The South Island: Part 1
Our first week on the South Island is quite literally a whirlwind. We take our little camper-van across the Cook Straight, a journey of some 2 and a half hours. It's one of the more beautiful ferry ride you ever likely to experience. We land in Picton, and head for the wine region of Marlborough, famous for its Sauvignon Blanc wines. We spend a day tasting, exercising our "sophisticated" pallets. We spend one wonderful night in the town of Blenheim where we are being hosted by Rose Batys parents. They offer us a room in their luxury B&B situated on a vineyard. Bums in the butter or what?
Next we head for Kaikoura, famous for whale watching. We use a very slick and professional local company imaginatively called the Kaikoura Whale Watching company and spot not one but two sperm whales. A treat to say the least.
We now head back on ourselves and make or way to the town of Nelson, spend one night there recharging then make our way to the Abel Tasman National Park. To my shame I almost decided to give this place a miss. What a div I would have been. This is possibly one of the most beautiful places we've been too. Only accessible by water taxi we get dropped of the shore of Torrent Bay and complete a day hike to another bay, the name of which quite simply escapes me. The ocean here is a crystal aqua blue colour, the sand golden and the forest a lush green. I now understand why The Guardian rates these beaches as amongst some of the best in the world. We swim, we hike, we tan, swim some more, tan some more, you get the picture.
Now we head further South, along the West Coast of New Zealand and reach the famous Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers. It's mind boggling that within the space of 24 hours you are able to transport yourself from tropical like beaches to alpine mountain terrain, a unique feature of New Zealand. We spend a day in the shadow of Fox Glacier and are taken on a guided tour on the glacier itself by the most intense and serious American I have ever met. He didn't even frown at some of my jokes which is beyond comprehension. That said he did a wonderful job and our glacial experience was fantastic. It's sad to know that nearly all the glaciers in the world are in retreat.
Now we race toward Queenstown with one recharge night in between. Its Sunday by the time we reach this quirky, overpriced touristy town. Our second week is done, and for the first time in two weeks the heavens open, rain pours all day Thankfully we're visiting a local church, Queenstown Vineyard, and are treated to free Latès, sweets and fruit. A fitting end to an immense second week in New Zealand. Next week is going to be just as packed.