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.

Queenstown and surrounds = New Zealand

We have recently returned from a quick trip to NZ.   You cannot be anything less than impressed with stunning scenery as you fly into the tourist destination of Queenstown.  The rugged mountains, plunging into deep crevasses where clear rivers flow, smoothing the rough rocks to pebbles, lends itself well to the many film backdrops these breath taking landscapes have been used in.Everywhere you look something is happening. Jet boats  thrill their patrons with high powered fun on these crystal waters, skimming sideways over shallow gravel before speeding up the deeper water.  Ride the gondala, to the skyline for a birds eye view over Queenstown.  Up there you will more activities including the luge.  Take the time to drink in this amazing view, with viewing decks and so much to see you will wonder how one can ever describe this portrait. Photos never do it justice.

We had brief drive to Alexandra, stopping along the way to see the sights.  In Arrowtown, mere minutes from Queenstown we stopped in at local bakery for breakfast, eating our delicious purchases with this scenic backdrop, traces of snow still topping the mountains.

Arrowtown is quaint, retaining the look from yesteryear.   This was a quick look for us as time was of the essence, however take the time to look around.  There is much to see in this history soaked township.  

Next stop was the AJ Hackett bungy jump.  Wind your way down the spiralling ramp to the busy activities below.   Should you feel the need to jump off a bridge or whiz down the swing, all the while suspended high over the river, now is your chance.  Personally, I was happy to watch.

The iconic Clyde Dam, a most amazing feat of human engineering.   Here we stopped to marvel in this mass of concrete hydro dam, suspended above Clyde.  This huge dam supplies the north island of New Zealand with power.  Locals are supplied by the Roaring Meg.

Heading back to Queenstown our next stop was the most intriguing Motorsport Park at Cromwell. Here there are go carts, V8s and some very impressive vehicles on show, or take a ride, that option exists too.  You may prefer to take the Jurassic Park bus and look for dinosaurs!  Very cleverly designed, there is much to entertain here.

Stop at the Roaring Meg hydro power scheme.  Fabulous photo opportunity abounds as Meg obligingly roars in the background.

Enjoy your visit here, so much to see, so much do and scenery beyond belief.  Oh and don’t forget the food!  Here you will not go hungry with many eating establishments to cater for all.

You may even be lucky enough to enjoy some wonderful views with your meal. Enjoy!

I’m leaving with this this shot from underwater viewing, directly off the wharf at Queenstown. Yes this is real!  Keep an eye out for the next NZ road trip blog, a lot more to come yet.

Frankton Arms Tavern New Zealand

Stunning scenery is par for the course in Queenstown.  However you cannot deny the breathtaking scenery whilst visiting Frankton Arms Tavern.

A big complex located in Frankton, which is next to Queenstown on Lake Wakitipu.  Staff here were very friendly helpful and looked to enjoy their working environment.


Outside there are some very impressive wooden tables, and again, that view!

We loved the meals here, with all of us agreeing the presentation of the bangers and mash was outstanding.  Take a look at this:


This simple meal was turned into a work of art.  Very impressive.


Meal sizes are extra large.  Take a look at this pizza!   

Highly recommend a visit to this great value venue.  It’s worth a trip to Queenstown to enjoy the meals whilst you soak in this beautiful area.   Enjoy😋

Wellington, New Zealand (including Burger Liquor & Mecure Wellington Abel Tasman)

Stepping off the Interislander, we had now arrived in the North Island of New Zealand.  Welcome to Wellington, Capital of New Zealand.

With the temperature dropping as rain clouds gathered, we had a quick drive through the city to the Le Accor hotel, Mecure Wellington Abel Tasman.   Here we had a suite booked for a very reasonable advance rate. Roomy with a nice sitting area, and access to two bathrooms, it certainly was a very good deal.Unfortunately the restaurant and bar were closed on Sunday nights, however a short stroll brought us to a food court, very close to the hotel.  The area is filled with a myriad of colourful food choices.

Not far below the food court, we came across Burger Liquor.  This was to be tonight’s choice as Hubby loved the menu.

The Double Smokey Burger pictured above was Hubbys final choice. Every morsel was savoured.  Not a burger fan, I was going to settle for fries until the friendly young wait staff pointed out there were ‘In the Buff’ burgers on the menu.  Here the bun is replaced with Lettuce Leaves , encasing all the normal burger ingredients.  Let’s try it!Great idea, loved this Baja Fish in the Buff Burger.  My main reason for not enjoying burgers is just too much bread in the buns, however this meal was filling, tasting and did not feel like you had overloaded on bread. Curlies and the House Poutine were a fitting accompaniment for our burgers.  Most delicious, although the three of us at our table were unable to finish.  Really enjoyed this venue, quite different from the mainstream, with a funky city feel, obviously popular, quick friendly service and great food quality.   Even the condiments were eye catchingly different!

