent all day in the Museum but after a couple of hours decided to take a look around the town and head up to the Botanical Gardens. The centre of the city is pretty compact and has some nice buildings in it. We thought it had a much nicer and classier feel than Auckland and was a lovely place to stroll. We caught the Cable car up to the top of the hill overlooking the city - its a pretty steep ride. The cable car is a Wellington icon and dates back to 1902. At the top there's a small free museum with all its history. You get some amazing views of Wellington from the top, but the best part is that you can walk right back into the City through the Botanical Gardens. They were very pretty but we were glad to be walking downhill rather than up as some of the paths are pretty steep.

At the bottom we wandered through some beautiful residential area's filled with New Zealand's traditional Victorian wooden buildings and passed some pretty cafe's and restaurants. Before we knew it we were at the Bee-hive and Parliamentary Buildings. Unlike the UK you can get really close. Joyce and Bill were even invited in for a tour round but unfortunately didn't have the time.

Our final stop was the Maritime Museum which was just about too close but at least we got a quick glimpse inside. By this time the bars on the waterfront were starting to fill up and commuters were on their way home. Being rush hour it was busy but it was still all very calm and relaxed versus UK standards.

We knew that we would have had a tiring day so had decided to relax in the Motel that evening. So on the way back we stopped at a local supermarket and grabbed a few things for dinner. 

Bev rustled up a salad, coleslaw, jacket potatoes, quiche and fresh bread. With a nice bottle of cold NZ wine and a few beers it was just the ticket. It was great to put 4 pairs of exhausted feet up !

Wednesday 16th February

We had booked a slot for ourselves on the 2.30  Lynx cat. There are 2 cats that make the crossing to the South Island and as one was out of action places were pretty tight and we were unable to get on the morning crossing. We had a couple of hours to spare and so decided to take a drive around the bay and visit Eastbourne a small town about 8km's away. 

It was a pleasant drive and what a fantastic spot. It was amazing to think we were so near to the Capital as the place was so quiet and peaceful. Just before the main town we stopped for a stroll along the waterfront and a bite to eat at one of the small cafe's. We sat outside on the terrace and had the best cheese scones ever all washed down with 4 magnificent latté's. The cafe was fantastic and was understandably packed. A real find.

We then followed the road round into Eastbourne itself. What a beautiful place to live. The houses were absolutely magnificent - all with amazing views and the small town centre had some amazing small shops and restaurants. The great thing about New Zealand is the facilities it provides for locals and children. This was a small place but still it had its own open air swimming pool on the beach. Eastbourne must be a fantastic place to live. Mind you its supposed to get pretty windy in Wellington. They don't call it the Windy City for nothing. 

It was nice too experience somewhere so nice off the typical tourist track but time was pressing so it was back into the centre to catch the ferry.

The Cooks Straight is notorious for bad weather and we were a bit concerned that we would be in for a rough crossing as we had 25-30 knot winds. Allan had to back the Pajero into a tight space at the back of the cat with just a few centimetres head room to spare, all rather stressful. The cat was very modern inside and we had great window seats. We left on time and were soon heading out through the bay. Its amazing how large the bay is and how far you have to travel before you meet the open sea. The journey across the gap between the two islands only takes 45 minutes or so and luckily it was pretty calm. Most of the time is spent navigating the Marlborough Sounds which are truly beautiful. The cat has to go slow so as not to damage the delicate environment. The waterways, bays, coves and islands of the sounds are amazingly. They were formed by the sea flooding its deep valley after the ice ages. At times you forget you are on a ferry and think you are on a scenic cruise. All around you is steep hills, incredibly lush forest and gorgeous waterways. A few houses dot along the shoreline but the only way in and out is by boat. Fantastic for those who want a very remote way of life.

By 6.00 we were in Picton, a pretty town at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, our destination for the night. We stayed at the Jasmine Court a 5 star Motel. It was lovely and had those little added touches such as CD player with its own CD collection as well as the compulsory spa bath.

After unpacking we walked into town to get a bite to eat. The town is pretty small but has a great selection of restaurants. We ate at the Barn Cafe and had a great meal with hearty portions.  

