Fox Glacier to Blenheim via Westport

After seeing the icy Fox Glacier, we headed up to Franz Joseph.  By now the hunger pains were setting in so time for a lunch stop.  The idea being lunch then back to the Franz Joesph Glacier.   We had missed the turnoff to Lake Matheson where we had planned lunch at the cafe.   Instead, we stopped as soon as we arrived in Franz, having a look at a lovely place called Blue Ice.  Not only was the service personal and friendly, prices were very good and the food itself was superb!  Top is the Seafood Chowder which I enjoyed immensely, below a burger meal.  Highly recommend taking the time to stop at this restaurant and bar.  If you’re coming from Hokitika, you will find this restaurant on the Southside of town, after driving through the main Franz Joesph township.

This little lookout at Franz Joesph was a short sharp hill walk from the carpark.   Franz is further back than Fox Glacier, so you have to do a lot of walking here to see the Glacier itself.  As we did not have the time today, a short walk to this lookout was all we could fit in.  A nice way to wear off the calories from that superb Blue Ice lunch.

Back on the road, we made a couple of brief stops for fuel etc as we headed towards our next destination.  Below are a couple of shots along the way.  Firstly one of the many lakes we had seen today, secondly, the iconic road road bridge near Hokitika.   A new bridge is being built next to it, so in a couple of year s traffiic probably won’t use this singe lane bridge.

Hokitika was a fuel stop for us and Greymouth we drove through.   Our main aim this afternoon was to stop at the Pancake Roacks at Punakiki.  This meant heading to Westport when we left Greymouth instead of towards Blenheim.

Punakiki is short distance from Westport and well worth stopping for.  A circuit walkway has been set up throughout the area so you can view the rocks and blowholes from many angles.   Today the rough West Coast sea was fairly calm which meant we didn’t see the water rising up high through the blowholes.  However, the incredible power of nature was very evident here.  We even found the island where seagulls live!

The West Coast of New Zealand is a incredible experience.  Rugged, natural, remote, rough yet beautiful.We took the trip from Queenstown to Westport in a day.   To see everything properly, we should have taken at least two, if not three days, however we did not have the time on this occasion.

Our stop off in Westport for the night was brief, but comfortable in a roomy motel unit at Westport Motels on the Esplanade.  Very easy to find as it was the first road on the left over the bridge.  After a quick unpack, we took a brief drive through Westport before eventually settling on the The Quarry restaurant and bar for dinner.  Lovely big meals. in a nice relaxed setting. If you are in Westport check this place out. The great down to earth West Coast service made for a nice relaxed evening.

After a well deserved sleep, we set off early in the morning heading for Blenheim.  Passing through the Buller Gorge, we saw some interesting sights, below are a few photos to show what we saw.

On a cloudy day, the Buller Gorge was today very moody.The iconic Hawks Crag is an interesting piece of one way road.    

We stopped in Murchison for a. very hearty warming breakfast.  Now thats quite an omlette, full to the brim with goodness. Well worth stopping at Beechwoods Cafe  Murchison.

The landscape started to change again as we headed towards our last roadside stop before Blenheim.Last stop, Lake Rotoiti.  We could not have visited on a better day, with the lake mirroring the towering mountains in the background.  Beautiful clear waters enhanced by the clear rays of sunlight.

Enjoy the atmosphere of these photos, I hope they have given you an insight into the spectacular ever changing scenery of New Zeal Zea  South. Is Is.  Next week, I will complete the blog of Marlborough area before we leave NZ until the next visit.   Take the time, visit here, its well worth it.

Nelson Area – New Zealand

Our drive to Nelson was via the Wairau Valley, with a visit to Saint Arnaud.  Near St Arnaud, lies the Rainbow Skified.  As we rounded a corner towards St Arnaud, it was very fitting to see a Rainbow over the its namesake Skifield!

You can’t drive this way through to the province of Nelson, without a stop at Lake Rotoiti which is only a mere few kilometres past the turnoff to Nelson.   Right in the township of St Arnaud is the entry to the Lake.  Very popular in the summer, with the area offering  incredible photo opportunities at any time of the year.

Today the wind cut right through to the bone marrow, even with layers of clothing.  Only the residents seem unperturbed, but then I guess if you’re a somewhat portly duck with a thick coat of feathers, who has become accustomed to the weather, it probably isn’t an issue.There was no shortage of ducks and drakes with a sprinkling of swans.   All so used to interacting with humans, they didn’t bother to get out of your way.   Obviously so well fed, there were no demands for food, although I’m sure if food was offered to any of this lot, it would be consumed forthwith.

