Gosh it’s hot! After Tasmania and NZ 25 degrees is roasting. Our travel agent booked us into the casino hotel, lots of poker going on here James. The area is called Pyrmont, pronounced Piermont, so our taxi driver at the airport had no idea where I meant.
It’s an area full of cafes and museum attractions. We walked to the Hyde Park Barracks, a convict built convict barracks, now a museum telling the stories of the men who lived there, followed by the poor, unattached women who came out to be domestic servants after transportation ended. I joked that maybe 3x great grandfather may have helped build it, but checked the dates later and he only spent a few days in Sydney before being sent on to Tasmania.
Hyde Park Barracks
It was criticised for being too grand for convicts, but to see one of the rooms fitted out with 70 hammocks and probably another 50 men sleeping on the floor beneath, it must have been pretty smelly and overcrowded.
The best decision we made after visiting another museum near Circular Quays was to go down to the ferry terminal to find we could get a ferry back to Darling Harbour, the best 12 dollars we have ever spent. A hot, sticky, tiring day.
Will be picking up our car today to begin our road trip around Victoria. It’s bush fire season so we need to keep a watch out. The road was closed a week ago for that very reason.
Well it’s been a great three weeks here. Everything has gone without a hitch. All the motels have been clean, comfortable and welcoming. We are leaving with blue skies and apart from 2 days we have had dry but windy days, the wet ones were spent in a car or in an airport waiting for a flight.
We used our last NZ notes to part pay the hotel bill leaving all the small coins for a snack, which goes on to demonstrate New Zealanders are friendly and obliging, by taking pity on me today when I emptied my purse of all change to find out what we could afford for breakfast at Auckland International. I am sure they gave me the apple for free.
Food portions were enormous which explains their problems with obesity. I ordered a starter of 500 grams of pork ribs with slaw managed only half. The main was 1 kilo. Another time we ordered small fish and chips and it came with 4 pieces of John Dory and enough chips for two, trouble was we ordered 2 small portions. We learnt to order 1 starter for 2 very quickly.
The best food though was the fish at Manganoui, fresh out of the sea.
The scenery is, of course, just spectacular and once you get out of cities the roads are empty and a joy to drive down. With a population of 4.5 million you can understand why people want to live here.
Happy memories. Sad to leave but looking forward to the next part.
Wrote too soon about no hitches. The Air NZ plane went over a nail on the run way and we had to return to the gate for new tires. Very impressed, however, with our only 1 NZ flight, good food too.
Now in Sydney.
Richard wasn’t sure which adventure he should choose for his birthday. Was it river board surfing?
Or Bunjy jumping?
Or jet boat down the Shotover Gorge? Unfortunately that was all cancelled for today after the storm last night. Still the Shotover Gorge was beautiful.
Edith Cavell Bridge
It’s our last night in South Island and I don’t think you could find a more beautiful place. Well worth the visit. It was sad to get back to crowds in Queenstown today.
Yesterday was a rest day so a 12 k drive to the majestic Lake Hawae with lunch at the only hotel there offering good food and a fabulous view was the only priority.
Richard needed a haircut and we were told of a barber called Ellie’s in Wanaka and given directions. We found it eventually. It is called Ali Barbar’s, it’s those vowels again. The haircut was excellent.
Today we drove to Cromwell, as we are getting very close to Queenstown and trying to spin the journey out. Part of Cromwell was drowned when the dam was built but they have reconstructed a few of the older buildings to make an arty, heritage area. Richard found himself a birthday present so he was happy.
A visit to the gold mining museum in the nearby gorge was very informative and reinforced what a hard life it was unless you were one of the lucky ones. We tried panning for gold and although a German visitor found 4 flakes of gold we were both unlucky, so don’t build your hopes up folks.
Leaving McKenzie country the landscape changes as we enter Otago and the Lindis Pass. It’s very unlike anywhere else we have visited because of the colour of the grass which over the summer months turns to gold. In Scotland there would be heather, here tussocks of grass and along the edge of the road lupins, until we reach the highest point. It is said that a farmer’s wife scattered some lupin seed and now it’s invasive. I never thought of it as hardy because mine just gets eaten by slugs.
This area is the scene of the gold rush in the 1860s and it seems incredible that men made it over into the pass in winter. I am going to reread Rose Tremaine’s The Colour to remind myself of the hardships they endured.
As soon as we turned out of the valley we arrived in Bavaria / Switzerland. Lush green grass, vineyards, pretty river and lupins. Lake Wanaka is holiday playground, but I missed the colour of the glacial lakes further north.
Stopping at the Mount Cook lookout, a young Chinese Australian told me that his jaw had dropped so much he feared it was broken. After Lake Tekapo I did not think anything could match it, but this did.
So today we drove 50 miles along the Lake and up into the mountains to the Hermitage Hotel and Sir Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre, where a museum and cinema entertained us with a 3d programme on Mount Cook and the life of Edmund Hilary. An interesting day, with more fantastic views.
Mount Cook in cloud
The blue of the lake is amazing and can best be judged by the canal which takes water to a hydro electric plant.
This area is most like the Canadian Rockies but without the crowds. Every lake is bigger and better than Lake Louise.
The flat road south of Christchurch is lined by hedges of leylendii, I suppose as a windbreak. Fields of grass are watered by huge machines. Where we would see a field with maybe 50 cows, fields of a similar size hold 500 cows. God knows how they move them across the main road to other pasture.
Geraldine is a pretty town, the gardens so pretty that I missed the turn off and we had to backtrack. Within a few miles going west you are in the foothills with yellow broom covering the land, in the dry river beds are clumps of lemon yellow lupins, they grow like a weed. The clouds lifted and we began to see mountains ahead.
Stepping in Fairlie for lunch, most places including pubs were closed so we joined the queue at the bakery for a meat pie and flat white. It was busy but the town seemed to be in the grips of depression.
No photograph can prepare you for the view once you arrive at Lake Tekapo. The colour of the glacial lakes, the blue and pink lupins, everywhere and the snow capped mountains is awe inspiring. There was even a wedding party there and we heard the ceremony over loud speaker. There was another wedding party arriving at the tiny chapel of the Good Shepherd next to the lake.
A little further on we came to the look out for Mount Cook by a larger lake, which was if anything, even more stunning. Tomorrow we aim to travel up to Mount Cook to visit the Edmund Hilary exhibition.