Remarkables drive


Stewart Island


Taeiri Gorge


Lake Tekapo

Queenstown to Invercargill, Wednesday February 28, 2018

Oh,  if only we’d had the blue skies yesterday that greeted us today when we started out. Our photos from the Glenorchy drive would have been spectacular, with a royal blue lake reflecting a bright sky. Oh well. And to cap it off, the temperature today climbed into the mid twenties. Bonus.

Today’s spectacular views came when, almost on impulse, we turned off the road south, to follow the signs just out of Queenstown.  The mapped road to the Remarkables Ski Run looked twisty and interesting (left) – and as it turned out, that’s an understatement.
I can’t imagine driving up this road in winter, but I’m told that skiers generally opt for a 4WD bus ride for the 8km climb to the top.

That little side trip probably cost us at least an hour – but was well worth it.

It was a trifle nerve-wracking at times, as the drop off looked precipitous - and the Kiwis seem to have an aversion to the use of Armco, unless it's really, really necessary.
 The bend at right is one of the few sectionss of the road up to the top which had at least a few metres of metal railing.

The drive which followed took us along the water's edge, down to Kingston at the southern end of Lake Wakitipu.  The view back up the Lake towards Queenstown was quite lovely, although the clouds were gathering quickly...:

The road from there to Invercargill was almost an anti-climax, its most noteworthy features being sheep, hedges, green fields,  more sheep and more hedges..

What is is with Kiwis and their apparent love of hedges ? They are everywhere, in varying states of manicure, and not just in suburban gardens or along fence lines. It can’t just be marking the edge of fields, since they are generally accompanied by fences, so it’s either for privacy or windbreaks, or maybe they just like the look of them.
They are everywhere in the fields and alongside the roads, sometimes causing a bit of a visibility problem at rural intersections.

Invercargill itself is a sprawling country town, proud of its Scottish Presbyterian heritage (it has two rather big Presbyterian churches in the centre of town. The hotel’s list of things to see included a very large department store if you’re into shopping (I’m not), a water tower  (impressive as these things go), a soldiers’ memorial (ditto) and an extensive park near the centre of town.

Apparently, locals at the time it was built (1880s) didn't want a plain old water tower in their park (never mind how much it was needed), so the architect suggested camouflaging it as an ornate brick tower, with a cupolo, which won the dissenters over..

On the outside, the town’s Catholic St Mary’s Basilica is a good imitation of an Eastern European church, with its rounded copper dome. The resemblance to a European church was confined to the exterior – although the basilica was closed, we peered through the windows and saw a very austere interior – not at all like the elaborate ornamentation of European churches.

Both ATMs and coffee shops were hard to come by – but we persevered.  The coffee was essential, and we didn't have any NZ currency at all.  We've been managing on a credit card.
Next: The closest I've so far come to the Antarctic