My trip around the Sth Island of NZ didn’t get off to a great start with a 2 hour delay at Sydney airport due to spectacular storm. However the view of the lightning strike from my window seat were amazing. The storm soon passed and we were off to Christchurch. I pick up my camper van the following morning and after a briefing on the do’s and don’ts I was off on the long journey to Queenstown. Or so I thought. About an hour down the road my new fancy camper decided to pack it in. The gearbox was not happy and wouldn’t change gears. I was to scared to pull over to the side of the road to check things out for fear that my van wouldn’t get going again. How right I was. I was now stuck on the side of the road waiting for new camper to be dropped off. Three hours later I was on the road again. However I was now never going to make Queenstown as it was about 5:30pm and I had a 5 hour drive in front of me.
As it turned out it was a bit of a blessing as I had a quick flick the through the NZ wildness camping guide by Scott Cook to find a great free camp area on the edge of Lake Tekapo. Unfortunately I did’t have the entire place to myself as a few others had obviously read the camp guide as well. But it was very peaceful with amazing views.
This beautiful lake area is a must see and I would recommend anyone thing this drive to stop over night. The drive from Lake Tekapo down to Queenstown is amazing. Its slow going in a camper van as roads are pretty windy. I finally reach Queenstown and my first thought is how much it reminds me of Lake Como. A beautiful glacier formed lake surrounded by soaring mountains. However, when I was in Como there was no snow on the peaks which made Queenstown spectacular. I just love it here. I spend a couple of nights in Queenstown just hanging out. I tried to get a para gliding flight organised but it was to windy and all flights had been cancelled. I head up the Gondola to check out the views and attack the luge track. A must do for all ages if you are here. Better still if there is a few of you to challenge each other. A couple of luge runs and a few photos and I head back to my camper.
After a couple of days I am ready to find some quietness again so I take off to Glenorchy. I’ve decided to do the jet boat ride on the Dart river over the Shooter as its a longer ride with better views of the mountains. Flying along a river bed in a couple of inches of water in what once was a glacier is mind blowing. The trip winds its way up the river with a new view around every corner.
My campsite for the night is at the far end of town in a dedicated free camp zone that only has a few other people. I find a nice little spot only meters from the waters edge with snow capped mountains as the back drop. Does it get any better. I may have just found my new home base. 🙂
With a couple of boxes ticked, jet boat and luge I still have a paraglide and helicopter flight to sort out. As I make my way back to Queenstown for the trip to Wanaka the weather is just prefect. Crystal clear blue skies and no wind. I call up the paragliding company to see if they are flying and I am in luck.
I head off to the pick up point to meet the team and my pilot, Roland from South Africa. A laid back guy who is as excited as I am to be flying. You would’ve thought it was his first time. A full time para gliding pilot who makes a living flying around the world. Mainly between New Zealand, Cyprus and South Africa.
We arrive at out take off point and after a quick briefing I am suited up or chaired up and ready for take off. We take off with out a hitch and we are soon climbing high above our take off point with the thermal air rising from below and taking us even higher. We reach 1450m which Roland says is his highest flight so far this year. Coming into land he suggests a few manoeuvres and I agree. As you can’t see what he is doing with kite handles from above and you are not sure which way he is going to turn the sudden flip to one side catches you off guard. I was surprised by the
g-force generated as he flips the kite from side to side pulling hard turns making our way to the ground. I even start to feel a bit light headed when we land. Paraglide box ticked…
After my paraglide Its off to Wanaka via Arrowtown. Arrow Town is very busy and a bit tricky to park my mid sized camper van. Its Sunday afternoon and it looks like everyone has decided to head to Arrow Town for lunch. After a quick drive around to scope things out I decide to head straight to Wanaka. Again I can’t believe the views. driving into Wanaka I am greeted by the lake directly ahead with the snow capped mountains in the background. Its mid afternoon with plenty of daylight left and Wanaka is pretty busy so I decide to take a drive out of town. I had towards Diamond lake. With nothing planned I pull out the travel guide and find a local walking track. Its a suggested 3hr walk to the peak and back with amazing views of Lake Wanaka, Mt Aspiring and Treble Cone. Its a pretty tough walk and pretty steep in sections. I like when the book and trail map says its difficult and it is. 🙂 I head up and back in about two hours as I am trying to get back to camp for sunset. I get a little enthusiastic on the way down start a little jog. By the time I get to the bottom my quads are screaming. Downhill running will get you overtime.
More to follow soon.