South Island - going South13/10/2011
We set off from Picton heading South and straight for Marlborough, the wine region, to taste the finest Sauvignon Blanc (amongst others) the south has to offer. Our first stop was Whites Bay, a stunning location for our first night on the island. The plan for day 2 was to hire bikes and do a tour of the vineyards but the weather didn't have the same plan for us so we hid in our trusty bluebird and did a slightly more civilised tour just going to two "cellar doors" (Villa Marie and Brancott) and having a fabulous meal at the latter. Admittedly we probably shouldn't have driven after this but there was whales and sealions ahead of us to tempt us on so on we went to Kaikoura. Unfortuately a combination of weather and costs prevented us seeing whales this time around but we did find sealions and also enjoyed a great crayfish which the area is also famous for.
After Kaikoura we headed to Christchurch to see where our friend from China, Taylor, lived and what the recent earthquakes had done to the city. Despite all the talk we still weren't really prepared for how much damage mother nature had done to this city. There was little there to be done or really seen, despite the clear efforts being made to get it back to normal, so we headed on to cross Arthurs Pass and get to the West Coast.
As we headed south the journey became less about what we did and more and more about what we saw. We started to measure time by days between hot showers, distance by scenery changes and location by the number of sand flies! Everything was positive except the nasty sand flies which really are a force to be reckoned with, and apparently this is a comparatively quiet time of year for them, but any tiny insect that sounds like rain hitting the tent in the morning and draws blood from its bite deserves what it gets!
The west coast is infamous not only for the sandflies but also for its rain, however after 4 days of rain on the east coast and as we crossed Arthurs Pass, we had nothing but wonderful sunshine.
So, in summary, our trip south on the South Island:
- - Marlborough - great wine
- - Kaikoura - over priced
- - Christchurch - temporarily closed
- - Arthurs Pass - sadly raining
- - Lake Mahināpua - washing in gold (literally)
- - Wanaka - stunning (mountains)
- - Queenstown - touristy but beautiful
- - Milford Sounds - fire (good) and sandflies (bad)
- - Gore - nice
- - Catlins - stunning (beaches)
Next to head north again with as little back tracking as possible...