We start our second leg having one last brunch with Margaret and Andrew.   After saying our final goodbyes, this we rented a Jucy car and headed towards Central Otago, visit web wine country.   We were off and running, doctor but first a pit stop at the Black Swan Cafe for a flat white.  Heading west on state highway 8, it wasn’t long before we found a lovely park in Lawrence where we had a quick snack and a stretch.  Then it was off to the famous Jimmy’s Pies in Roxburgh.  Some people might say the best pies in New Zealand.  I agree, maybe even in the world.  Hey, I even bought the T-shirt!!!  After filling ourselves with pies we headed to wine country, Cromwell.  We missed the wine tasting but, we did manage to pick a couple local wines (and see large fruit) that found there way back to NYC.  Our final destination for the night was Lake Wanaka.  We stayed at the Altamont Lodge.  It’s little out of the way of town but nice and great for the peace and quiet.  They don’t have a lot of rooms, another plus.  We were running late and missed most places that were open for dinner but we did manage to find the only good pizza in NZ(from what I am told).  The Cow Restaurant.  It was the only place left open(barely).  It is also a little out of the way(off the main road), so do yourself a favor and look for it.  They were kind enough to let us order a pie to go and have a beer while we waited.  Next time we will make it earlier so we can have a proper sit down meal.   The next day we took a small walk around the lake and headed over to Lake Hawea.  This was the beauty spot, perfect for lunch and a bottle of rose.  Even though we really liked Lake Wanaka we might just stay here next time.  Super peaceful and beyond quiet, a real getaway.  The couple hours we were there we only saw four other people.

As we drove down the beautiful Haast Pass highway to our next destination we came across  the Blue Pools.  Insanely blue and gorgeous.   So of course we had to dive in!  But we weren’t the only ones.  We were joined but a couple German tourists.  One of them even took to diving off the side of the mountain!  Another must stop, but be prepared and wear bug spray or you will get eaten alive.  Also if you do go for a dip it is cold and reapply that bug spray when done.   Swimming always makes you hungry so we made a quick stop at Haast for some……………….fish and chips!!!!! Jason tried to get me to eat white bait but I wasn’t biting! We did stop under the  Haast River Bridge to eat and have a Macs beer.    In keeping with our rushed schedule we are so fond of.  We made a few very quick stops before reaching our next sleeping destination, Franz Josef Glacier.  A quick stop at Knight Point, and the Tasman Sea.  We made it to Franz Joseph just in the nick of check in time at the TOP 10 Holiday Park.  This was probably the smallest room we stayed in but all we were going to do is sleep.   We also manage to get in a few beers in town at Speights Landing Bar.  Very touristy, but it is open late, has a huge outdoor patio with a fireplace and the drink prices are good.  The next day was Franz Joseph Glacier!!!  Walking through a rain forest it is hard to imagine you will be next to a glacier.  But, guess what? It’s true!!!  We did make a quick stop at the waterfalls and as you can see we had to jump in.  Although the water was cold(and refreshing) it was no where near as cold as what was coming from the glacier itself.  Talk about ice water!!!