Thursday 17th February

We had been reasonably lucky with just booking our accommodation a day or two in advance but increasingly we were finding that our preferred Motel was fully booked so we started to book for longer periods in advance - especially if it was over a weekend period. The Jason's Guide proved to be invaluable. A good tip is that the Jason's guide is free from some motels and there is a similar guide free in the AA shops, we paid for our guide at a bookshop.

The night before we had ideally wanted to stop in Nelson but it had a conference on and everywhere was full to capacity. So first stop of the day was Nelson. The journey there through the sounds was breathtaking. We spotted several yachts anchored in beautiful uncrowded bays and wished we had Bagpuss with us. It really is a pretty area and we would have loved to have more time to explore the remoter area's.

Nelson is the South Islands second largest city and is a busy tourist haven. We had a quick tour round and liked what we saw. As we could only find a car parking spot with an hour's time limit on it, we bought a sandwich for lunch and stopped en route at a picnic spot to eat. The picnic spot had some traditional NZ tree's in it - most of the native trees have been replaced by trees grown for their wood. 

We had wanted to spend the night at Punakaiki but everywhere was full so we had no choice really but to stop en route at Greymouth at the Gables Motor Lodge. The Motel was fine - a large two storied 3 bedroomed place - but the town itself was a little odd. It used to be an old gold mining town and had that old Pioneer feel to it.

Although one of the restaurants looked OK nothing really tempted us so we decided to cook for ourselves. We met a lovely Australian lady and her daughter in the Supermarket who had lived in New Zealand for a year. She loved New Zealand and it was great to talk to her. Bev and her Dad cooked up some Spaghetti Bolognaise. They did a remarkable job given the small size of the pans. Allan tried again to spot the problem with the car's air-conditioning without success. Mum did a grand job of cleaning up the mess.

Friday 18th February

Next morning we decided to take a slight detour to see the local sea-lion reserve as recommended by the lady we had met in the Supermarket. Its a short drive out of town and to get to the sea-lions you have to take a well marked walk along the cliffs. The West Coast is pretty rugged as its pounded by the notorious Tasman Sea and the views are stunning. 

Soon we could see the sea-lions nestled on the rocks below sunning themselves. There was a good group of them and a lot of young who were enjoying themselves in the small pools. We love sea-lions from our trip to the Galapagos and it was nice to see them enjoying themselves in their natural environment again. 

From Greymouth we took the picturesque coast road and stopped en route at Hokitika, a small town which is a major centre for greenstone/jade. The craftmanship was amazing and we have never seen so many jade factories in one place before. The town is a real craft shop mecca and everywhere we went we were impressed by the quality of the merchandise. Two places we particularly liked were the glass shop which made the most amazing pieces of glassware in vibrant colours and the wool shop which stocked lots of possum wool products. Although Possums are a protected species in Australia, New Zealanders class them as a pest. Their fur is amazingly soft though and they use it to make everything from socks to jumpers. Must seem odd wearing rodent fur socks !

Next it was onto Punakaiki and the amazing Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. First stop was a bite to eat and the first taste of local pies for Bev's Mum and Dad.

The limestone rocks at Dolomite Point have formed into what looks like stacks of thin pancakes through a layering and weathering process known as stylobedding. The tide surges into caverns and rocks and squirts out in impressive guyser like blowholes.

The scale of the rocks is absolutely amazing and the walkways enable you to get really close. It's an amazing natural feature and was well worth a visit.

Unfortunately we still had a long way to go to reach our destination for the evening so it was back into the car and we headed towards Franz Joseph.

En route we got pretty low on petrol so had an anxious few miles until we were lucky enough to find a fuel station in a small village. The thing about the South Island is that you can drive for hours and hours and see hardly any cars let alone houses. Luck was smiling on us that day.

It was pretty late by the time we reached Franz Joseph and you could feel the chill in the air from the glacier. The key problem with this area is that accommodation is limited and we had really struggled to find anywhere to stay. We had ended up having to book ourselves into the only place left - The Glacier View Motel -  never a good sign. 

It had a great position as you could see the glacier from the Motel but it was pretty old fashioned and had that damp and cold feeling to it. 

