Sunday, 9 November 2014

Day 4: Fox Glacier to Queenstown via Haast Pass and Wanaka 364 km

It is a glorious day for a ride in South Westland.

South Westland and Fiordland have the highest rainfall in New Zealand.
We are blessed today.
The weather maps for today show us that it is the only region of the country that is fine.

We begin with a sumptuous breakfast at the Lake Matheson Cafe.  Again we feel as if we are overseas. The staff are from various countries and they provide marvellous service.  The  mountain view from the cafe deck is beyond description.   We have walked around Lake Matheson -'The Mirror lake' before so we decide to head to the mountains.

After breakfast we adjourn to the Helicopter office and sign up for a flight to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. It is a perfect day for a helicopter ride.  We land on Fox Glacier and are awed by the peace, serenity and magnificence of the mountain scene.

The hosts at Lake Matheson Motel suggested we go toward Gillespies' Beach to the mountain view point. We are glad we follow their advice.  We can see Fox Glacier.
The viewpoint has a poignant memorial to people who were killed in a nearby aeroplane crash in 2010.

We ride south to Paringa and stop for lunch at the Paringa Salmon Farm. We stop here every time we come this way. Good food and a wonderful welcome.

Onwards through the forests to Bruce Bay and Haast,  then  east to Makaroroa over the Main Divide, Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea,  the Crown Range to our southern home in Queenstown.

I have posted lots of photographs to share this magnificent day.

Mt Tasman dominates the mountain scene from Lake Matheson Cafe..

Which mountain is Mt Cook?
Dick will know... he climbed Mt Cook in January 2000.

 Check the gnomon...

Not one of us.

Typical wetlands near Paringa where we stop for our annual salmon lunch and for smoked salmon. Great place for a stop.
The Tasman Sea - pacified today.
The Southern Alps
Roadside mowers at work.

The Haast River lures us eastward.
Until today the Haast Road has been closed from 6pm-10am while major repairs have been done in several places - in particular here at Diana Falls where an massive landslide across the road washed away a vehicle in 2012.
A walk in the forest at the Main Divide.
Along the shores of Lake Wanaka where we encounter rock falls.
Rock falls have been a feature of the last couple of days.
The recent heavy rainfall has caused rock and mud falls on the roads south of Murchison.
It reminds us of the roads in South America.
Along the shores of Lake Hawea

To the summit of the Crown Range road...
 and over the other side.
It would be even more exciting if slow vehicles would refrain from speeding up on the straight roads. This vehicle crept down the hair pin bend section and sped up to 120km/hour on the straights.

We are acutely aware of the high accident rate of rental car drivers in this southern region.
Earlier today we followed a black APEX rental car driver who alternated driving on both the left and right side of the road. When he tried to turn into the Paringa Salmon Farm he overshot the turn and almost ended up in the ditch.

I am glad that my driver is very alert to other road users.

Hair pin bends take us to the Wakatipu basin where...
...the peonies are in bloom and we are at our southern home.
A superb day on the road.

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