Looks like Big Sur in California, but it’s New Zealand.
Did the long drive to Wellington. It started raining on the way, sometimes very hard. We stayed at the Novotel on the Terrace, a built-up area over the harbor. It’s in a great location. We returned our rental car (it can’t be taken to the South Island, we have to get another one at the Ferry when we land) then walked around the city a little and took the cable car up to the top of a mountain overlooking the city where there was a botanical garden. We couldn’t see much in the rain but it looked very nice, very hilly and rather like San Francisco. After a drink at a bar on the harbor, we had dinner at our hotel as we couldn’t find any other place to eat. The whole area seems strangely without life. I have no idea where people go for night life.
We left on a ferry today for Picton on the South Island of NZ. We arrived early but found the ferry would be an hour late. It turned out to be two hours late. It was a very pleasant journey when we finally got going passing some fabulous scenery. Arriving at the ferrry station, we picked up our rental car and drove through a beautiful valley into some hills and finally into Westport, and stayed at the River View Lodge with a great view of a wide river. We went into the very boring town of Westport for a good dinner where our waitress happened to be from New Jersey. One of those outdoor, athletic types of which NZ seems to be full. She fell in love with the area and stayed.
It was a long drive to Franz Joseph, a village at the base of a glacier, but a beautiful one. On the way we passed some Big Sur-like ocean views and an interesting area called Pancake Rocks where the sedement had layered into, well, rocks looking like piles of pancakes. There was also a strange little stop with live animals, such as a stag with huge antlers, which also sold a variety of things containing possum meat including possum pie. They possums aresn’t the same type that I’ve seen in Texas but a brush tail variety. There were cranky signs everywhere saying such things as: “Of course it rains alot here-were in a rain forest. We don’t know when it will stop. You’re on vacation-we are working-read the paper for the weather, don’t ask us.” It was a very western, funky place.
When we arrived at Franz Joseph, we made arrangements for a helicopter ride up to the glacier which turned out to be great. We landed on top on a sunny day and the views of the glacier stretched out down an enormous mountain with the river from its melting running into the nearby sea. The surrounding forest is tropical which seems strange but there is a similar one in Chili.
Some wine and a pizza while we watched a rugby match between two NZ teams then to bed early as we are getting up early-again-for another very long drive to the other side of the mountains. We have to circle them as there isn’t a way over. It turns out, as is often the case, that we underestimated the time it would take for all of the driving and we feel like we have spent alot of time in the car. We have been seeing fantastic scenery but won’t have time to see the famous Milford Sound. We needed a few more days.
The Pancake Rocks area.
The glacier metling and running down to the ocean taken from the helicopter.
On top of the glacier. We didn’t even need our coats.
Franz Joseph Glacier seen on the ground from below.