This is a bit of a catch all blog post that takes us to Queenstown from Marlborough via one night stays at Kaikoura – it rained so didn’t go out whale watching, Timaru – it rained and we didn’t see that penguins feeding their babies, Mount Cook – it didn’t rain and was stunning, Lake Wanaka – it rained and we booked our boat trip around the Whitsundays!
The drive from Blenheim (Marlborough) to Kaikoura was absolutely stunning following the East coast road all the way down. The clouds and sea mist meant visibility was a trifle over 30 feet but added to the atmosphere. Cracking drive.
Kaikoura is the home of whale watching and swimming with dolphins and all that jazz and has a beautiful backdrop of snow capped mountains. So it was a bit of a shame that all boat trips were cancelled and the cloud was lower than a dwarf’s expectations. We cooked some lovely fajitas (that’s a hard j) for dinner with the Framingham Gerwurztraminer – big healthy dollops of lychee and Turkish delight.
The next morning the sky was a little brighter so we took some photos before heading south towards Timaru which would be our stopping off point to Mount Cook.
The drive to Timaru was gorgeous with the English weed broom glowing bright yellow on every hillside for the first 50ks. Unfortunately Kiwis don’t seem to like what we call gorse all that much and are trying to rid themselves of this accursed pest by bringing in the broom beetle to kill it off. How did that woman fare who swallowed the spider?
When we arrived in Timaru we were told that penguins come ashore at night and feed their young so we went off walking and looking for the waddling crittters. We didn’t manage to see any and as we reached our furthest point from where we were staying the heavens opened. It was that fine rain that soaks you right through. My inherited waterproof jacket from Annie’s car was not up to the job of fighting off the fine rain and by the time we made it back I felt a lot like a mop.
An early start from Timaru had us pounding across the tarmacked expanse of central New Zealand as we climbed onwards and (d’uh) upwards towards the highest mountain in all of Australasia standing at a whopping 3,754m tall. In 1991 it was 3,764m tall but a huge avalanche knocked off 10m from the top and caused a scar twice the height of the Eiffel Tower. Nasty.
A quick pie and chips for me and mountaineers’ soup for Jen and we were off scaling these improbably heights. Well actually we sauntered along the valley floor climbing an unimpressive 80m until we could see the terminal face of the Hooker glacier. It was pretty dirty in all honesty but the icebergs floating in the lake were a nice touch and some of the views were absolutely stunning. Well worth the crampons, ice picks and ropes we didn’t buy.
That evening we retired to our little room with cracking views back up towards Mount Cook and despatched a lovely Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris (2012) with strong citrus flavours and excellent length on the palette.
Next day was off to Lake Wanaka which really was a complete washout until the early evening when we were able to cook an enormous steak that really was the size of your head unless you have one of those freakishly large heads. It was preceded by the Frivoli from Wither Hills. It was just as we remembered, fresh, bubbly and an excellent pilot drink. We were drinking it in celebration of booking our boat trip in the Whitsunday Islands. A worthy reason to celebrate I’m sure you’ll agree.
The next morning I woke well before dawn to watch the United Arsenal game and it is safe to say that is one game of football that should be forgotten very quickly. Neither side deserved to win and as a further punishment it is international week this week as well!
Still Queenstown was next and boy that was fun.