That evening we went into town for a bite to eat. The restaurants were all pretty busy and we ended up getting a table at our third choice. Still the meal turned out to be great - 3 of us had a really fantastic chicken salad and Allan went for the lamb shanks - with a couple of side orders of fries as we were on holiday after all :)

Saturday 19th February

We were soon away in the morning and our first stop was the Franz Joseph Glacier. No where else in the world at this latitude have glaciers advanced so close to the sea than they have here in NZ. Franz Joseph like the Fox glacier which we visited later in the day is like a mighty river of ice. At times Franz Joseph can move up to 5m a day although 1m a day is typical. The glacier has actually advanced 1.7km since 1985 but since 1996 has been retreating again. Its still several kilometres back from its original 1865 position though; its marked out on the entry road.

The hills are alive with the sound of helicopters taking people up onto the glacier for a heli-hike or just for a closer look.

We took a short but steep walk along one of the pathways and were rewarded with a fantastic view of the ice face. It really is incredible to see its scale and size.  We were very lucky with the weather as visibility was perfect. Apparently this was the first day this week that it hadn't been obscured by clouds.

We were told that Fox was more accessible on foot so set off to see it - its just 25km away. Its wild to see how the glacier has carved out the valley. To get to Fox you have to drive across narrow banked up roads made out of small rocks with green glacial water running either side. Fantastic.

Once there you can get a great view of the glacier just a few minutes walk from the car park but we decided to walk right to the glaciers face - an hour or so each way. The last bit is pretty steep and follows a waterfall down the mountain side. It was a hot day so it was good to taste the ice cold fresh water. 

It was great to be able to get so close and you feel pretty small next to the Glacier face. There were chunks of ice in the green coloured glacial stream but they looked like they had been there for ages. Despite the sun's heat the glacial water was freezing. 

The great thing about all the natural wonders in New Zealand is that they are all well looked after and free.

We had another long day ahead of us as we were headed for Queenstown. So we were away by lunchtime following the coast down to Haast before heading inland. We were amazed by how many glacial streams we saw on the way all heading out to sea.

100km from Queenstown we came to Wanaka and its beautiful lake and mountains. Its set to be the next Queenstown but today is a very pretty little town in a picture perfect spot. It reminded us very much of the Lake District in England. We really loved it here and would have liked to stay longer but needed to get to Queenstown before nightfall. We did have time for a stroll around and a nice ice-cream though :) It certainly ranked high on our nicest place to live list though.

The journey into Queenstown is spectacular with Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountains as a backdrop. We knew it was a haven for adrenalin seekers and had expected it to be a bit crowded and tatty but its not. The views are magnificent and the town has a real buzz about it with lots of classy bars and restaurants. We were well impressed. Its got a great range of facilities and well deserves the title of 'adventure capital of the world'.  

Our accommodation at the Loft Motel was very central and it was great because we were able to step straight outside into the main town. So no sooner had we unloaded than we headed out for a bit of sightseeing and to find somewhere to eat. The town is very compact on the shores of the lake and has some great shops to look around.

Before long though hunger got the better of us and we spotted a great looking pizza restaurant called 'The Cow' and headed inside for a look. It has an open air fire inside with lots of small wooden tables set in nooks and crannies. It looked great but unfortunately was packed. A party had barged their way in front of us at the door and got the last table. We were offered one of two tables outside and hesitantly took a look. It turned out to be the best spot nestled at the end of a narrow corridor with comfy cushions to sit on and outdoor heating. It was a perfect. We all ordered a pizza and some garlic bread to start. The garlic bread turned out to be a whole freshly baked loaf - fantastic and so large we couldn't eat it all. Allan and Dad tried the beer and Mum and I has some great wine. We ordered the standard size pizza's and struggled to eat them. They were enormous and had tons of great topping. We really had a great night here. Fantastic food and a fab atmosphere being outside and warm. 

Sunday 20th February

As we wanted to see the famous Milford Sound we decided to break up the journey and stop the night at Te Anau, about a 2.5 hours drive away. We would stop at Queenstown another night on the way back.  

The fun thing about New Zealand is that roads are few and far between so we could only get there and back to Milford Sound by going through Queenstown.

Te Anau is a pretty little town on the shores of a lake - Lake Te Anau. The lake was gorged out by a glacier and its 417m deep, 53km long and 10 km across at its widest point making it the second largest lake in NZ. It takes its name from the caves discovered on its western shore - Te-Ana-au meaning 'cave with a current of swirling water'.

