A Travellerspoint blog

May 2012

French Pass, Farewell Spit, Collingwood, Fox Glacier, Wanaka

overcast 16 °C

Driving along the straight roads we saw quite a few hitch hikers, stood there holding up their signs patiently waiting for someone to stop.  We drove past two youngish lads and decided we would pick them up as we were travelling 60km their way.  One looked like he had given up and the other one looked like he had just drank four cans of red bull....he was jumping up and down waving his arms.  Later he told me that he does this because people just drive past and they have previously waited 8 hours in the same spot holding their sign.  Imagine that!  Well sod that!  We picked up a few hitchhikers after that and we heard the same story again and again "campervans never stop for us...usually it's a small car and we cram into the back.". Plus it wasn't about if they were dodgy people all they wanted was a lift so they can carry on with their travels.

We picked up two American girls a few times, the same ones, saved them a fortune in travel.  It seems that this is one way to get around in New Zealand if you don't mind waiting.   Im not sure if i could do it...maybe if I was with someone but definitely not on my own.  I think we spent approximately £250 in fuel getting around the south island.....a lot cheaper than UK...but we still had to pay for transport which was quite a chunk - Apollo Campervans .....I wouldn't bother using them or their sister company.....beware!

I wouldn't recommend taking a campervan as you need to hook up to the mains nearly every night it's pointless having toilets and shower facilities in your van because there are good toilets all over the island and all the camp sites have good kitchen and shower facilities....so save some money either hitch hike or rent a car.  Don't bother with the magic bus either, considering the amount of time we spent on the road we only saw the magic bus once and that was in a car park opposite Dominos!  Mind you we didn't use it so who am I to dish out advice on it!

So we are off to the French Pass, I know nothing about it only that its far away and in the opposite direction that we should be going.  Also the final hour and half drive is all on a gravel bendy road wide enough for one vehicle and I was driving a bus.....any collisions i would win!

The road was more of a ledge in places with steep slopes of green fields falling down into the brilliant blue sea where you could see for miles.....or kilometres as it is in NZ.  The views were breath taking, they were honestly the best views I think I have ever seen in my life....I think it was the greenery against the sea, sky and the mountains in the distance.   All different greens and beautiful blues also there were hardly any clouds in the sky.

We finally arrived after a gruelling 3 hour plus drive and spotted our host straight away.  We parked up and were introduced to two lovely families who promptly offered us a beer.  I was abit embarrassed because we tried to shop for some to offer the hosts but being easter all the shops were closed....not like uk with sale after sale, they were shut Friday, open Saturday well some of them and then shut til Tuesday.  So being Friday we were stuffed, luckily we had some food and a bottle of Captain Morgans Spiced Rum that I had bought in the airport for a special occasion....or a stressed out occasion...who cares it tastes good with coke.

So it's now about 7pm and I give out my apologies for not bringing anything to the table but offer up the CMSR....which was welcomed with open arms.  Ron is a New Zealander with an English partner who was already tipsy on the beer, a real character and a lovely guy.  I told him to help him self and with that he picked up his pint glass and filled it to the top with the neat CMSR!!!  My full bottle was nearly empty!!  "Ummm.....can you drink a pint of that neat?" I asked him 
"Hell yeah". Was something like the reply but his partner stepped in and half a pint was put aside.  After that he drank more than half a bottle of Whiskey and disappeared for the night.

I slept like alog but had a bad headache which I think was due to the driving.....not drink....honest ....there wasn't much left after Ron.   We were invited to go out on Rons boat to take us to see some seals in their natural environment....his boat was great a little metal nippy motor and we zipped around the coast line and got quite close to the seals.  Ron explained what the French Pass was and then took us through it.  Its an area of water which is renowned for the dangerous currents from various directions swirling away.  Lots of ships sank there trying to get through, the tide can change as well so you can be sailing one way and it will change direction.  There are pockets of whirlpools that can drag you down and considering all this wold you believe that a few years back about 7 divers decided it would be a good idea to go diving there?  Well they are still down there....didn't make it back up.

