We left our tacky campsite this morning with heavy clouds still looming overhead. Today was our longest stretch of the trip so far. A whole 330km. In New Zealand that seems twice as far as anywhere else because of the mountains and single roads.
Traveling this country you realize the diversity – the landscape changes constantly,everything, from the vegetation to the mountains to the colour and textures of the beach sand. Maybe that’s why people compare it to South Africa so much.
Very soon after leaving the coast it looked and felt like the Golden Gate Park in the Free State. Big dry mountains on either side with loads of sheep. Vegetation like Karoo bush. We we passing through Otago, the central highlands of the South Island. This is also called Mckenzie country, named after some dodgy Scott called James Mckenzie who found himself with thousands of sheep up in these secluded pastures in 1855. He was arrested, tried and convicted of stealing sheep – to this day apparently no one knows whether he was guilty.
We saw sun for the first time in days today! And yes, that’s snow on the top of the mountains…
After driving about two hours we crossed into the Great Southern Alpine Lakes region. On route we stopped at the lookout in the Roaring Meg Gorge – the water in this area is a particular light blue due to the lime in the rock. It looks pretty unreal.
Pretty soon we drove into the surrounding Gibson valley – this area constitutes the world’s southernmost wine region (about 77 wineries) – the predominant variety mainly Pinot Noir. A beautiful region with high sharp edged mountains and steep cliffs. A similiar look to Franschoek.
Queenstown lies at the foot of the Remarkables (a mountain range that is featured in Lord of the Rings) and is set at the edge of the glacial Lake Wakatipu. It feels very similiar to that of an Alpine ski town – the huge pine trees with the very steep mountains, the ski lifts all around, still some snow at the top – and then the very azure blue lake at the bottom.
We found a dodgy looking campsite right on the lake which is our home for tonight – the only thing is has going for it is its view….and a gorgeous running path which we took advantage of immediately!