We made it home last night after a week in New Zealand. The south island was beautiful, if a bit wet on the west coast.
Last Thursday we flew into Christchurch and had just a few hours to catch our bearings. We walked around the city center and did a bit of shopping. Dinner was at Winnie Bagoes – a very creative gourmet pizza restaurant. I heartily recommend it to anyone visiting Christchurch.
On Friday we started our whirlwind tour around the island. Friday night was in Queenstown after viewing several lakes and hundreds of snow-capped mountains. The scenery was gorgeous, and Frank and Betsy took hundreds of digital photos. The countryside was covered in beautiful purple and pink lupins. No photos in this post because I’m writing it on my phone (good way to use my commute time).
Saturday’s five-hour bus ride took us over the mountains to Milford Sound on the west coast. The New Zealand Alps split the island north to south. They’re tall enough to affect the weather and keep the rain clouds on the west coast. We were “fortunate” enough to get first hand experience of this weather pattern. There was plenty of rain and gusty wind while we were out on the sound. Betsy was well prepared and spent most of her time outside on the top deck of the boat. While the rain and clouds cut down on the visibility, the water falls were spectacular. After our five hour bus ride back to Queenstown we were damp and tired.
Sunday it really started to rain. We heard that the storm had followed us across the Tasman Sea from Brisbane. Again, we were on the bus most of the day, driving from Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier. We were booked on a hike to view the glacier, so off we went, in the rain. Due to the downpour, we couldn’t walk all the way to the glacier and had to be content with viewing it from a distance.
On the ride from Franz Josef to Greymouth on Monday morning we saw several flooded river beds. Most of the rivers we had seen earlier were braided rivers with several smaller stream beds within the larger, mostly dry, riverbed. Not on Monday. These rivers stretched from bank to bank, and sometimes beyond. The rain followed us all the way to Greymouth, and then it followed us on the TranzAlpine Railway all the way to Arthur’s Pass. East of the divide we got great views of mountains, gorges, and the Canterbury Plains.
The highlight of our remaining two days in Christchurch was our visit to the Arts Centre on Monday. There were lots of crafty shops to browse through. I bought some Merino Possum yarn as well as some Merino / possum / silk hand-dyed spinning fibres. The spinners and weavers in Christchurch run a co-op in the Arts Centre where they sell both fibres and hand crafted items. We visited Anne Field’s studio where she was warping her loom with optical fibres.
All in all, it was a great trip. Great scenery, great food and great shopping (for fibre-y goodness).