We had booked into a fantastic Motel called the Explorer Motor Lodge. It slept 6 and had huge rooms. The bathroom had a huge Jacuzzi bath and walk in shower. Don't think I have ever seen a bathroom so big. It was all very modern and well equipped as well - one of the best we have stayed in. 

Mum and Dad found a great bakery for lunch where they sampled some amazing tomato bread. Allan and Bev ended up in a dodgy pub on the waterfront where Bev was given her meal for free because the chef couldn't cook an omelette! The replacement meal was so disgusting ( salad dressing with a bit of salad plus the worst parts of the chicken complete with 50% undercooked skin !) she couldn't eat it and ended up getting a fantastic pie from the local gourmet pie shop instead. We should have gone there in the first place.

That afternoon we booked ourselves on a trip to visit the Glow-worm Caves. These impressive caves are part of Maori legends but were only discovered in 1948. The caves are only accessible by boat and we all expected it to be a short ride. We were surprised when it took nearly an hour on a fast boat. Once there the active cave system is magical, with water pools, whirlpools, and a glow-worm grotto in the inner reaches. The heart of the caves is reached by a system of walkways and two short punt journeys. You are split up into small groups to maximise the experience and really feel that you are underground as opposed to being in an artificial cave created for tourists. There's water gushing everywhere and you have to watch your step. The glow-worms can only be seen in the dark and were absolutely magical. Their luminous colour is designed to attract food. 

It was a really fantastic trip and far exceeded our expectations. Unfortunately you couldn't take pictures because it would disrupt the glow-worms but at least the trip left us with a very powerful memory.

As the Motel was so nice we decided to eat in. Bev created a chilli chicken dish with rice. She had to cook it in an electric pan and didn't feel it cooked it to her usual standard - tasted fine to the rest of us. Only problem was that the smell seemed to linger so we set about putting all the rubbish outside and opening all the windows - you can get charged an extra night if you leave cooking smells. It was still there the next morning but seemed to have gone by the time we left - thank goodness.

Before bed we all tried out the great Jacuzzi - a great way to end a day.

Monday 21st February

We were up early the next day for our journey to Milford Sounds. It's only 119km from Te Anau to Milford but its a twisty road and took 3 hours or so. The journey takes you along one of the most scenic roads you could hope for. The scenery was simply breathtaking and we could see waterfalls cascading down the rock faces everywhere. Pictures don't sum up what the eye can see unfortunately. 

By the time we arrived at the sounds the brakes smelled hot from all the hills we had descended - poor Pajero !. 

Milford Sound is one of New Zealand's most famous tourist destinations and is the most visited of the fjords as it is so instantly breathtaking. We had been warned to take bug repellent and as soon as we got out of the car to apply it were inundated by mosquitoes.  We have never seen so many so vicious. It got better after we had covered ourselves with spray and we left the car park area but we all succumbed to a bite or two - Dad getting the most. They obviously know where to come for a feed. 

There are a number of cruises around the Sounds - most take 2 hours. We had chosen to go with Red Boat cruises which had a nice modern fleet. Luckily we were on the 11.00 sailing and managed to avoid most of the bus tours as the boat was pretty empty.

The 22km long fjord is dominated by the beautiful 1695m high Mitre Peak. The calm dark waters mirror the sheer peaks that rise all around. We were lucky to have a beautiful clear day as the previous week had been cloudy. Milford also gets a lot of rain - 6m annually !!! There are a number of waterfalls to see en route and the boat backs in so close that you can feel the spray - fantastic ! One of the falls has a longer drop than Niagara. We also managed to spot a few sea lions basking in the morning sun.

As it was a calm day they ventured out in to the Tasman Sea so that we could see the entrance. Milford Sounds was discovered by accident as its very hard to see the entrance from sea. A ship was blown into the sounds during a storm. They only saw the entrance at the last moment just before they would have otherwise been battered against the cliffs.

Its a breath-taking place. Snow could still be seen on the peaks despite the unbelievable weather we had had. It was amazing to see trees clinging to the rock face and surviving. In patches it is bare where trees have fallen and it apparently takes many hundreds of years for them to regenerate. 

On our way back we tucked into the buffet - all you can eat for £10 whilst admiring the view.

