2006-03 (MARCH, 2006)

Wairarapa International Balloon Fiesta - Wairarapa, Wellington, New Zealand

Night Glow in progressThis weekend Andy, Bob, Holly and myself headed north over the Rimatuka Ranges to Masterton to partake in the Wairarapa International Balloon Fiesta. Unfortunately the weather was pretty atrocious for most of the weekend, so we didn't get to see much of the balloons. The Night Glow event on the Saturday evening went ahead as scheduled and was most impressive. Despite the weather we had a very pleasant weekend in the Wairarapa.

Update: Andy has just reminded me that the main reason that the Saturday was a wash-out was the fact that she had spent the previous night throwing up every hour, on the hour, and that I had spent most of it trying to persuade bits of regurgitated pasta down the plug hole with my finger. Other than that, it was a pleasant weekend in the Wairarapa.

Autumn In Central Otago, New Zealand

Andy had had a long-standing desire to see Central Otago in the Autumn, so Andy, Bob, Holly and I bundled ourselves into our car and headed south. The ferry ride to the South Island was not up to much - the weather was a bit grey and dull. After docking in Picton we drove on down to Christchurch to stay with my Mum & Dad for two nights before heading on to Central Otago. It was fortunate that we chose to break our journey in Christchurch - I was struck down with Andy's stomach bug for most of our stay.

Mount Cook over Lake PukakiFrom Christchurch we headed inland and South via a more scenic, but longer, route than the main highway. The weather was poor to start with but by the time we'd got to Lake Tekapo we had nothing but glorious blue skies. We took a quick look around the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Sheep Dog Monument beside the lake before pressing on to Twizel. The views of Mount Cook over Lake Pukaki were stunning.

Icebergs on Tasman Glacier LakeWe spent two nights in Twizel and spent our full day in the middle exploring the area around Mount Cook village. Andy, Holly & I began with a pleasant hour's walk on the Kea Point Track. We then rejoined Bob for a boat trip out onto the glacial lake at the foot of the Tasman Glacier. Icebergs as big as houses litter the lake and the boat trip takes a tour of these beautiful beasts. The lake is over 200m [660'] deep in places and its temperature varies from 4°C [39°F] on the surface to only a few hundredths of a degree above 0°C [32°F] at the bottom. The lake didn't exist 25 years ago, but now it is 8km [5 miles] long, and growing by the day. New icebergs 'calve' daily - an 80m [260'] section of the glacier crashed into the lake in one night a couple of weeks before our visit!

Tussock-covered plainsMoving on from Twizel we headed for Queenstown, via Wanaka and the Crown Range road. With three full days in the Queenstown we elected to take in nearby Arrowtown; some local wineries; some 'adventure sports'; and a trip up to Glenorchy and Paradise at the head of Lake Wakatipu. Arrowtown was very pretty, if somewhat shabby - the restored Chinese mining village was worth seeing. The wineries were a mixed bag, from the wonderful Mt Difficulty Wines, through the very good Chard Farm Winery, to the decidedly average Gibbston Valley Wines. Our only 'adventure sport' ended up being a blast on the Shotover Jet Boats - I cried off doing a bungy jump due to some wet weather. Our day trip up Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy and Paradise was magic. We managed to coax the Subaru out to the very end of the road, at Chinaman's Bluff, fording several small rivers in the process 🌐.

Moeraki boulders!Our drive back to Christchurch went via the Pig Root road, over the Maniototo Plain, to just north of Dunedin. Once on the coastal highway north our only stop was at the Moeraki boulders. Back in Christchurch we again stayed two nights at my Mum & Dad's before heading for home. The return ferry journey was pleasant. A great little autumnal tour!