We stopped off for a warming cuppa at the servo in St Arnaud.  Elaine’s Cafe was warm and well sheltered from the bitter wind.   I’m sure those outdoor tables would be very inviting in the summer, this time however, we barely noted them, scurrying past to enter the warm building.Aaah, so much better!   Our sneaky morning tea was simply delicious, and did I mention warming? ??   Down to earth service, hot, hot drinks, delicious food,  and the topper for me, tea leaves instead of tea bags.  Well done!

Continuing our drive towards Nelson, we were immensely happy to be encased in a warm vehicle again, having been warmed to the core with the morning tea stopover.  Our next couple of days in Nelson included a nice drive around the area.

First stop, Tahunanui Beach, with sand stretching towards the port and Nelson city providing a backdrop, there is a lot to see around this area.   In the summer this is another popular area, overflowing with tourists and locals alike.   Swimming slides, playgrounds, Natureland, plus the bonus of this fabulous beach.  Tahunanui has plenty for all.   For those wanting a nice stroll and peace & quiet, then winter time seemed to be the time to visit.  Very few people around and still those fabulous views.walk and photo shootAfter a quick walk  and photo shoot, we headed into the city itself, looking for somewhere nice for lunch.  Today’s choice was a neat little venue, Sprig and Fern, in the main city itself.   Here $10 meals were on offer which saw hubby indulging in one of his favourites, bangers & mash.Keep in mind it was winter during our visit, in fact the middle of August.   Therefore you may consider the next decision somewhat strange.  Off to visit Mapua, were informed that this was the place to enjoy an awesome ice cream. Ok why not.  Let’s do it!Loved this ice cream!  As we watched the local ferry battle the outgoing tide whilst returning from Rabbit Island, we consumed these delightful treats from Alberta’s at Mapua Wharf.  Yes I’m cold now, but it was nice!

Mapua is a beautiful area.  Clean, tidy with a delightful wharf, a short little ferry trip over to rabbit island and overall a nice clean part of the Nelson/Tasman province to visit.   We were informed there is a bicycle track which runs from Nelson city through to Rabbit Island. Here the ferry meets you and delivers you in a quick few minutes to Mapua Wharf.  Fabulous idea for those who enjoy their cycling. Keep this in mind cyclists!

Before we returned to base, our local guides took us for a scenic drive through Kaiteriteri and really, Just look at the sand, this tells the story.  Pure gold.last stop was Marahau. Devoid of human life on the foreshore, peaceful, beautiful.  Before this blog closes, watch for the review on a hidden Upper Moutere  Winery- it’s a gem! 

You need to visit these areas, it’s pure, natural, rugged, and there. It’s New Zealand.

Marlborough, New Zealand

World renown for Savignon Blanc, green lip mussels, stunning scenery, crayfish, wineries, and more .  This area is a must visit.Like an oil painting, the canvas of mud flats at Havelock, roll into the distance, providing a different view of one of the Sounds entrances.  Every part of region varies greatly.  Here you will find everything from sandy to gravel rugged beaches, rolling foot hills to mountains, beautiful sounds sea waters to pounding coastal waves, long valley roads to those that wind their way around the hills.   As you round every, corner a new vista awaits.

Travel through the Queen Chalotte Drive from Havelock to Picton, ensuring you allow plenty of time to stop along the way/. You will have to stop to drink in the pure beauty of the area.   As you wind your way through the Drive to Picton, the passing scenery constantly changes from bays to hilltop views, even a sprinkling of paddocks.  To miss this drive would be a shame, it does give you an idea of how the Sounds are  formed.

Crystal blue waters host the yachts and boats moored near the cosy, nestled houses.  Even in the winter the chill, the Sounds look amazing.   Every twist or corner, each bay fills your eyes with new vistas.And so it continues through to the outlook overlooking Picton.  Time this right and you will have photo opportunities with either one or both ferries docked in the Port.Acres upon acres of vineyards occupy Marlborough.  As far as the eye can see, rows of  vines stand proud against their wires.

 And yest, the backdrop behind some of these rows, or their neighbouring paddocks, can be breathtaking, to say the least.The pure diversity of this region is not only in the surrounding areas, but in the produce arising from this area.   

 If you’re a wine buff, time your visit with the annual Wine & Food Festival in February.   Popular with locals and visitors alike, the festival showcases Matlborough and its produce.

Enjoy your visit!