After our sail we knew that we had a long drive back to Queenstown so were soon back on the road. We did stop en route to take a closer look at some of the waterfalls just minutes from the side of the road. The journey back is long but all the way the scenery is magnificent. 

By 7.00 we were back in Queenstown, had checked back into the Lofts Motel and had the washing machine on. Bev's Mum and Dad wanted to explore the town and pick up a few souvenirs so we went our separate ways for dinner. Mum ended up purchasing two beautiful jade ornaments and some beautiful paua shells - so it ended up being an expensive shopping trip for Dad! They ended up at a Noodle House for dinner and we ended up having a Curry. The curry house was packed as it had reduced its prices for the night. We ended up sharing a table with a couple who worked at the famous AJ Hacket Bungee jump. They said they jumped over 200 people a day - amazing !

Tuesday 22nd February

We took a last minute stroll around Queenstown before checking out of our Motel. It really is a great place and it was fantastic to see the morning light reflecting on the mountains and lake. Bev managed to get herself some of the beautiful paua shells just before we left as well. We would definitely come back here.

First stop of the day for us was the famous Shotover jet. We had heard so much about it - its a definite must do on a visit to Queenstown. The Shotover jet boat takes you on a 30 minute thrill seeking ride through some amazing canyons at speed. The drivers are so skilled they get incredibly close to rocks and fly along in just inches of water. The best bit is the 360 degree spins. It really is a fantastic experience and a memory that will stay with us for a long time. We all left on a real high.

Queenstown is synonymous with bungee and so our next stop was the historic Kawarau Suspension Bridge which spans a beautiful canyon. Its 43m from the jumping platform to the river. This was the worlds first commercial bungee site. We were there for 30 minutes or so and during that time there was a constant flow of jumpers. Most were pretty confident and just went for it - but there were a few who clung to the rails for quite some time before going. You can specify how wet you want to be from not wet at all to total body immersion in the water. However nervous they were all on a real high afterwards. If we had ever wanted to do a bungee this is definitely the place to do it. We were all a bit to chicken though :(

Next it was on to Arrowtown, a faithfully restored gold mining settlement. The town is lined with wooden buildings (over 60 from the 19th century - old for NZ) and apart from the tourist shops looks like a movie set for a western. We stopped at the Bakery for a fantastic pie for lunch. Mum had a wonderful strawberry muffin instead. Boy was it good. You just don't get bakeries like this in the UK anymore. As usual it was a glorious day.

Then it was onto Oamaru, our stop for the evening. On the way we passed by the hydro electric dams.

We arrived in Omaru about 4.00ish and just had time to check into our motel for the night before heading out to check on the local penguins - the key reason for coming to Omaru. We stayed at the Bellavista Motel.

First stop was the yellow-eyed penguins which come ashore each evening a couple of hours before sunset to feed their chicks. They nest at a place called Bushy Beach which has good vegetation. Its the loss of coastal forest that has made the yellow-eyed penguins the rarest in the world. The Department of Conservation has erected a lookout post along the cliffs but we were only able to see one penguin on the beach. The place was pretty busy and some people had already been there for several hours. After an hour or so we decided to grab a bite to eat and catch the blue penguins in town.

We liked the look of the Last Post, a renovated post office for dinner and had a fantastic meal - one of the best of our trip. Dad, Allan and Bev all had the chicken enchilada with fries and salad all served with sweet chilli sauce which was absolutely amazing. Mum had stuffed pork fillet with roasted vegetables - again fantastic. The food was so fresh and the portion sizes very generous. We really did have a great meal and would love to have stayed longer as the restaurant had a lovely friendly ambience but had to leave soon after we had eaten to catch the penguins. The menu at the restaurant was fantastic and we would have loved to had time to eat here again.

The blue penguins are more numerous and nest right in the centre of town around the harbour area. A nesting site has been built to keep out predators and a grandstand built for tourists to watch them waddling out of the water just after dusk. We were there for a good couple of hours and must have seen 30+ come ashore. The blue penguins are quite small but apparently were pretty fat in readiness for breeding. They seemed to take ages to hop ashore as they had to regularly stop for breath due to their increased weight. They were so lovely to watch and made the cutest of noises. Bev loves penguins and it was great to see them in their natural habit rather than in a zoo. 

