Sunday, January 18, 2009



Breakfast at Misty Peaks is anytime after 8:30 so we sort of sleep in but we know it is raining hard. It is still raining after breakfast and we load the car in the rain. Bidding the Bentleys farewell, we are on the road by 10:00 and it is pouring. We drive ever southward following close to the shore in places and climbing into the foothills in other places. We marvel at the waterfalls coming off the hillsides and the streams and rivers that are now rushing torrents. The Tasman Sea which was so calm and blue yesterday is a rough, muddy, mess today.

We begin our climb up Haast Pass in the rain. The road follows the raging Haast River up to the Gates of Haast. This is yet another one lane bridge crossing over a deep rocky gorge formed by the river. Remember the roads that we described yesterday? They are even more fun in the rain. But, we do not encounter any problems and the little traffic we meet is being as careful as we are so time and the kilometers flow on as we head up the pass. Once again the views are spectacular, but the stopping spots are few. We do manage a few pictures as we start up the mountain; at the Gates of Haast and the Fish Tale Falls in the rain. These are all taken amid swarms of the awful sand flies! Once over the pass, we enter a new climatological zone. The rain ends and the land is noticeably more arid. Instead of Jurassic Park, we are now in a land that reminds us of New Mexico with sand flies!
We drive along the shores of Lake Wanaka and comment on the color of the water, a topaz blue and the arid hills all around. Surprisingly, there is not a single boat, that we see, out on this beautiful lake. Surely someone is fishing it somewhere but we don’t see a boat or any sign of human use of this national treasure. We climb over a saddle in the hills and drop down onto the shores of an equally beautiful Lake Hawea. This lake is just as impressive and we do finally see two boats with fishermen and some campers along a far shore. Fortunately we finally say goodbye to the pests!

The next town of any size is Wanaka and we gas up the car. We are paying from $1.349 to $1.549 for 91 octane gas. That is per liter by the way. That works out to $5.86 a gallon at the higher price.

Heading on south along the "Crown Range" highway between Wanaka and Queenstown is another stunning drive. After a while we reach a view point overlooking a green valley with Queenstown in the distance.

We arrive in Queenstown and check into the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside hotel. Our room faces on a waterfront park and Lake Wakatipu which is as pretty as the ones we saw earlier in the day.

We head out for the pedestrian area of the town, two blocks from our hotel, and find dinner at the HMS Britannia Bar and Grill. This time, while having the same thing again, it was not too much and we both finished off prawns cooked in garlic butter with rice and steamed vegetables. We order a traditional "Spotted Dick" pudding for dessert and call it a day.
Tomorrow, we plan to drive the 582km round trip to Milford Sound. We hope to be on the road by 7:00.

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