Day 11 - Time to say Goodbye.... onwards Miss Custard

Queenstown Travel Blog

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- Mount Aspiring National Park

After a whirl wind week in QT, it was time to start making our way back to Christchurch for the flight home, but instead of travelling the same route back as we choose inbound, we decided to think more creatively.  Originally my plans were to leave on the 22nd, leaving only one day to get back, driving east.  However after a seven days of New Zealand at its best, I was gagging for more spectacular scenery before I had to spend my days back in England, looking out the window at flat fields, and that ever present green that covers everything!  So, off we went, one day early, and began heading west instead of east.......  this of course would eventually lead us to the West Coast of the South Island, and we planned to drive all the way along the coast until Greymouth, then cut across the island to make it to Christchurch in time.  What a mission!!!!   (For anyone who knows what the driving is like in NZ, im sure you will apprieciate in retrospect, that this was a fabulous, yet slightly stupid idea!   It basically meant having to spend the next following two days in the car, driving constantly......BUT seeing absolutely awesome sights along the way.) 

Ironically we didnt end up leaving QT until nearly midday.....I just couldnt resist a cooked breakfast from OldManRock, and not surprisingly we had JaggerBomb fuzzy heads in the morning, and my driver was not taking any interest of my 'GET UP!!!' comments earlier in the morning.   So eventually, we made our way out of the QT.....through into Frankton and onwards towards the Crown Range again, to head towards Wanaka and beyond.  At this point we were on route NO. 6 - a stunning drive that takes you north out of Wanaka and directly past Lake Hawea, through Makarora and into the Mount Aspiring National Park and virtually all the way along the west side of the south island.  Now, Im not sure that my writing could ever do justice to the beauty and awe of this place, but I shall try my absolute best.  During the several hours it took to get through this dense terrain, I must have seen more waterfalls, than I saw other people......  Just when you thought it couldnt get any more spectacular, you drove round another bend, and BAM....there was another waterfall before your very eyes, gushing out from the side of the mountains surrounding you.  Magical seems too cheesey a word, but it was truly incredible..... land totally untouched by man, completely raw and harsh yet beautiful at the same time.  It was raining torentially during our drive through Mount Aspiring National Park.... it actually rained the enitre day.  But somehow, the rain just made everything greener.....the rivers more agressive and domineering.  I honesly felt like I had been transported into the depths of an South American Jungle, and doubted on several occasions that our dodgey Nissan Sunny would make it round the tretourous winding roads before us.  Yet, all of a sudden, after the hours of relentless forest covered mountain ranges all the way from QT and Wanaka....the path opened and there was the ocean.  Haast.  

We had to stop at this point, to stretch our legs, to take in the Ocean that we hadnt seen since arriving in NZ a week previously.  Our bellies were grumbling at their neglect and so we stopped at the only resturant we came across, fearing we may not see another for several hours.  I can imagine that small motel gets a regular admission of tired, hungary looking drivers that have no doubt done exactly the same route as we just had......either way Ive never been so gratful of a large icey glass of the ole Diet Coke and some lunch (which was really dinner being mid afternoon already)

As soon as the plates were collected off the table, we were off again; we still had a scary (probably illegal) amount of driving to do if we had any chance of making it far enough up the west coast to enable us to still catch our flight from Christchurch two days later.  Of course at this point, we were actually travelling in the opposite direction from the airport we were travelling from in no less then a day and a half later!

The drive up the west coast brings you through a number of small villages, most of which didnt even have a village shop, just a sprinkling of traditional houses.  In fact the first major cilivisaiton we saw was several hours later at Fox Glacier.  Unfortunately by this point we were once again driving in pitch black darkeness, so we were unable to enjoy the beauty of the place (I have been before a decade ago...and still remeber!).  However we stopped again at this point to re-stock our car supplies (IE Rizla, more diet coke and munchies to keep up the drivers sugar levels!!!!).  I should mention that the rain was still pouring, and funnily my mate ended up falling out of his car door straight into large puddle lol.  Of course if you even step in a puddle, its a bit annoying, ya know your socks are havent got any clean ones etc.  But to actually be laying down in a puddle....well lol I couldnt help but laugh my arse off, and luckily so did he!  We managed to get shelter in the weirdly hi-teck public toilets that actually talk to you (and electronically delegate you two squares of toilet roll!) for a quick change of clothes, yet another cigarette and a warm drink from the village store.   ONWARDS!

Our last and final stretch of the day was from the Glacier region all the way up to Hokitika, a mere 40 minutes short south of Greymouth....our original destination, but after being on the road for 8 odd hours, enough was enough!  We managed to locate a Motel/Caravan site at roughly half nine in the eveing, and were warmly welcomed by a lady who's jaw dropped slightly when we explained we had made it from Qt in this ghastly weather.  She at that point decided to fetch the keys to the Hot Tub room, deciding we were in need of a good soak and left us to our own devices....happy days!  When we finally got into the cabin  we were residing in for the eveing, I  suddenly noticed you could hear the verocious roar of the ocean, only 30m or so away from was a wonderfully safisfying moment, and I was suddenly very sad indeed to be setting my head down for second from last time in Aotearoa.

Finally after the longest day in was time for some shut eye!

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- Mount Aspiring National Park
- Mount Aspiring National Park
photo by: genetravelling