By now it was 10.00ish so we headed home taking care not to run over a penguin on the way.

Wednesday 23rd February

Next day we set off for Christchurch where we had planned to stop for 2 nights. The scenery along this stretch of coast was the plainest we had seen - mainly because its pretty flat. Whilst in many ways it was still beautiful it just didn't have the grandeur of the other places that we had seen. Christchurch seemed huge in comparison to some of the other places that we had seen. Its the largest city on the South island.

First stop was to check into the motel - the Southern Comfort Motel - and then we headed straight into town for a look around. Christchurch is often described as one of the most English of cities due to its punts that glide down the river, its Anglican cathedral and trams. Whilst it does have touches of England we felt that the resemblance was small and were actually disappointed with the city. Perhaps our expectations had been built too high. We did like certain parts of the city and there are some nice older buildings but they seemed to be interspersed by suburban sprawl which lessened their impact.

We had dinner that evening on Oxford Terrace - known locally as "the strip" as it has the largest concentration of bars and restaurants. The place was buzzing with lots of people eating outside. It had a great atmosphere. We ended up in a very gothic looking place for a great burger and chips.

Thursday 24th February

Next day we decided to head first to the International Antarctic Centre which had won a tourism award.  The centre is the base for the NZ, US and Italian Antarctic teams. The museum is fascinating and has lots of exhibits, videos and hands on exhibitions. We particularly liked the Snow and Ice experience which allows you to experience a blizzard. They provide coats but its still pretty cold !!

We also enjoyed a trip on the Haagglund Antarctic Snowmobile which takes you across an outdoor adventure course that mimics conditions in the Antarctic. Allan got to sit upfront whilst we got to get thrown around in the back. It was great fun.

We really learnt a lot from our visit and could have spent even longer there as it was so interesting. Definitely worth a visit.

We decided to head to Lyttelton, Christchurch's port for a late lunch. Its described as an attractive small port town with historic buildings and cafe bars. The old antarctic exploration expeditions used to leave from here. Again it didn't meet expectations as the harbour is pretty commercial but we found a great cafe for lunch. From Lyttelton we drove along the Narrow summit road which gave fantastic views of the coast and hills. We stopped at a small seaside town called Sumner which was an idyllic spot where we bought some fantastic fresh bread from a bakery for dinner. Its a small seaside community with some amazing properties built into the hills and a nice range of shops and restaurants. A nice place to live. Then we drove to New Brighton to take a walk along its pier. Its an OK place but we much preferred Sumner. Before heading back we stopped at the local supermarket and bought some food for dinner as we had booked out the Motels barbeque.

We had a nice relaxing evening. Dad cooked a fantastic barbeque whilst Mum and I prepared some salad. Allan kept the beers flowing :) We had a great feast all washed down by some chilled NZ wine. After dinner we decided to try out the outdoor hot tub and pool. It was nice to let those bubbles do their work. Everyone made it in to the pool for a swim bar Bev as it was a bit cold compared to the tub.

Friday 25th February

Today we drove from Christchurch to Blenheim. Most of the journey is along the pretty coast road which can get quite twisty in places and hugs the beach.  Halfway between the two is Kaikoura, a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts. Its the place in New Zealand for whale and dolphin watching. We had hoped to get out for a trip but they turned out to be booked out days in advance which was a shame. 

The town itself is pretty ordinary so we didn't stop long. We had a great bite to eat in a local cafe. Great value and amazing portions.

From the road you could see plenty of seals relaxing in the bay. Fantastic.

Another reason for pushing on was that we wanted to visit Cloudy Bay Vineyard in Blenheim. Its one of Allan's favourite wines. There are loads of vineyards around Blenheim as its NZ's biggest wine growing district. They look so neat and beautiful and it was great to spot some of the wines we knew - Villa Maria and Montana being perhaps the most widely known.

We found Cloudy Bay just in time and headed straight to the tasting area. We were each given a list of all the wines they make and asked which we wanted to taste. We went for the Sauvignon Blanc first, Allan's favourite and then ended up tasting everything on the list and some more. We got a clean glass each time and small crackers to clear the palate. Everything was chilled to perfection. Mum liked their Pelourus Champagne the best ( the most expensive :)), we all stuck to the Sauvignon which was awesome. We liked it so much we bought a couple of bottles - not too bad at $25 each - about £10, especially considering the tasting had been free.

