Friday 16th February 2018
We were up and out by 10.00am, saying a fond farewell to our cosy Queenstown cottage (we had been reminded on several occasions that check out time was strictly 10.00am – so we hit it on the spot!) and climbed back into our trusty vehicle for today’s drive to Twizel.
We took an early stop at nearby Arrowtown as this had been suggested by our friends Fran and Andy – a fabulous place, we had wished that we’d found time over the previous days to visit … would highly recommend if you’re ever in this area. A quaint, time stood still place with a great community feel – loved the shops, cafes and particularly the cinema (called Dorothy Browns, which was my Nana’s name) … it’s a tiny cinema and serves cheese and wine as you view.
Had a cup of coffee before we left and were served (eventually) by a young girl with an incredibly deep voice and a plethora of tattoos. A little further on we passed a renowned bungee jumping spot so stopped to view … some 10 years ago we watched as Tom did this very thing off Storm Bridge in South Africa – a heart stopping moment!!
Again, a mixture of weathers today … it didn’t know ‘whether’ to rain or to shine!! Spotted some cows lying down and laughed about how Mum always said this indicated rain …. this led on to other Mum sayings like when it rains with sunshine it’s a Monkey’s Birthday … and of course Mum insisting we wear clean underwear when we go out in case we have an accident!!!
Another rollercoaster day of hills and valleys – real ‘Lord of the Rings’ landscape. Amazing rock formations, cloud formations, waterfalls … made me think of Mrs. Sawyer, my old geography teacher … wished I’d listened more now – though I did get a ‘B’ in my ‘O’ level !
Mid-afternoon we arrived at our very large house in Twizel. Not many people have heard of Twizel – it’s not a renowned stopover town … but we fancied a two night stopover and this enabled us to visit Mount Cook the following day. I kept thinking of that old childhood favourite – Twizzle – the boy puppet with the ability to extend or twizzle his legs and arms (please tell me some of you remember it)!! After a cuppa we headed out to explore the area, a quiet country town, not too much going on – beautiful walks by the river though. Shopped and barbecued and even managed a bit of telly – relaxed in our new home. During the evening we had a ‘German invasion’ – we were sat in the upstairs lounge when a family of four walked in … they too were staying in an airbnb and considered this to be theirs … a phone call later sorted this out … they had chosen the wrong number house … lucky they hadn’t arrived earlier and settled themselves in!!
Saturday 17th February 2018
Woke up to rain … lots of it. Steve and Greg still got up and did their exercising thing – I’m much more of a fairweather exerciser myself. Bacon and eggs for breakfast again and then we set off on our drive to Mount Cook. The clouds were beginning to shift by now and we held out hope of a good view after our 50 minute trip. A beautiful scenic trip as always – stark rugged mountains contrasting with dark greenery and again the lakes turquoise with mineral salts.
Unfortunately it was still bucketing it down when we reached Mount Cook so we started with the Visitor Centre – a fabulous exhibition of climbs and climbers past and present. We even coffee’d to kill more time … but still the Mount was shrouded in cloud. We were able to take a walk up (UP being the operative word!) to a glacier point – a climb + 343 BIG steps worth – but OHHH the view … it was more than worth it.
You could sense the freezing temperatures off the water below and there were still chunks of ice floating – magnificent.
As only could happen to us, on our drive home the sun began to shine … full blue skies, not a cloud … it was tempting to turn back. But we headed back to our big house for a lovely lunch on the balcony instead … with clear mountain views!
And the day wouldn’t have been complete without a wander down to the river too … this time we all jumped in for a swim – fabulous clear water, not warm exactly but refreshing and exhilarating.
After all that exertion, a chilled evening was required. Tomorrow’s journey was to be a long one … we had miscalculated the route when booking – thinking it would be 5-6 hours but in reality it was to be more like 8-9 hours … so an early 7.30am start had been decided. Oh my, life on the open road …. 😉