Friday, December 11, 2015

Queenstown - The Adventure Capital of New Zealand : Part-2

 Day-3 : To Khawarau - Arrow Town
Today was a leisurely day as we were scheduled to visit Khawarau bungy jumping and other adventure sport activities, where we would be the spectators for the adventure sports activities rather than the participants. Thereafter we planned to visit Arrow Town museum. The afternoon was kept as a rest time which meant shopping in Queenstown.

We left hotel at around 10.00 a.m. and reached Khawarau bridge in an hour or so. From the observation platform, we saw few youngsters attempting bungy jumping. On the other side was youngsters as well as elderly tourists attempting zip rides. This gave us some motivation to try at least zip rides. Zip rides cost NZ$30 per person and we had to sign an undertaking that we do not suffer from heart problem, back ache and spondylitis. We sat on a zip chair with multiple hooks attached to our waist belt. After 'get, set. ready' call, we zipped down on a cable with a great speed and stopped abruptly just before the end of the rope. After a wait of a minute or so when we were swinging in our chairs, the direction of the ride was automatically reversed.  Now it was time to zip up at a lower speed. We reached the platform and got unhooked. Overall, it was a thrilling experience. 

We left Khawarau for Arrow Town at around noon for visit to Lakes District Museum. There was not much to talk about the museum but the Arrow Town itself appeared quite distinct from other towns we have seen in New Zealand. It looked more like villages in Swiss Alps on Interlaken-Lucerne route. There was some thing different in the architecture of houses here. Even Post Office looks like an heritage house.

We returned to Queenstown in the early afternoon. We had lunch in an Indian restaurant called 'Spice Room'.  Rest of the afternoon was spent in strolling in town centre and doing some shopping. At around 6.00 p.m., we reached out hotel  as we had to pack our baggage for checking out from the hotel the next day early morning.
Road bridge over Khawarau river seen from Bungy Jumping point.

Bungy Jumping point. A girl is getting ready to jump.

A man is suspended over Khawarau river after the bungy jump

The man is being picked up by the crew on the boat.

Tourists on Zip ride over Khawarau river.

View from the bus on way to Arrow Town.

The gold dust collected from a river on display in Arrow Town Museum. Gold mining from the rivers in New Zealand is now banned.

An old piano on display in Arrow Town Museum

An old clock on display in Arrow Town

An old accordion on display in Arrow Town Museum

Arrow Town Post Office just opposite the Museum.

The bird looks like house sparrow but it is not. The bird is called Chaffinch. It is a common sight to see this bird in Queenstown's gardens.

Day-4 : To Wanaka-Fox Glacier
We checked out from the hotel at around 9.00 a.m. and departed for our first destination, Wanaka by bus. The weather was great with blue sky. Our first halt was at Puzzling World, a  house of puzzles. In this house, everything looks puzzling and we try to get scientific answers as to why things are happening weirdly. In fact, most of the things that appears puzzling are optical illusions created by the structure of the house and lay out of the rooms. For example, in a room, we were walking on a 'oscillating' floor by which we were losing balance. So we had to walk holding each others hands. But  I could walk alone slowly without any support with the eyes closed.

Screen shot of google map showing the direction, Queenstown-Wanaka-Fox Glacier.

From Puzzling World, it was a short distance to reach Wanaka town which is at the shore of Wanaka Lake. We got a photo shooting break of 10 minutes on the shore of the Wanaka Lake. Since the sky was, more or  less, clear, we could see snow-clad mountain at the far end of the lake. It is a glacial lake fed by the melting snow from the peaks located in the north side. 

We had lunch in Wanaka town  in an Indian restaurant, 'Spice Room'. Is it not surprising that a town with a permanent population of around 7000, boasts of having an Indian (read Punjabi) restaurant.

The next stage of our bus journey was going to be of 4 hours on a hill road. As is the convention which we have observed in regard to bus journey, the driver would invariably stop the bus every two hours for tourists to visit rest room and if time permits, have a cup of coffee. The rest stop was as anticipated. After about 2 hours of drive, he stopped the bus at Hasat Visitors Centre for wash room break. Hasat is a very small town. In fact, by Indian standard of population, it will be called a hamlet.

