From the glaciers I was bound south again. The plan was to head through Queenstown to [the relatively large town of] Te Anau, where I’d be likely to get enough signal to work, and then proceed on to tiny, cute, beautifully situated Manapouri for my cruise on Doubtful Sound, followed by an approximately two hour, twisty and ultra scenic drive out to Milford for another cruise and some hiking.
Just an hour south of the glaciers, beautiful, sunny coastlines appeared, consistent with the country’s unstinting propensity to shift and change dramatically in the space of shockingly few kilometers.
ahhh - beach!
view from Knight's Point, along coast between Fox Glacier and Haast Village
yeah, that's right - I was tromping around on a big chunk of ice just a few hours ago.
then the road turned inland and mountainous again....
I stopped by some really amazing, thundering falls just beyond Haast Pass, which one of my intrepid Fox guides had told me to be sure to look for.
this area was one of the most beautiful I've seen in the entire country, Cameron Flats. It was a flower-filled valley with a river running through it, embraced on all sides by stunning alpine scenery. I seriously contemplated just pulling the van over and never leaving... although I was told later by a fellow glacier trek attendee, who I ran into the next day, that the sandflies were particularly vicious there - likely due to the protected-by-mountains windless calm of the valley.
I overnighted at Lake Hawea.
first glimpse of the lake
a bit long, dusty, and bumpy drive to get to the Kidds' Bush DOC site, but what a great view from my bed!
The next morning I continued on…
my first encounter with stock -- sheep, in this case, obviously -- in the road. man, were these animals dumb. It was impossible to nudge through them. they kept changing direction; first one, then all the others, following. then they'd reverse, then reverse again, then stop to nibble a bit of roadside grass, then one would get spooked again, then run the other direction, the others trailing. I was struck, though, but how very much they moved like a stream swirling around rocks.
… proceeding through the less traveled Crown Range….
the rocky, grass tufted Crown Range road through Cardrona
the road opened out to a staggering panoramic view that reminded me of Tuscany
the snaky descent down to Arrowtown and Queenstown
… to get to teensy, quaint gold-rush town, Arrowtown, where I took a short break for lunch.
Arrowtown: cute, very touristy, but with sophisticated dining options and a teeny, hip movie theater with comfy loveseats and drinks on offer.
lunch on Arrowtown's leafy green park...
... which consisted of venison pie and light, gingery Monteith's (a South Island brewery) Summer Ale
From there it was on to Queenstown, where I intended to get provisions. Q’town is an international adrenaline-seekers’ haven and full of the young and dreadlocked and backpack bearing, as I’ve mentioned before.
Queenstown waterfront; the Remarkables range in the background
I was only able to take the frenetic, touristic vibe for a little while before rushing on toward Te Anau.
Lake Wakatipu, en route out of Queenstown
there were a number of nice little turnoffs on the route between Queenstown and Te Anau, including this lovely waterfall, though it was plagued with sandflies.
I worked alongside the lake in town for a little while, then headed out to the Queen’s Reach DOC campsite about 6 km outside of town for a peaceful night’s sleep among dozens of other campers spread widely over the camp area.
heh - amusing street sign in Te Anau
dinner at Queen's Reach - cereal with fresh strawberries, hot cocoa, and my Kindle
camp site at Queen's reach - turn left at the shrub.