So we stopped at Haast for one night. A rather bare site but the loos and showers were good!
We followed the Haast River, south, stopping at various points for photos, mainly Thunder Creek, Fantail Falls and the Blue Pools. All beautiful! Stopped at Makarora for coffee.
We followed the edge of Lake Wanaka and crossed over the mountains and joined Lake Hawea. Again views where stunning.
Stopped for a stroll in Waneka and then picked up the scenic route to Queenstown, following the Cardrona Pass. The mountains were stunning again, almost like cardboard cutouts.
The site in Queenstown is great apart from the fact the vans are very close. On arrival we walked into town. A very busy and touristy town with lots of backpackers and a lot of activities. We went to book up a rafting session suitable for 3-103 year olds! That was the one I favoured, however the girl booking the trip persuaded us that we needed to be more adventurous and we booked for Grade 3-5. Hence a sleepless night.
We were picked up on Friday 8th at 8am, a coach took us into town to book in and then a bus drove us to the rafting centre where we were issued with wet suits, helmets and life jackets. Unfortunately they decided that Ray could not take part as he can't actually swim. Although he was the only one not worried about the activity.
So dressed in wet suits we were transported to the river via Skippers Canyon, one of the roads that campervans are not to be driven along. A single track, once a goldmining track, this was possibly more frightening than the rafting. So we arrive at the edge of the river and are told what to do if we fall in, even more scary.
We were put into groups so 3 young adventurous people were put in a raft with John, Heather and me! Probably not what they would have chosen.
Our guide was called Chief and as we paddled along the river he gave us a variety of instructions. Heather and I seemed to disappear into our life jackets and our helmets slipping lower and lower. We managed several swirls and rapids without falling out and were tossed over rocks. We suddenly realised that they were not the rapids. As we drifted into a calm part of the river we were invited to jump In and swim. The 3 youngsters fell in and I decided to follow. Quite an experience having never tried to swim in a life jacket. Even worse was I could not climb back into the rubber raft. John eventually managed to pull in a giggling dead weight.
Onwards and downwards we tackled the more exciting rapids. Each time having to get down into the dinghy, holding onto our paddles and being tossed up and down and around. The final stretch was travelling through a low tunnel with a real drop of a rapid on exit. We all stayed in the raft and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now Ray needed to have an exciting adventure too. After much dithering due to weather, wind, no wind etc Ray finally completed a paraglide, in tandem from high up in the mountains. We watched him glide down and land adjacent to the camping field.
So on to yesterday, Saturday 9th Feb, we had a lazy day, washed sheets and towels and then walked into town. Where there was a lot of bustle around the war memorial. arch. We discovered that the NZ prime minister was already there and he was waiting for the Prime Minister of Australia. no police, no barriers. She the arrived with a group of security men. Wreaths were laid on the memorial in memory of Gallipoli. All very low key but we saw them both.
Finally, today, Sunday, we have had a coach trip to Milford and then a boat cruise through Milford Sound, the 8th wonder of the world. Amazing, stunning, awesome!
The trip is going far too quick. Keep checking out Facebook for more photos.