Day 24 Queenstown to ParingaTre
Well day dawned nice enough with blue skies and sunshine; a bit chilly though but Queenstown is a ski resort in winter so not unexpected. We left the campsite, which has just opened, a bit of a one man concern as he is running and constructing at the same time. All of the main blocks are converted ship containers, different to say the least! We then made our way to the Kiwi Birdlife Park, probably our only chance to see the native bird of New Zealand so definitely worth a visit. They were holding their 25th anniversary this week so we got a whopping $10 reduction on the ticket price, (ticket prices are pretty expensive over here). It was worth it though as it gave us a chance to see a lot of endangered species, not only the kiwi; NZ unfortunately is leading the world in its species extinction rates due to introduced predators such as stoats, from the UK bought in to control rabbits and Possums from Australia, approx 40 million! They apparently account for eating 20,000 Kiwi chicks per yr. I won't tell you the relatively size of the Kiwi egg to the mother bird but suffice to say it is like a human giving birth to a four yr old child - ouch!!!!!! No photographic evidence of the Kiwi though as not allowed. We also saw the Morepork owl, the Kea, the Tui, the NZ pigeon which is almost twice the size of ours and was an important part of the Maori diet, the Yellow Crowned Paraqueet, the Tuatara, similar to a lizard which has been around from before the dinosaurs and is known as a living fossil and can live up to 200 yrs, the Black Stilt and a Blue Duck.
We had planned to visit the bungee jumping after this, only to observe you understand but by now it had started raining again so decided to give it a miss and set off for Wanaka which was scheduled to be our overnight stop; however when reached this holiday resort by the lake it closely resembled the sea on a rough day with a force 8 gale blowing; not quite the Hurricane hitting Queensland but enough to put us of stopping for long. It was a shame really as it looked a lovely place. The road to Haast across the Mount Aspiring National Park would have had inspirational views and scenery were it not for the rain; the road past Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka was somewhat similar in places to the Amalfi coast but without the traffic. That is the one thing for the South Island, there is virtually nothing on the roads. We took a few photos but with the rain and the low cloud over the mountains I don't think it will do the area justice. After what seemed a long and rather arduous journey in sometimes torrential rain we have parked for the night at a Native Park Motorhome haven called South Westland Salmon; nobody here but us "chickens", not even the owners but such is the nature of some of these places I believe. Another small "backpacker" van did pull in but then left - something we said!!! Still raining but at least we are not in a tent or on a bike like some poor sods we have passed on the road. From reading the guide it seems as though you'd be really lucky to do this route in the dry as the lowland rainforest which is beautifully lush with masses of NZ ferns up to 15ft high in places are there as a result of having upwards of 10ft of rain a year! Making for the glaciers tomorrow but as one of the guide books say it is a 2 hr hike from the village and I've been conned by Bill on that before when walking up to the glacier in France, I think it unlikely we'll be doing that……..