23.02.2014 - 25.02.2014 22 °C
We are now in a strange little place called Hokitika on the west coast of South Island. We are staying overnight before moving on to the northern tip of South Island where we plan to spend a few days at the Abel Tasman National Park. Interestingly Hokitika is the main place in a book about the Gold Rush in NZ in the 1880s called The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which won the Booker Prize this year and we are reading this book on our travels. It's an excellent book by the way. The town is very small but neat and tidy and there is only one place to eat "Stumpers" which is a typical pub cum diner. We had excellent lamb dinners!
Anyway moving back to Queenstown this really is the adrenalin capital of NZ. There are so many ways to scare yourself silly but we opted for just two. Frank jumped off a cliff, see photo and then we both took an exhilarating ride on the Shotover Jet Boat down a very narrow gorge with umpteen 360 degree spins on route. On our second day which we both enjoyed the most, we took a flight in a Cessna plane from Queenstown to Milford Sound over spectacular snow covered peaks and then a cruise up and down Milford Sound with many waterfalls, near vertical cliff faces and fur seals basking on the rocks. Finally a return flight back over Lake Te Anau and more mountains to Queenstown. It was simply stunningly beautiful and what's more the weather was perfect with clear blue skies and continuous sunshine. This area does experience up to 7 metres of rain a year so we were very fortunate.
We were really tired on our return to the campervan and crashed out for 9 hours sleep - most unusual these days. In fact we are sleeping so well in our little bunk above the cab that we're wondering about selling the house and buying a campervan!
Today we drove up to Hokitika (about 500 km). It was quite a long drive but the mountains and rivers were stunning and the roads were very quiet. There are supposed to be penguins nesting on the beach here but we haven't been able to spot any despite two visits to the beach. The weather has again been very good, sunny with clouds only around the mountain tops. It can be quite chilly in the mornings though. We can hear the Tasman Sea from the campsite so we should soon be asleep . . . .