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This driving tour starts here by picking up a rental car. Dunedin is a pretty town and is close to the seaside which has a really nice beach at St Kilda. Drive up to Mt Cargill for views down over the town and harbour. Climb the highest street in the world, Baldwin Street and get a certificate from the shop at the bottom of the hill, visit Olveston a stately home or go on the Taieri Gorge tourist train trip from the interesting Dunedin Railway station. Go for a drive around the harbour out to Portobello or shop in the Octagon, the main area of the city.
Driving by car to Te Anau from Dunedin takes about half of the day. We had a list of at least three motels for each place of stay and rang them on the way to book in. This was October. On the road around Gore we stopped at a large arts and crafts store practically in the middle of no-where and spent time. We arrived in Te Anau and booked a catamaran cruise and tour ( office opposite the shops) of the glow worm caves at 1pm. This was a rush but we made it.This was interesting and a pleasant but cool ride up Lake Te Anau. The caves are not for those who don't like dark or tight places. We also booked the bus tour out to Milford Sound and the boat cruise on it. There had been an avalanche from an earthquake a week before and we decided to forego the drive of 120km into the sound where there is a large tourist site for the many boats tours. We chose the older replica boat of those that plied the waters many years ago and really enjoyed it. I must say here that the bus does not stop everywhere along the road and on my next visit my husband drove in and we stopped and took many photos along the way. It is one way out and the same road back to Te Anau and so it is practically a day's outing. Te Anua is a pretty little town with a few shops and restaurants. I loved the lake front where the tulips were in flower along the front of the accommodation areas.
Leaving Te Anau after two nights that was needed there, we back tracked to Mossburn and drove north to Kingston on the bottom of Lake Wakatipu. This is a scenic drive a long the lake where you sight the Remarkables (mts) and see Queenstown from a distance. Queenstown is a nice town on the lake and it is possible to go on the boat TSS Earnslaw from Steamer's wharf to Walter Peak Station where you can see a working sheep farm, see a sheep be shorn and learn about sheep farming in this area.. It is possible to have lunch on the patio there overlooking the lake. There is also a piano player on the boat back where you can have a sing along and a drink if you like.
Take the gondola up to Bob's Peak for a great view of the area. There is a restaurant, gift shop there as well. This is an adventure area where people bungy jump, take fast rides up the river or ski.
This town is about a half hour from Queenstown and is a arts and crafts area. It is really only one street but has quaint little buildings and houses and is well kept. Try one of New Zealand's ice creams and catch some sun and people watch.
After three nights in Queenstown we drove via Lake Wanaka which is another skiing area and has a very scenic lake, through Haast Pass and up the west coast to Fox Glacier. The west coast is renown for being wet and it didn't disappoint us. Drizzled all the way. We stayed in Fox Glacier for the night and walked into the glacier area.
Wear good walking shoes here as it is a bit rugged and a bit of a walk. I was told to go to Fox rather than Franz Josef glacier as it is cleaner and closer to walk up to. It was a humbling experience to see this sight.
We left Fox Glacier early as we had a long drive into Christchurch, via Greymouth and Arthur's Pass. This was magical for us as we were surrounded by snow capped mountains throught this area. We stopped in the pass which is really just a shop and a few small cottages and had a toasted sandwich and a cup of coffee.
We stayed in the Apollo Motel in Riverton. Just a few streets behind the motel is Riverton House. This is an interesting insight about a woman who came from England and first lived in a two room house which is still on the property and then went on to establish this large home. Worth the tour. The town is a short drive in but e found a park across from the botanical gardens which has arts and craft shops housed in the buildings on the other side. We walked in to the city centre from there. There you will find duty free shops and the cathedral is worth a visit. If interested or have to spend time waiting for the flight out the Antarctic Centre is opposite the airport.
My first impression of Kaikoura area was the massive kelp slopping back and forth around the coastline and the seals playing around in it. Once I sighted the town, the mountains reminded me of a huge slab of chocolate cake with icing on the top....such a sight. We stopped here on our way north to Nelson via Blenheim the wine area, and Picton on the Marlborough Sound.
Kaikoura was a busy little town and probably due to the tourists heading out on boat tours to see all kinds of sea creatures. There were a few shops to look through and we found a nice place to dine and sit and relax in the main street.
After quickly dropping into one of the Vineyards on the way in Bleinham area we arrived at this small town where the ferry arrives and departs from the North Island. One was in when we arrived and did it overshadow this little town. The Marlborough Sounds are very picturesque and we drove around them on the way to Nelson where stayed for a couple of nights
Nelson is a small but nice little town sitting on Tasman Bay on the north of the South Island. We stayed here for a few nights and drove out to the Abel Tasman National Park and took in the sights around the bay. Basically we unwound here and looked in the shops. Here we caught a plane across to Wellington on the bottom of the North Island, spent 2 days with friends and then flew home.
I would say seeing this most scenic and interesting island is a must and I would go there again. We had no problems, but then we didn't go out much at night as driving and sight seeing during the day does tire one out. We stayed in 2 bedroom motels ( or a bed in the lounge kitchen area and a separate bedroom). We cooked our breakfast each morning and dinner most nights and ate a hearty lunch on the road.
We were two sister in laws and I found that the motels were very tidy had all we required, gave us a bit of time to ourselves with the separate areas and were always near to the sights or town centre. We paid approx. $52 AUS each for our accommodation and I worked the internet to find fairly new or recently renovated properties. In Te Anau, Queenstown, we had a views of the lakes. I must say the I found the New Zealand motel accommodation very reasonable and comfortable.
Do go and have an enjoyable holiday but be aware that it takes time to drive everywhere as it is almost impossible to do over 80kmh as it is a mountainous country with very winding roads. Try counting sheep to sleep!