A Travellerspoint blog

Day 10 - Wanaka to Haast

rain 10 °C

Woke to another nice morning in Wanaka but time to say goodbye to this side of the Alps for a while and head for the West Coast. The drive is very picturesque all the way and takes you alongside Lake Hawea, then back the Lake Wanaka, then through the Haast Pass which has some lovely rapids, waterfalls, river and mountain views then in to Haast. We meet the rain just past the Gates of Haast and by the time we arrive in Haast it is raining steadily. We had thought about driving to Jacksons Bay but decided against it - the misty rain means that it is hard to see anything. We cant even get a good look at the Haast River here. We explore the litte town looking for whitebait for lunch - 1st cafe dont even have it on the menu, 2nd one does but out of stock, third one - bingo! We munch on our delicious whitebait sandwiches on the cafe/local store. Things are basic and down to earth here - a stark contrast to Wanaka. As the weather is a bit limiting we decided to call in to the visitor centre and were pleasantly surprise - they have a big display area with lots of info about the history of the area, the landscape, flora, fauna, etc. We while away some time there then as the weather still hasnt lifted we settle into our room at the Heartand Hotel for a bit of R&R. By all accounts their restaurant and bar are excellent so we will eat there tonight .... hopefully we will find some more whitebait.
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Posted by nzaqua 19:20 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 9 - Wanaka

sunny 27 °C

We spent the morning at Puzzling World, enjoying the illusions then getting thoroughly lost in the maze but we did eventually make it out! Then a bit of a drive around Wanaka. It was a scorching hot, sunny day and the lake was looking gorgeous in the sun. We had heard the local gelato was unbeatable so purchased an icecream each which we ate sitting by the lake enjoying the views. It was probably the nicest icecream I have ever had - delicious. Our tour guide for the afternoon Wine Tour picked us up from our motel at 1pm and we were off for a wonderful afternoon tasting local wines. Everyone knows the Pinot Noirs here are wonderful and we tasted some really good ones, including a few we would not be able to afford to buy, but we also tasted some nice Riesling and Gewurztraminer. We purchased a nice selection from the 5 wineries we visited (Wooing Tree, Rockburn, Quartz Reef, Akarua, and Northburn) and were returned to our accommodation at about 6pm! Our tour guide had recommended a local cafe within walking distance so we headed off there in search of some food to balance off the afternoon's wine consumption and enjoyed a pleasant meal on a lovely evening. A great day enjoying what Wanaka has to offer.
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Posted by nzaqua 11:04 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 8 - Cromwell to Wanaka

sunny 26 °C

We woke this morning to clear blue skies and the promise that it would be a warm day and it has been. They forecast 25 degrees and it would have been all of that due to only a very light breeze and the blue skies that havent left us all day. We cooked breakfast in our large villa kitchen - the last of the Akaroa smoked salmon with a poached egg on top and a slice of award winning Leeston bacon on the side - then ate it on our deck overlooking our little lagoon on the edge of Lake Dunstan. Our first visit for the day was Old Cromwell, a little town reconstructed from buildings that used to be where Lake Dunstan now is. We wandered about poking in and out all of the old buildings. Most interesting. Then we headed to Bannockburn as I read that it was worth a look. It was a short and pretty drive there and back to Cromwell with some lovely views. This is where some of the better known Otago Pinots come from - Mt Difficulty, Carrick, etc. We then drove up the east side of the lake past Bendigo Station to Tarras. We stopped there and looked in the little shops and chatted with the locals. We purchased local eggs, freshly baked bread and Cromwell made apricot juice to top up our breakfast supplies, It appears that most of the shops in town are owned by the Perriam family, the owners of Bendigo Station and friends of Vivienne and Barrie's. Time to head for Wanaka. I am sure Wanaka is picturesque most days but it is stunning today with the blue sky and the snow covered mountains in the background sparkling in the sun. We wandered around the town and along the lake front then had lunch in a cafe with the local Brewski Pilsener on tap - a pint each with a beef pie, then wandered around some more. After checking into the Moorings, our accomodation and discovering that we had a room with a lovely deck overlooking the lake, we decided to stay in tonight so walked back to the town centre to purchase some more Brewski and a bottle of local Pinot Noir and quiz the locals about the best fish and chip shop for later. Armed with supplies and knowledge we return to our lodgings to enjoy the sun and the views.
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Posted by nzaqua 21:24 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 7 - Oamaru to Cromwell