The Lonely Planet described Blenheim as 'a modern characterless place' so our expectations had been low. We actually liked it and felt it had been greatly undersold. 

After checking into our Motel - Blenheim Palms - we headed into town for a stroll and to find somewhere for dinner. Whilst there were a number of options nothing really took our fancy or was fully booked so we asked a local for their recommendation. We were told to take a cab to a local Italian restaurant just out of town that was very popular. Unfortunately when we got there it was fully booked so the driver took us around the corner to Whitehaven, a local winery with restaurant. Luckily they managed to squeeze us in and we had a great meal all beautifully served, washed down by a bottle of their finest. It was nice to be pampered.

On our way back we took a stroll around the local gardens and saw an unusual fountain that changed colours. Very pretty. Mum wanted a photograph with a particular colour scheme as the background and it took us quite a few tries to get it as no sooner did it appear than it changed again :)

Saturday 26th February

We were up early the next morning to make sure we caught our 11.00 am ferry in time. Blenheim is just 29km's from Picton so it was a nice short journey. After checking the car in we still had an hour or so to wait so headed into town to buy a sandwich for the journey. We stopped at a great bakery for a fantastic coffee and bought some great sandwiches. The shelf was stacked with every conceivable delight all guaranteed to add pounds but worth it.

Once again Allan had to reverse the car into a tiny space - this time we didn't say a word ! It was pretty full but we managed to find a nice table which afforded great views of the Marlborough Sounds on the way out. It really is a stunningly beautiful place and just takes your breadth away. Luckily for us it was a nice calm journey again and we were soon back in Wellington.

Time was unfortunately running out for us so we had to get a few miles under our belt. We had booked into Hastings that evening - quite a journey - so as soon as we were off the ferry we headed North. We had forgotten how steep and twisty the roads through the Hutt Valley are. Its incredibly beautiful but amazing to think that this is one of the main roads to the Capital.

Part way there we stopped again at the Bird Sanctuary we had driven past on the way down to try and catch sight of the Kiwi. Unfortunately for us it had just closed. What a shame.

We made pretty good time and arrived in Hastings at about 6pm. Hastings is only 20km South of Napier but shared the same fate in 1931 when its buildings were destroyed by an earthquake. Like Napier its noted for its Art Deco and Spanish Mission style architecture. Its a pretty town with flowers adorning every shop. What's interesting is that it has a train that runs straight through a roundabout !!

We stayed at the Claremont Motor Lodge in two nice studio units. Just as we were due to head out for dinner it started to rain so Bev drove rather than us walking. She had spotted an Indian Restaurant on the way into town that she liked the look of so we headed there first. It was built in a beautiful wooden villa with Kauri wood floors and was pretty empty - normally not a good sign. However it had a good vibe so we decided to give it a try and boy were we pleased we did as the food was fantastic. It was all freshly cooked (as opposed to being reheated) and we had some of the best Indian food and Keema Nan's that we have ever had. The restaurant hadn't been opened that long and we hope it's successful as the food was first class. It was definitely part of our 'top 3 meals on our journey' list. We all left contented but full :)

Sunday 27th February

We had originally wanted to stop at Havelock North on Saturday evening but everywhere was fully booked so we decided to check it out before heading off. Its just 5km's east of Hastings and is a beautiful little town. It feels pretty new and has a great village atmosphere and some classy buildings. Its definitely one of the top places we have seen to live in NZ. The local cafe's were overflowing with locals having brunch. 

Next stop was Te Mata Peak which provided spectacular views over the Heretaunga Plains to Hawkes Bay. On the drive up we passed some amazing properties tucked into the hills. Beautiful. Unfortunately for us there was a fire at the top so we weren't allowed in. Still we had seen some great views along the way.

As we had to head back through Hastings we stopped at Rush Munro's famous ice-cream garden on the way through. Its famous for rich, homemade ice-cream loaded with fruit. Unfortunately Allan and I went for the Hockey Pokey (vanilla with chunks of toffee) which was so rich it made Allan ill. 

We had decided to try to see the Coromandel Peninsula before heading back to Auckland which meant another long journey to Thames. Thames is the main town at the edge of the peninsula.