After our fun with Franz, we started towards our next resting spot.    Along the way we pulled off onto Forks Okarito Road to check out the Tasman Sea one last time and found a Kiwi!!!  Not really but we did see the sign!!!  And a really small village of Okarito with a backpackers lodge.  If you really want somewhere to stay that is away from it all, this little village is it.    A little further up the highway we pulled over for some flat whites and beer in Whataroa and found this charming court house.  Next was a stop in Hokitika for what else,  fish and chips!!! We wished we could have stayed here longer it’s a nice little town and a great beach.  Although we kept our stops to just a couple, we managed to get to our final destination, wait for it………just in time for check in!!!.  Arthur’s Chalet  was one of the best places we stayed at. We got in just in time to have a beer at the bar and then take to our room and drink a couple we bought in Whataroa.  It’s an old-school lodge/chalet, which I love.  Complete with fire place, lots of wood beams, a bar and squeaky floors.  Plus they serve breakfast for free!!!  Only place in Arthurs Pass.   Also a good thing to remember is they actually close from 11-2 in the afternoon.  The owner has great advice on what to do if you aren’t sure or like us just passing through.   First stop of the day was the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall,  truly amazing.  Just when you think you’ve seen enough waterfalls you come across probably the most spectacular one yet.  The pictures really don’t do it justice.  By now we were hungry and needed to get on our way.  We made a quick pit stop at Arthur’s Pass Store and Cafe for a flat white and a chicken, brie with cranberries pie, yum!.  As we left Arthurs Pass our hostess told us of one other place for us to visit, Cave Stream.  It is exactly what it says.  It is a stream(albeit a very strong one, almost a small river) that runs through a cave.  Well, the water carved out a cave would be more accurate.   And, you can walk from one end to the other!!!  Luckily there were two nice guys who had a little glossed look about them but had just finished the walk and let us know what we were in for.  So with our swim trunks/toggs(New Zealand speak) head lamp, shoes and our hoodies we headed out to take on Cave Stream.  Boy were we glad we were warned!  At one point, probably half way through we looked at each other and thought our we lost? did we take a wrong turn? how much longer do we have? We aren’t in Disneyland anymore.   It definitely was an adventure.  Time went out the window and you wonder why you were there.  But, as we kept pushing forward we enjoyed the magnificence of where we were.  We finally reached the end at about an hour and some change.  Delighted to be out in the world again, we realized why those to nice guys had that glazed look on their faces.  We felt like they did, not sure what just happened and almost like an alien landing on earth.  I know this sounds like it wasn’t much fun but,  I would have done it again in a heart beat!  Next time with two head lamps and a water proof camera that had night vision, if it’s possible.  It truly is something you will probably never experience anywhere else and is a must, if you have the chance.

Our final destination before we head off to Fiji is Christchurch.  We arrived at the YMCA and first thing we did was laundry!!  After four days on the road, it was needed.   With clean clothes and freshly showered we headed out for dinner.  We ended up at Pegasus Arms which is a pub with live bands.  So what do you think we ordered? What else?  Fish and chips!  After a few beers and food we tried to find our friend Robins house but had no luck.  We did find Cruz bar.  Unfortunately no one else did.  After a few drinks we decided walk around for a little bit before finding something else and when we did, it was too late, so we went back to the Y and call it a night.  Not the best night we’ve had, but we did find the Pallet Pavilion which is this amazing art/music space and see some of the damage that the 2011 earthquake did.   The next morning we went to see more of the wreckage and it was heartbreaking.  Picture the downtown of the city you live in, in ruins.  This once vibrant area was fenced off.  It is now known as the red zone.  Even though this tragedy has destroyed many historical buildings and homes, it has not destroyed the people of Christchurch.  They are bright eyed and optimistic about their future.  We saw that in the warm smiles and friendliness we encountered everywhere we went.  Also the rebuilding that’s going on, like the Pallet Pavilion and the Shipping Container Mall that’s part of the Re:Start project going in the city.  With a few souvenirs from the mall, we took our Jucy car to it’s new home.   The airport.  We were very lucky to be in Christchurch on that weekend as it was the 3rd year anniversary of the quake.  We got to witness something extraordinary.  At precisely 12:51pm we all stopped to take a moment of silence to remember.  Of all the wonderful amazing things we encountered, waterfalls, beaches, glaciers, boulders, this was truly something special.  You might think this would be a little bit of a downer but quite the opposite.  To see every one stop what they were doing and just be silent and remember, was one of the most beautiful experiences that we were lucky enough to be part of.



* There are so many tragedies and reasons to give to charities that it can be quite daunting. With hurricanes, tornado’s, I could go on for days.  But when a city 3 years later is still having earthquakes almost daily such as Christchurch, and to see it personally, you can’t help but want to, help.  I don’t ask for favors like this and I’m not asking for you to give anything except your thoughts and if you pray then your prayers.  The earthquakes right now are small but they could get worse or they could stop, no one knows and that’s scary.  Growing up in earthquake country you know what it’s like and it’s quite frightening.  My heart goes out to the these wonderful people and I hope they get some peace soon, if not today.  Like I said we are not asking for money but if the spirit moves you, here is where you can donate.  Thank you.

Earthquake donations http://www.ccc.govt.nz/homeliving/civildefence/chchearthquake/earthquakedonations.aspx