sunny 23 °C

We spent the evening in Oamaru at the Portside Restaurant which is right by the sea with lovely views next to the little blue penguin place. When we came out we could hear quite a racket. We later learned that this was the penguin chicks and parents calling to each other as the parents came ashore with food (which they do around dusk every night). Next morning we spent a bit more time investigating Oamaru including some stunning views from the lookout on top of the hill then hit the road. First stop, the Moeraki Boulders which were interesting. We then headed to Palmerston where we turned inland and drive through some lush green farmland and over rolling hills until we reached Ranfurly which was our lunch stop. The visitor centre/museum looked interesting but was closed. I was exploring the old railway station when a bunch of mountain bikers chatting happily amongst themselves went past and realised I was standing beside the rail trail. By now, the morning cloud had disappeared and it was a hot sunny day so we sought a local cafe with outdoor seating. After a snack, cold drink and chat with the locals we were on our way again. As we travelled the terrain got less fertile looking and more rocky. The mountains were also getting closer. We arrived in Clyde and spent quite some time looking at the old buildings etc. What a lovely wee town, nestled beside the Clutha River. Next up the road a bit to look at the dam. A lot smaller than Benmore but the spillways were open so quite spectacular to watch. We carried on past what used to be the Clutha River but is now the bottom end of Lake Dunstan, through Cromwell (we will explore that tomorrow) and on to our accomodation at the Pisa Range Lake Resort. We have a generous size, luxurious villa with large deck and outdoor spa pool right on the lake's edge. It is a gorgeous evening so a soak in the spa with a glass of local wine was a must followed by a delicious meal at the restaurant on site.
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Posted by nzaqua 10:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 6 - Twizel to Oamaru

sunny 20 °C

We spent yesterday evening at the local pub. I dont think many tourists go there - everyone else there was in one big group and it was raffle night. We enjoyed just watching the proceedings then ate in the bistro that was part of the pub. It was a real traditional bistro with no frills, good value, hearty meals. This morning dawned a beautiful blue sunny day. We decided to go walking and find somewhere local for brekkie. We found the local cafe and enjoyed an excellent breakfast while sitting in the sun. Time to say farewell to Twizel. We drive through Omarama known for gliding and it would have been a perfect day for it - blue skies and only a very light breeze. We have already left the barren Mckenzie basin behind and now driving through lush farmland. This was to be the case right though to Oamaru. We soon came upon Lake Benmore, NZ's largest man made lake. They have done a great job of creating a picturesque recreation area here - there are camping spots all around Lake Benmore and Lake Aviemore, fishing, boat ramps, picnic spots, etc. We have become very interested in the Benmore/Waitaki hydro system having been to Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Lake Ohau, and Twizel which are all part of it so now we get a chance to see the centre of it - the Benmore Dam. We spent quite a while at the visitor centre finding out how it all came about and how it works - fascinating - then on the recommendation of the man in the visitor centre we drove across the top of the dam and up the side of Lake Aviemore then across the top of the Aviemore Daam before rejoining the main road - most scenic and interesting. We next stopped at Kurow and ate lunch in the garden of the local cafe basking in the spring sunshine. Once in Oamaru, we explored the Victorian precinct for a while, purchased a bottle of local Sauv and are now relaxing at the Oamaru Motor Lodge.
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Posted by nzaqua 20:59 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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