What better way to walk off a meal than a wet evening walk through Wellinton.  We found plenty to look at, with the city putting on quite a show at night time.

Our comfortable sleep was followed with an included breakfast at the hotel restaurant.  Here the full buffet included hot & cold dishes, with juices, tea & coffee.  All the food was fresh and enjoyable.  

Even though this was a very brief overnight stopover with cold winter rain, we enjoyed our quick look at Wellington.  There was no time to visit any of the landmark attractions, however, we did enjoy getting taste of what this city could offer.  Check it out sometime!

Road Trip – New Zealand South Island

So much to catch you up on! Welcome all to 2015. We used the holiday break for a road trip through the lower half of NZ’s South Island. During the next couple of weeks I will catch you up with some awesome places to visit plus review Air New Zealand and the Koru Lounges we used, as well as the rental car company Drive Something Nice, amongst other businesses.

This is merely a brief overview of our trip in the interim, to give you an insight into some of the spectacular areas we saw during our road trip.

Our arrival into Christchurch at midnight, had us staying at the airport hotel Sudima. We picked up the hire car in the morning and drove through to a Invercargill. For us a short 7-8 hour drive, compared to some of the drives we undertake in Australia. There are towns all along the coast road, including the majors, Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin plus many smaller townships along the way. Each has their own attractions and places to stop.

Choose towns or beaches for your stops along the way. New Zealand is different to Australia when it comes to a road trip. Firstly the distances are shorter, which did horrify many of the locals that we would undertake what they considered to be long trips in one day. Secondly, we found a lack of facilities roadside, ie toilets etc. There are rest areas but these are not set up like the Australian ones, which are regularly spaced and complete with facilities. I would therefore recommend stopping in townships for food and toilet breaks.

At the end of the day though, the scenery is most likely one of the main reasons you are here. The scenery throughout NZ is without doubt, nothing short of spectacular. Canterbury Plains out of Christchurch, heading south, have long straights punctuated with tall hedges to break the winds.

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After a few short stops, we chose to stop at the iconic Moeraki Boulders for lunch. A review of the cafe and the boulders has been completed already. This is definitely a place to visit.

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There are many places to explore, sometimes just off the beaten track. Watch out for the road signs, check your maps before you go and be sure to take breaks along the way.

After some time in Invercargill, we drove through to Alexandra, Central Otago, via Gore. Here, the rolling green pastures, change to steep rocky mountains, with pastures drying out along the way.

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Rivers are clear, sparkling, and even in December, snow still lingered on some of the higher mountains. The photo above was taken from the lookout above Alexandra. Even from this height, you can see the clarity of the water in the Clutha river.

There are many places you can go from here, explore Central Otago, head through to the West or East Coasts, or, travel through to Wanaka or Queenstown.

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On this occasion we were travelling to Queenstown. The photo above was taken of Lake Wakatipu as we drove through to Glenorchy, near the opposite end of the lake to Queenstown. Here the scenery is breathtaking.

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These mountains are not called the Remarkable’s without reason. They are truly remarkable.

After leaving Queenstown, we drove through to Christchurch via the lakes district and the Lindis Pass. This took us past the Mount Cook, Aoraki area. Here, on another spectacular day, I was able to take the below shot of Lake Pukaki with Mount Cook in the background.

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You never know in these areas, the expectation of seeing hobbits and orcs traversing the mountain ranges is high 😄.

Take care when travelling the NZ roads, remember to drive on the left, and stay inside your lane. Roads can be narrow and twisting at times. Obey speed signs on the highway, through townships and particularly on corners. If it says 65, then do not go over this speed for that corner. They have have those speeds there for a reason. Drive safe, take care so everyone can return home safely.

Watch out over the next few weeks for reviews and photos of the many areas we visited. There’s plenty to come!!

Just Real Food, Invercargill, New Zealand

This simple name tells exactly what you will receive from this Invercargill cafe/takeaway. Cakes, slices, pastries etc are all baked and prepared on the premises.

If you’re a local, you may have grabbed a bite to eat from here, if you haven’t then you’re missing out. This is where you will find fresh, real food.

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We dropped by for a quick breakfast snack one December Invercargill morning, whilst travelling throughout the South Island. I chose a cheese roll which was deliciously cheesy, soft and very fresh. Hubby chose a wrap, jam packed with scrambled egg, hash brown, bacon, cheese and extras.

The cakes and slices beckoned from the confines of their window, however we just couldn’t fit them in on this occasion. The same applied to these very inviting pastries below.

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Milkshakes, cold drinks and barista style coffees are also available. There are a couple of tables outside if you feel those paper bags filled with goodies, will not make it further than the shop exit.

We couldn’t pack this little shop up and bring it back with us, however check it out if you’re traversing Dee Street in Invercargill, you won’t be disappointed. Home cooked style, fresh, served with local friendly service, real food like this, cannot be passed by.