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Auckland to Queenstown flight on 14 feb, no dramas. Always a wonderful experience, regardless of the season, landing in this jewel of the south Pacific. We collect the rental car and head out on our scenic experience. First stop, Omarama. On the way we pause to see the idiots bungeeing at AJ Hackett, a look at the Roaring Meg rapids then a night at Omarama.

We’ll be back here in a couple of days, but now we are the road heading to Aoraki-Mount Cook. An interesting drive along State Highway 8, salmon farming at the Ohau Channel between the lakes Ruataniwha and Pukaki.

We speak to one of the fishers trying their luck outside the salmon pens. Not much luck today we are told, but often very good. What an amazing fishing spot in this stunning landscape. On to Ruataniwha, one of NZ’s homes for rowing, a quick look at the rather uninteresting town of Twizel and then to the absolutely stunning turquoise water of lake Pukaki (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/lake-pukaki ). Unbelievable, could spend a day here easily. After a couple of photo stops and a beach walk below Pete’s Lookout we move on from this fantastic spot.

golden grassy edge of Lake Pukaki from near Pete’s lookout.

Lake Pukaki, South Island NZLake Pukaki, South Island NZ
Lake Pukaki, South Island NZLake Pukaki, South Island NZ

Lake Pukaki turquoise water, lakeside scenes

We then get to Mt Cook National Park.  The Hookers Valley floor and Mount Cook range.

Aoraki-Mt Cook, plains and range.( http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/national-parks/aoraki-mount-cook/ ) and take a short (20min each way) walk on the Kea Point TrackAoraki-Mt Cook, plains and range. 


  Common Copper butterfly on the track.

After sunrise shots the next morning we walk the Hooker Valley Track. 4 hours return.

Wonderful walk and photo opps up to the Mueller Lake & Glacier. Tourists by the ton.

Then a evening walk up behind the Hermitage – The Glencoe Walk. Keas are everywhere. Hard to photograph in the time we had with now low light.

Next morning we walk to Tasman Lake and Glacier, icebergs float across the lake. Then untitled (8 of 47)back on the road to Lake Tekapo.

tramper obtains a vantage point for view on way to and Glaciers floating in Tasman Lake.

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Lake Tekapo reflected in famous old stone church window 

South Island (32 of 44) Glider on Omarama airfieldSouth Island (36 of 65) Lake Benmore through the glider canopy.                                                            Cultivated land below.

South Island (38 of 39)Omarama by late afternoon and check back into hotel. First glider flight at 6.00 pm, then 2 more days of soaring followed by visit to the remarkable Clay Cliffs.


Our very own “Bryce Canyon” and a must see. Spectacular.


Heading over the next 2 days to the Catlins we first stop at the historic township of Clyde. A quaint town of old and restored buildings and cafes. Builder and Undertakers stone building in the town.SONY DSC

Then on to Roxburgh, staying along the road a bit in an area called Millers Flats. Our accommodation is a really lovely, if not a bit quirky B&B. Great people.South Island Scenic. (59 of 117)Lovely Millers Flats country pub for dinner.SONY DSC Calm pools along Clutha River

From there the next day to Kaka Point in Catlins driving along the Clutha river by a “back road” stopping to see an historic cottage dating back a 100 or so years, Millers cottage.

Stop for lunch in the Kaka point Pub. Interesting experience. fun and food. Get to the Catlins and into the Newhaven motor camp. bit of a stuff up accommodation wise, but eventually sorted, ensconced and off for a walk along Surat Bay. not long before we come across family of sea lions.SONY DSC

SONY DSC Purakanui Falls

Windswept, scenic rugged coastal features and lighthouses fill the Catlins characteristics.South Island Scenic. (10 of 35)South Island Scenic. (56 of 114)The Catlins Cathedral Caves‘ are one of the thirty longest sea caves in the world,located on Waipati Beach, 15 km south of Papatowai.

SONY DSC The little St Mary’s Anglican Church. Waikawa

SONY DSCThe world’s rarest species of penguin, the Yellow-eyed penguin, can be found at Curio Bay in The Catlins. Above, penguin chicks waiting patiently for their parents to arrive with evening meal.

The Portland.

Deteriorating Portland planking

The Portland.

The veteran flat-bottomed scow “Portland”moored in the Owaka River.

SONY DSCWaipapa Point Lighthouse and the bay to the south.

On to Invercargill. More images at http://www.brianscantlebury.com