We left Abel Tasman National Park and the city of Nelson under sunny skies. Our plan was to drive to the west coast of the island and then travel south, exploring for a few days, until we reached Queenstown - our final destination in New Zealand.
About two hours into the trip the weather changed. Clouds, wind and rain stayed with us for the next two days and 600K of coastal roads. We'd hoped our overnight stay at a beach front cottage in Hokitika would allow us some time to spot nesting blue penguins. No luck - the weather was so nasty even the penguins stayed off the beach!
Traveling up into the mountains from the coast to Queenstown was exhilarating, if a bit unnerving at times. The narrow road had many single lane bridges, blind curves, and mud slides from the recent rains. Frequently, traffic was brought to a standstill while crews cleared and stabilized the roads.
Queenstown is located on Lake Wanaka and known as the Adventure Capital of New Zealand. Jet boating, sky diving, river rafting, hang gliding, swinging across canyons on ropes, zip lines, sail boarding...you name it and they do it! Bungy jumping got its start here and we stopped to watch one courageously crazy person after another make the leap.
|Lake Wanaka stretches for about 90K with Queenstown near its northern end.|
The highlight of our trip to the South Island came when we took a day long trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound. New Zealand has many quaint villages, but for us the country is all about its natural beauty so it seemed only fitting that our last day would be spent in one of its most spectacular locations. Here are a few shots from the trip.
Of course, we couldn't leave New Zealand without posting at least one adorable sheep shot....baaaabaaaa New Zealand!