We had to retrace some of our steps through Napier and Taupo. The countryside whilst different from the South island is equally beautiful and we marvelled again at how many trees New Zealand has - they are everywhere, its simply incredible. Lunch was taken on the shores of Taupo amongst beautiful scenery.

Next stop was Tirau, a small tourist town which gave us a chance to get out and stretch our legs. The town is famous for a large sheep and dog made out of corrugated iron - a person is the size of the dogs tongue. Mum bought a beautiful spoon stand from a local potter. He made fantastic stuff - if we weren't living on the boat I could have bought loads.

We arrived at Thames at about 6pm, just as the light was fading. We found our accommodation straight away - Tuscany on Thames. We had a beautiful large two bedroomed apartment. It was definitely one of the best we had stayed in with comfortable sofa's and a fab bathroom complete with jacuzzi bath. Allan took a snooze as he still wasn't feeling well from the ice-cream he had eaten earlier. The town of Thames is fairly functional but we found a nice restaurant to eat in which was remarkably busy for a Sunday night. The food was great but we had to wait absolutely ages to get served. They were very apologetic and knocked a little off the bill as a goodwill gesture. 

Monday 28th February

We liked the Motel so much we tried to stay another night but alas the two bedroomed apartment had already been booked, so next morning we checked out and headed along the Western coast road.  The road runs right along the shore and is very twisty in places. Pretty houses and baches (Kiwi's holiday homes) lined the way. The views were magnificent. 

The Coromandel Peninsula is very popular with Aucklanders as it is so near and we could see why - it had that nice untouched sea-side feel.

We headed inland a little to visit the Rapaura Watergardens and the scenery was magnificent - very hilly, green and tropical. We could have been in the South Pacific. Unfortunately when we arrived we were surrounded by mosquitoes as it had rained overnight. As the water gardens were in the middle of the forest we knew that we would be eaten alive and decided to head on - it was a shame we didn't get to see it.

Next stop was Coromandel town for a spot of lunch and a quick look around.  We settled on a nice bakery where Allan had a fantastic bacon sandwich which we all looked enviously at when it arrived as it was cooked to perfection. Allan spotted someone he used to work with some 10 years previously in the restaurant and went over for a chat and to catch up on old times - its a small place isn't it. He was a Kiwi living in the UK, visiting family.

We had booked into Whitianga that evening and decided to head over the 309 to get there. Its 26km and most of it is on unsealed roads. On our way there we stopped at the Kauri Grove. Kauri trees are very famous in New Zealand but are now pretty rare. They can reach 60m and have a trunk of over 5m+. A short walk through the lush forest led us to a small clump of magnificent Kauri trees. They are incredibly beautiful and stand very straight and majestic. It was great to be able to get right up to them. The New Zealanders use Kauri to make some beautiful wooden ornaments, utensils and furniture. The wood is of the highest quality, very hard with beautiful markings. As the trees are now protected they can only use reclaimed Kauri dug from the ground.  On our way back we saw the famous Siamese Kauri tree which forks from the ground.  

We also stopped to take a look at a couple of falls along the way. One in particular - the Waiau falls looked particularly inviting. If it had been a brighter day we would definitely have gone in for a swim. Dad was sorely tempted.

Before long we had reached Whitianga nestled in Mercury Bay. Mercury Bay was given its name by Captain Cook  when he observed the transit of Mercury across the face of the sun while the Endeavour was anchored in the bay in 1769. Its a very pretty spot and our accommodation, the Waterfront Motel was right opposite the white sand beach.

We found that Motel prices in Coromandel were definitely on the high side versus other places we had stayed.

After unpacking we took a walk along the beach, past the pretty Marina into town. Although there were lots of nice restaurants we decided to make the most of our sea-front view and eat at home. After a quick stop at the local supermarket we were loaded up with a freshly cooked chicken, salad, coleslaw, cheese, fresh bread etc...

We had chilled a bottle of Cloudy Bay and had that with some cheese as we watched the sun set over the bay. It was a beautiful red sky and we headed out for a quick stroll along the beach before the light went. Mum managed to collect some beautiful shells but we ended up putting them back the next day as they were a little smelly. It was a beautiful spot to spend our last night on the road so as to speak.

 

 

© Copyright Allan & Bev Dornan 2016