Apparently the day we went through was calm but it was still quite a sight to see.  In the afternoon Rod took us out on his boat with his son, Rod and his son told me they like to fish and I said that I wouldn't go out on the boat if they were fishing because....I don't like fish....I have a sort of phobia about them, which I'm trying to get over and I'm doing well....I can go scuba diving and snorkling now but I don't want to be in a boat with one.  Off  we went ....no fishing ....until we got out in the sea and the boy wanted to fish.  So his dad said ok.   I just wanted to swim to the shore....they literally just put the line in the water and the rod was bending and they reeled in this huge silver fish wacking it's tail around trying to get free...it was bloody awful.  Next it was flopping about on the deck with its mouth wide open ....then I thought they would kill it but no.....just to make the suffering a bit longer they threw it into a box and let it flap and bang about until it died about five minutes later.  I absolutely hated every minute of it and couldn't wait to get off the stupid boat.  They fished some more and brought in another big fish so I said "you've got plenty now, please, can you put it back?". Rod turned to his son and said "Vicky  wants us to put this one back".  "No!". Was the reply from the 9 year old and so it didn't go back.  On the way back I saw the boy stamp on the head of the fish.   I don't  understand it and I don't think I ever will.  The others knew I wasn't too impressed with the trip and I understand fishing to eat the fish, but don't let them suffer more....I think I've said enough about it anyway.  

My headache just got worse after that and I couldnt even sit with the group in the evening and went to bed.  The next day we said our thank yous and good byes and left.  We had a good time but the fishing thing.....just not my cup of tea!

Chloe wanted to go to the tip of the south island considering French Pass was the north east point, we were now making out way to the north west point...The Farewell spit via Collingwood.  This was a journey and a half I can tell you....I think it took us about 5 or 6 hours to complete.  The Farewell Spit was just like driving to the end of a beach, where you could look out to sea....nothing compared to the French Pass views.  Collingwood was a very small town which made me think of a Western movie set, these little towns are so quaint it's unreal, hardly any cars, little wooden houses, a couple of shops and that's it!  It had got late so we decided to stay nearby in a campsite run by an Englishman.

He told us to go to a nearby pub which was about 2 kilometres up the road....walking distance.  What a joke ....we walked back and forth in the pitch black because we didn't believe it could be any further than where we had walked.  We tackled blind bends, grass verges with only the moon with light.  I think we spent well over an hour looking for this pub and we gave up.  Because we hadn't eaten we knocked on the managers door;  he had offered us a lift if he was about.  We got into his car and he took us to the pub which we worked out was nearly a two mile walk each way.   Ok in the day but certainly not recommended in the night time!

Driving down the west coast the sky juice (water) began to fall....we were near Greymouth renowned for its liquid sunshine...aka rain.    One other great thing about New Zealand is they have lots of fish and chip shops about and throughout our trip we had promised ourselves that we would stop and have a portion.  So when you order you don't ask for two portions of chips, you say "two scoops please". We took the chips back and we were disappointed they were like frozen chips, but we still ate them..it would be rude not to!

There wasn't much to Greymouth, we had to make a stop to see a plumber about our hot water in the van, lovely guy waited for us at the side of the road outside of his house, he was about 90 years old and as deaf as a door post.  He couldn't fix the problem ...so no hot water it was then.  On the way we picked up our American girl hitch hikers again, they were pleased to see us as we were going to the same place.

We pressed on further south and the further we went the colder it got.  We wanted to go to the glaciers so made our way to Fox Glacier.  Arriving we decided to book a trip for the next day, unfortunately it was full.  We could see the mountain from our site and it looked beautiful, it must look amazing in the winter with the snow about.  

We passed though Wanaka, we were going to stay there because so many people said "go to Wanaka don't stay in Queenstown because it's soo built up.".  We had a walk around Wanaka and it was tiny with a beautiful lake next to it again it would look fantastic in the winter time with the snow top mountains surrounding it.  We went into subway to get a roll as I was starving, it was soo disappointing, there was rubbish everywhere and one English girl serving on the counter, I couldn't help think that maybe she was there only to ski and not being able to in the autumn.....she could work in subway.   She didn't seem happy though but what a lucky girl she is.....living and working in New Zealand....somewhat if it's subway.

I couldn't see the pull of Wanaka so I made a decision....we would go to Queenstown.....now!

Posted by Vicky Bailey 04:48 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountains lakes travel new zealand wanaka journey mother_daughter blog farewell_spit world_trip collingwood back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing camper_van french_pass fox_glacia Comments (0)

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