Location: Milford Sound, Wanaka, Queenstown and the route to Franz Joseph Glacier – New Zealand South Island
Highlight: Incredible scenery around every corner of the drive
The road trip continued.
We had the longest drive of our trip ahead of us in this section – 4 hours there, 4 hours back.
We parked up overnight in a tiny town called Lumsden which had re-purposed a disused railway as car park for camper vans, with an old steam train to keep us company as we ate our fish and chips in the van, listening to 90’s rock songs on the radio, sipping on Philippino Rhum. We were settling into the camper lifestyle nicely.
The trouble with the camper lifestyle, however, was that your activities require the Rain God to be kind. When he’s in a mood, there’s not much that you can do.
When we finally made our way trawling through the fog to our destination, we couldn’t see more than 6 metres in front of us, which made our visit to Milford Sound rather pointless given it is a vast landscape of fjords and naturally beautiful scenery – sadly, neither were on offer to us when we were there.
We saw tourists fighting through the rain and winds and taking photos of grey nothingness, and decided that we had better things to do and see, so we cut our losses and drove 4 hours back to Queensland.
We were exhausted from all of the driving by the time we got there, but we had enough energy to check out the establishment that we had heard rave reviews from more than 4 different, independent sources – Fergburger.
There was a 30 minute wait from joining the queue to eating our burger which was quite acceptable given the number of customers they were serving.
It was heavenly.
Possibly the best burger I’ve ever had. If anyone does make it to Queensland, do check it out if you like your burgers big, delicious, juicy and meaty.
Queensland itself was a cool place, I’d like to revisit when it’s bustling with the winter skier/snowboarder crowds as it felt to me like a swiss ski resort town, but it had beautiful views out across yet another lake surrounded by mountains. We were tired and I’m afraid that no photos were taken this time.
Back to Wanaka again to rest for the night before continuing our journey west in the morning. We woke up early and got a hike in before we set off west, and took in more of the views which I had seen from 12,000 foot.
For me, the highlight of our trip to the West Coast was the drive from Wanaka. We saw such awesome, diverse landscapes and we felt that anywhere we decided to stop and explore would have been a good place to stop…
… Such as this mysterious forest…:
… and this river…:
… and this lake:
And all of that was just on the route, we hadn’t even arrived at our destination yet – Fox Glacier and then Franz Joseph Glacier.
We had a hiccup one night when we intended to camp by the coast before reaching the Glaciers. We were happily cooking our dinner on the gas stove which came with the vehicle, and about 10 minutes into cooking we realised that we were being bitten to bits by our new mortal enemies – SANDFLIES.
They’re beasts. Slow and easy to kill, but when there is a cloud of them they’re a menace. I’m not sure whether we were a benefit or a hindrance to the greater sandfly population – did the bites that they managed to get on Simon and I outweigh the sheer volume of the scumbags that we killed? I can’t imagine so, we must have killed thousands of them, it must have at least made a dent on their society… hopefully they’ll rethink before a similar attack on us in the future.
The inside of the van’s windscreen was a sandfly graveyard. Any young sandflies would surely have feinted at the sight of the mangled bodies and blood (our blood) all over the windows and upholstery. It was a bloodbath, and there were casualties on both sides.
We couldn’t hack it and we drove to a higher altitude and battened down the hatches, killing the last ones still inside our van which were now frantically trying to flee the killing zone; a final futile attempt to fly through the glass, before being squished to death.
We survived the night, but sadly it wasn’t the last we would hear from the sandflies.
Glaciers and more from our newest winged adversaries are coming up next time!
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Late 20’s Crisis