From Hasat, the drive was very close to the Tasman Sea shore. The drive was scenic in that on the left side, we had Tasman sea shore, on the right was rain forests with high mountains - something which reminded me of driving in some parts of  Konkan area of Maharashtra  in rainy season. We were just a few kms from Hasat that the weather turned foggy (or misty?). For about 30 minutes, our journey was through fog/mist. The longer day time light facilitated risk free drive as the visibility was not much affected. However, with foggy weather, we  missed a lot of photo opportunities. There were hundreds of water falls on the way joining the streams. By the time, we reached Fox Glacier town around 6.00 p.m., light rains had started and the clouds fully covered the mountains in the vicinity of the town. 

Due to late sunset in the region, our planned schedule was to visit the Fox Glacier first and check in Heartland Hotel on return. But with cloud covering the glacier, there was no point in visiting the Fox Glacier now. It was, therefore, decided to make an attempt to reach the glacier the next day early morning.

We checked in the hotel at 6.30 p.m.  There was no Indian restaurant in Fox Glacier town. So we took continental sit-in dinner in the hotel's restaurant with 4-course menu. Since we men folk enjoy the continental preparation, we were happy for a change. But women-folks. specially vegetarian were not so happy with the main course though they like soup and cheese cake.

Wine yard on way to Wanaka.

View from the bus on way to Wanaka

The house of puzzling world, Wanaka.

Water flows from a giant tap? No, actually water sprinkles through fibre glass pipe.

Wanaka Lake with snow clad mountains in the background.

View from bus of Wanaka Lake.

Zoomed shot of an unidentified snow peak on way to Hasat

Wanaka Lake with snow clad mountain. Photo taken through the window of the bank.

Zoomed shot of an unidentified snow peak on way to Hasat.

Hasat Visitors Centre, a Rest Room stop.

The main street of Fox Glacier Town. On the left is Heartland Hotel where we stayed overnight.

Smoked Salmon with mashed potatoes with Tartar sauce for dinner.

Day-5 : Fox/Josef Glaciers-Greymouth
As we had to postpone the visit to Fox Glacier last evening due to bad weather, it meant that we will have to make up for the lost time by getting up early morning. So, after an early breakfast, we checked out of the hotel at 7.00 p.m. and drove a short distance of about 2 kms from the hotel to reach the gate to the walking tour of Fox Glacier which was about one hour's walk to the tail of the glacier. However when we reached the gate, the authorities had put the notice that due to bad weather at the glacier, no one was permitted beyond the gate. So, we had to be satisfied with watching the glacier from a distance.

The Coach Captain and Guide (in New Zealand, bus drivers are called Coach Captain) took us to Josef Glacier, about 25 kms north of Fox Glacier. From the road end, it is about a hour's  walk to the glacier. However, due to paucity of time at our end ( we had to catch 1.45 p.m. TranzAlpine train at Greymouth to Christchurch), the walk was restricted to 45 minutes. The glacier was covered in the cloud . Luckily, when we were about to return, we could see the glacier as the 'veil' of cloud got removed  over the glacier with a gentle breeze.

The dirt road to reach the walking point (foreground) for Fox Glacier. On the left his stream flowing from melting glacier which is grey. On the right is stream formed for rain water which is light blue.

Zoomed shot of Fox Glacier. It is rare sight to get the picture of glacier with a tree. For glaciers are normally located above the tree line.

Walking towards Josef Glacier, about 25 kms north of Fox Glacier.

Waterfalls on way to Josef Glacier.

Fully oxidised stones in orange colour beautifully contrast with green moss on way to Josef  Glacier

Zoomed shot of Josef Glacier.

The main features of Fox and Joseph Glaciers are that (1) they are the only glaciers in the world which are easily reachable from the road end with 2-3 kms of distance and (2) they are the only glaciers in the world which end in rain forest. The reason is that two glaciers are located in less then 3000m of height from sea level.

From Josef glacier, a drive of about 3 hours 30 minutes brought us to Greymouth railway station. 

1 comment:

Sanchit Kulkarni said...

Wow! Mesmerizing post, I must say! The details about your adventurous journey on each day to different locations in Queenstown, New Zealand make as a good read. Thanks for sharing it with your readers. Travellers like you will benefit a lot out of this post.