There was a slight change in the weather - a little more overcast - on the morning we drove up the road from Queenstown to Glenorchy, where we had decided we'd have some real relaxation.Although New Zealand hasn't got a big population and, apart from Milford Sound, we hadn't encountered mass tourism we have been constantly 'doing things' since we arrived a month ago.We therefore just wanted a couple of days to chill out, catch up and relax.As we headed further into the mountains and Glenorchy it started to rain.We'd been graced with much better weather than we were entitled to so it was not surprising but quite refreshing to see NZ in a different mood.Glenorchy is a dead end at the head of Lake Wakatipu and is just the sort of place that we love - like a slightly bigger Glenelg in Scotland's Western Highlands.We were lucky to get into our excellent accommodation early at the Mount Earnslaw Motels and took advantage to have a much needed reorganisation of our accumulating belongings.But soon we were out in the improving weather to enjoy a walk on the Glenorchy Wetlands Loop where we sat for ages on numerous enjoying the varied bird life, including a family a black swans and their cygnets.The following morning we slept until 11 am! - the first time in a long, long time we didn't have to get up either to check of a place or for a planned activity.It was lovely!This area has a number of serious walks but with our late rise we were only able to manage to do a three hour walk to the Invincible Gold Mine which was a 500m climb to the remains of a mine from NZ gold rush times.We should now mention that we seem to be turning into a Walter & Netta type couple because we are beginning to take longer to get our stuff together, then when we get going 'have we remembered everything?', then we need to stop to put our jumper on or take our jacket off - and do we need our hat?So it's amazing that we can still do three hour walks in that time.
This area is famous for locations for the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.One particular area called Paradise is a 20 km drive, mainly on gravel roads, from Glenorchy.We tried to find Paradise but as weather was closing in we gave up - so Paradise lost!
Decided to stay one further day here which will make for a longer journey to Franz Josef on Sunday.But this place is so lovely and relaxing, and another night here will save us the hassle of having to pack, find accommodation, and unpack.We woke to a lovely bright day with lots of options for how to spend it - golf (Glenorchy has a 9 hole course at $10 for 18 holes $10 for club hire), numerous walks, or just lazing around.We took the middle option but then had to decide which of the walks to do.The Routeburn Track, which at 33 kms over the Southern Alps is one of NZ's Great Walks, starts near Glenorchy and goes all the way to Te Anau.One of the interesting aspects of this walk is that from the Glenorchy end you can do various short sections allowing anyone a chance to experience part of the route, and we did just that.The scenery was superb and we walked as far as Forge Flat (about 3 hours return) where we had stone skimming competition over the fast flowing river.With time to spare afterwards, and with the weather on our side we then found Paradise.We returned to the route we'd taken the previous day and were treated to the views which had been hidden behind the clouds.
We've now been in NZ for one month and in that time we can honestly say that in all respects NZ is a country well worth visiting.Anyone reading the blog will already know our views on the scenery and landscape.But we should also add how pleasant and friendly the New Zealanders are.They seem so at ease with themselves and their country (and very proud of NZ), have a GSOH and appreciate irony, and they don't seem to have any hang ups about their connections with the UK.All the comments made back in the UK about NZ being a bit backward in our view are misplaced because their food and drink is excellent, houses and architecture modern, stylish and sympathetic to their surroundings.
E M xxx