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Trip on Christmas 2008
Dunedin – Invercargil – Milford Sound – Queenstown – Dunedin
Day 1
On the first day (Boxing day) we started (of course) later than actually planned. First John took me over side roads (really side roads) to Waitahuna, that is between Lawrence and Milton, and then over gravels roads to Balcutha.

Here is a bridge we have crossed at Lake Mahinerangi (Google maps was very heplfull here :-), it is a Maori name). But in fact the lake is in the middle of nowhere.


The country side is really nice but the roads I had to get use to. Perhaps someone remembers the Tönerweg (the place I grew up) before it got asphalted, that's how many side raods are in NZ just without so many potholes.

After we had passed Balcutha we went on to Owaka. A short distance behind Owaka lived friends of John and we visited them on their farm. We had to eat coockies and drink some tea so it was already 4 pm when we left. I wanted to see a waterfall from which I knew that it is in the Catlins. In the meantime I know, there are 3 waterfalls in that area, but we went only to see the McLean Falls.


The waterfalls are all surrounded by a kind of virgin forest to show how it looked before the farmers cleared all the land and the sheep (40 million, after the lamming more then twice as much, after Christmas it becomes less, lamb taste so good) grassed everything clean so nothing exept grass grows.

Over night we stayed at the beach. Everybody can go to the beach and camp there. The only thing we had to take care of was to close the gates behind us. Otherwise there will be trouble with the farmer who owns the land.
The island you can see is Steward Island.

Here I came in contact with New Zealands plague No. one for the first time, the sandflies, but more about the flies on the New Year trip later. Here were only a few of them, surely blowing to coast from Steward Island.
The next day we got up early and moved on. If the toilette is behind the van and the water is difinitely to cold for a bath (at the East Coast on avarage 5 - 10 °) it is the time for breakfast at McDonalds. But therefore we had to go to Invercargill.
Day 2
After the breakfast at McDonalds (pancake, tasted like cardboard, yuck! Never again) we went on. After John got stopped twice between Invercargill and Riverton because he drove to fast (120 km/h instead of 100 km/h on the country road and 70 km/h instead of 50 km/h in town, fine 120 NZD each time, ca. 60 Euros, and also 250 NZD for not enough RUC, road user charge, our toll for trucks and vans, we have to buy them regularly) we drove on the route 99, alongside the coast. After a short side trip to Lake Monowai and lunch at Manapouri (at the top of the angle), very exclusive, crackers with sour cream for me, I can't remember what John had, we went on to Te Anau and from there towards Milford Sound. From Te Anau to Milford Sound it is round about or even more then 200 km and somewhere on the track, just behind Te Anau, is a sign letting you know "No petrol station for the next 200 km. So if you have not enough petrol or diesel in the tank for at least 400 km you better turn and refuel. And there is really no petrol station, only just before Milford Sound is a Station with an emergency supply for the totally stupid ones. But the track offers many surprises to the visitor. First it is a bit boring. Nearly like our muirlands, bushes (very low like a bit to high grown heather) and sand. But then it started to be come beautiful.................... 

When we had passed Eglington Valley the road went steady up hill towards Homer Pass.

These pictures are taken at the highest point of the pass (945 m). From this point on there is a tunnel, only one lane (1270 m long) and the traffic is controlled by a traffic light. From the tunnel onwards the road is going down hill until we reached sea level at Milford Sound. But what a disappointment, I had expected more.......... and heaps of tourist, mainly Japanese’s, Koreans and Chinese’s followed by Germans and other Europeans........... In reality the sound looks much more unspectaculary than on pictures.

 On our way back we drove to a parking area. I had noticed on the way to the sound that many people stopped there, also coaches. The parking area itself and the near surroundings were not very spectaculary but than........ The entire thing was called ..... Chasm (I don't remember the whole name). I tried to take a photo of the water running over the cliff, at least 10 m deep. Perhaps you can image how it is. There is a bridge right across the point were the water starts fall down and it was hard to get a photo of it.
The road from Te Anau to Milford Sound is on the territory of the National Park Fjordland. Everywhere at the side are parking areas where it is also allowed to camp. But not the way it is known in continental Europe. Here are toilettes (brand Dixie - very simple) but that is all. To stay over night will cost 6 NZD each person. We found a real nice spot. Unfortunately I did not take some picture. My camera could only save a limited amount of photos and I did not want to reduce the solution to much. Our place was right next to the river (Eglington) and I hoped that it would last like that. But in vain, an Italian family took the place right next to us. End of the dream of having a bath in the river the next morning. So we only cleaned our teeth. Careful! Do not swallow the water, sometimes there are germs in the water, so much to the clean nature in New Zealand. This germs can make you real sick, it cause nausea, emesis and diarrhoea with fever, always gladly taken by people who track across the National Parks by foot.

This picture shows a Kea. The tourists like the bird but New Zealanders (and everyone who has a camper van) hate it. This bird loves everything that is made of plastic and it has no problem to remove plastic parts from a car even aerials.
Day 3

After a mini breakfast we started again and stopped quite quickly again. At the Mirror Lakes. The road is right next to the lakes and there is easy access over wooden footbridges. At 8 am in the morning nobody was there and we had the silence and the beauty of the place all for ourselves. The Mirror Lake came into existences when the river had floodwater and the water ran into deeper areas next to the river (the lakes are refilled regularly when the water in the river rise again in spring). I took no picture here too. I just did not want to disturb the silence and calmness with the clicks of the camera. When the first tourist arrived we drove on. After a second copious (Kiwi) breakfast we went on to Queenstown. John already threaded me that we would drive along the whole lake. And we did, from Kingston in the south to Queenstown and from there to Glenorchy. At the end of the lake is a place called Kinloch. Kinloch are a camping area, 3 or 4 houses and a restaurant. And there is something really genius to see. A plan for the settlement of the town with numbered parcels of land. But the problem is, the plan was made far away from Kinloch where nobody knew about the real conditions. So the first 20 to 30 sections of land are on swampland, extremely good when the river to Lake Wakatipu carries floodwater because the sections will be under water than..... 

A restaurant at the end of the world, from here on only back in all other directions are mountains. Of course it is possible to pay the Efpos or credit card here. To insist on cash would be a wee bit difficult here. The next automatic teller is in Queenstown, that's more than an hour drive from here.

From here we drove towards Dunedin, not the way we always take over Cromwell. We took the way via Crown Range Pass to Wanaka. Crown Range is the old access to the valley where Arrowtown (an old gold miner town, really cute) and Queenstown are. The pass is more than 900 m high and the first steep climb is in serpentines and from the distance it looks like the road is fixed with glue to the hillside. At the highest place is a parking area from where you have a magnificent view over the valley.
The next picture is taken after the first climb, just "half high".
In the middle between the both water areas is the runways from Queenstown Airport, I am really glad I don't have to go down there by plane. When the aircrafts lands, they first fly towards Crown Range, then after a turn to the right towards the Remarkables and after another turn right parallel to the mountains down on the runway, right in front of the runway the Shoot Over River and at the end Lake Wakatipu.
About Wanaka is not much to say; it is a place where the New Zealanders spent their holiday. The way back to Dunedin I know fairly well and from Cromwell on it became boring again.
Just to the end of the tour the New Zealand national plant, a fern. The rolled up top is often used as a motive for pendants or souvenirs. For the Maoris it is the sign for eternal live.


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