Tuesday, 11 October 2011

NZ travelogue: Day Two

The time we spent on the road during the second full day of our holidays in New Zealand turned out to be longer than expected. It wasn't that we travelled a farther distance than the previous day. I think it was about the same distance. But somehow, we spent a longer time driving around on Day Two. Perhaps it was due to us stopping a bit too often to take in the sights. At the Archway Motel in Wanaka where we stayed at journey's end, I joked with the proprietress, telling her that we had taken too much time stopping practically every 100 metres or so.

There is a little grain of truth in this, actually, because we were so taken in by the scenery. Okay, we might not have stopped every 100 metres of the way, but we stopped every time we saw something interesting or breath-taking.

For example, we left the Pinegrove Cottage only at 10 o'clock in the morning. We wanted to leave earlier but we were so taken in by the garden. Little stone statuettes, pine trees, huge pine cones and a fat, inquisitive tabby cat that refused to let us carry him. But as you can see, we did manage to do that eventually! Huge monster.

So we left Twizel at 10 o'clock. Set our GPS for Aoraki Mount Cook and drove all the way along the Lake Pukaki to the Mount Cook national park. Then it was another long drive back along the same road to Twizel before continuing along the highway to Wanaka. We only arrived at this town at about 6p.m. by which time it was almost dark.

The drive from Twizel to the national park was when my wife got her first reasonably close look at snow (this being one of the reasons why I wanted to go to NZ in the first place). The rolling hills had given way to the snow-capped alpine mountains. This, unfortunately, was about the nearest that we got to the snow experience.

When we stopped at the Glentanner Park along the way to the national park, we wanted to take a helicopter ride to the snowy mountain top and perhaps stop there for a few minutes. However, we were told that it was too windy that morning for the helicopters to fly. So that put paid to our intention. My wife would have to admire the snow from a distance.

Omarama? Where's Omarama? Oh, you mean that sheep town that we passed right through without my heart skipping a beat? Great, that was one of the few hiccoughs of our travel. We missed out completely on the town. Had meant to stop at this large merino sheep sculpture at the corner of Omarama Avenue and Chains Hill highway. The sculpture is representative of the town's main obsession with its livelihood, sheep rearing. What was I doing, forgetting about that??

That apart, the rest of the drive was interesting but not particularly uneventful. Uneventful meaning nothing happened. Interesting because we had to wind through the Lindis Pass. The drive took us up the mountain and down again, up another mountain and down again, etc. Drove at speeds not exceeding 65 kilometres per hour at many stretches. Here is one of the stops along the way.

Quite liked the interesting rock formations, especially this layered limestone outcrop. There were many others. Seemed to me that even in a small place like the South Island, different areas have their own distinct geological differences. But of course, it isn't totally unexpected because the country as a whole is located in a geologically active region. The landscape is ever changing.

And finally, just before we entered Wanaka itself, we crossed this magnificent one-lane bridge on Kane Road which crossed the beginnings of the massive Clutha River system. The bridge is obviously very old and must have been an engineering feat in the past. As no attempt had been made to widen or modernise it, still features only a single lane for traffic to get through.

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