The Last Leg

Queenstown North to Christchurch

Wednesday 17th October

I left Queenstown on a new bus with a new bunch of people and a new driver, Hunter, a young Maori guy.

Our destination for the day was Aoraki Mount Cook, we stopped in a small town called Omarama for lunch then continued North through Mackenzie Country. We had a few stops at viewpoints along the way before stopping to take a fairly long 5-hour hike to the Hooker Glacier Lake, which was spectacular with beautiful blue water.

Once down from the high ground we checked into our hostel, the Mount Cook Lodge, where a welcoming bath was waiting for me. A nice homemade meal and a beer finished off a really nice, but tiring day.  We left Nadine behind as she had booked a Heli-Hike up the mountain a few days later, we met up with her later in Christchurch.

Thursday 18th October

We had a fairly later start this morning, so after a good breakfast, we took another hike up to the Tasman Glacier Lake, another beautiful blue lake with spectacular views of Mount Johnstone and Mount Cook.

To allow one of the group off to catch a bus to Christchurch, we stopped in Lake Tekapo, where we had lunch before heading to Rangitata, our overnight stop, again there was the opportunity to take some photographs of the mountains and lakes on the way to Rangitata, stopping off for supplies in a town called Geraldine, which was a bit weird as one of my friends is named Geraldine.

Once there I took yet another hike down to the Rangitata River Gorge, one more Lord of the Rings location, this time Rohan with Edoras (Mount Sunday), it was a fairly long trek, there and back but the sights and location made it worthwhile. Another nice day in good company.

 

Friday 19th October

Off to Christchurch this morning, my final stop on my New Zealand journey, I had lunch in Ashburton, a nice town on the outskirts of Christchurch then carried on to our accommodation in the All-Stars Hostel, this is a very clean and modern hostel and much better than some I have stayed in during my travels.

After catching up with my laundry, a couple of us took a walk into town, I was quite surprised to see all the changes caused by the 2011 earthquake, the beautiful cathedral that I remember is still in a very sorry state.  A bite to eat in town, then a stroll back to the hostel for an early night.

Saturday 20th October

Today I decided to treat myself to a trip on the TranzAlpine train to Greymouth, staying in Greymouth overnight before returning by the bus tomorrow. I was up at 6:00am and took a shuttle to the station with my camera fully loaded ready to take advantage of the scenery. The journey was very good with many interesting things to see, though I did find the movement of the train soporific and I had to fight at times to keep my eyes open.

Once I arrived in Greymouth, I headed to the accommodation called Noah’s Ark, a quirky little place full of animal paintings and was put into the Monkey room. I then went for a walk around town stopping in Monteith’s Brewery for lunch, it seems like I arrived in town at the wrong time as there was a classic car show/rally this morning and a motorcycle street race tomorrow after I leave.

As my knees have become really painful lately, I decided to have a quiet night and get to bed early.

 

Sunday 21st October

Today I was off early on the West Coast Shuttle bus back to Christchurch, apart from being a lot cheaper, this was a different journey than the train across, this time we went over the mountain instead of through it, it was a pleasant trip and I got back into Christchurch before lunchtime.  At Christchurch’s bus station I decided to take a trip through to Lyttelton on a local bus, it was a trip back in time as the port really hasn’t changed much over the years, the only main difference is the cargo that’s shipped, mainly timber instead of the lamb and wool we used to pick up.  As the old British hotel was closed, I had a coffee then got the bus back to town.

On my return to the hostel, I discovered that many of the group from the original bus group had caught up with me and had arrived in town, as usual, we all met up in the bar after dinner.

Monday 22nd October

Today was spent mainly wandering around town taking photographs and doing some shopping, It’s been interesting visiting Christchurch again after all these years and seeing the remains of the devastation caused by the earthquake in 2011 and how they are slowly rebuilding the city bit by bit. The city is now also famous for its street art so I am enjoying strolling around with my camera finding the best of it.

I downloaded the app for the new electric scooters that have appeared in the city but every one I tried to log onto was out of charge so I was a bit disappointed not to get a chance to try one.

Tuesday 23rd October

Today was a funny day, saying goodbye again to the old gang, after they left on the Stray Bus to head to Auckland and continued travels, after I finished packing for my departure to Fiji, I discovered a Lime Scooter around the corner from the hostel and set off on hot pursuit and had a load of fun whizzing around back to the hostel with it, the time on it took me back to my childhood.

I got picked up by a shuttle bus and headed to the airport for my flight which was fairly uneventful and I arrived safe and well in Nadi Airport, as I hadn’t arranged a shuttle to the hotel, I jumped a taxi driving arriving around 5:30, just in time to get settled and have dinner.

 

Auckland  –  North Island  –  South Island  –  Deep South