Aoraki (Mount Cook)

3 Feb

Mount Cook (NZ’s highest) and Mount Tasman (second highest) almost free of the clouds that hung around the peaks all day.

Franz Josef Glacier:

What used to be full of ice in the 1940s:

Where it is now:

Fox Glacier:

Mount Cook from Lake Matheson:

View from my motel room isn’t bad:

A mere 15 hours of driving and hiking through the southern Alps today…

Arthur’s Pass

2 Feb

Some people come to New Zealand to walk through the scenery. I came to drive through it.

If you love travelling with your own vehicle, whether car or bike, you might understand how much fun I had with ten hours of twisting roads through great scenery and almost no traffic.

New Zealand is definitely top ten for road-tripping. Bottom end of top ten, but still top ten.

Maybe you’d have to love doing it as much as I do, and to have done it all around the world, to really appreciate how good it is, or just go and do it for yourself if you love driving. The video above is just a couple of minutes in one place out of ten hours and hundreds of miles, but maybe it gives you a taste.

Annoying alignment of windscreen dirt and camera, but great alignment of road and radio (you’ll have to turn it up, it’s just the camera picking up the radio, not a proper audio track).

Click to play, and if the overlay graphic stays on, just touch the screen outside the video. The scenery is much better than a crappy camera can show.

An open road, great views, and a fast-ish car… That’s where I find my heaven.

Arthur’s Pass

2 Feb

Miles of brilliant traffic-free roads through the mountains via Lewis Pass and Arthur’s Pass. Hire car, almost free with Hertz points, is a Toyota Highlander, the LandCruiser’s smaller sibling. With a three and a half litre V6 it’s ideal for the endlessly twisting roads.

At times raining so hard the view is just a rumour.

Mountain cabin at Arthur’s Pass is welcome relief from the rain.

When the rain stops, chance to do some hiking through the mountains and waterfalls.

Someone chose the same hire car and same cabins.

In the evening, more fun on the roads.

Christchurch

2 Feb

Fly to Christchurch (18th flight so far).

Pick up a hire car (6th).

Go to a hotel (24th – has a great sunrise view, above).

Then explore Christchurch, full of charm and character but also really obviously showing the scars and reconstruction efforts following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, most notably at the cathedral but also evident in all the empty spaces where there used to be buildings.