Part 3: Dunedin, the East Coast and Mount Cook

We arrived at Dunedin in the early evening but with both our phones dead and the information centre in town closed we could only find a holiday park to camp. They wanted to charge us the same as a hostel in town so we decided to treat ourselves to a comfy bed for the night in the centre of town. We even treated ourselves to a meal out. Crazy! The next morning feeling refreshed after our free hot showers we hit the town to do a bit of shopping as me and Morgan had both broken our sunglasses although it was neither of our faults. After we got a bargain pair of sunnies each we went to Dunedin railway staion. It was a big building with lots of tiles inside, I didn’t find it particularly interesting or exciting. The next place however was very exciting and it was Cadbury World! I was interested to see if it was better than the one back home in Birmingham (it wasn’t) but Morgan was so excited as it was her first ever chocolate factory! Of course we got lots of free chocolate (well not free as you had to pay for a ticket but y’no its chocolate all the same) and a shortened tour as the factory was closed over the holidays.

Afterwards, we went and picked up car up and got more groceries from pak’n’save which was a first time experience for me – it was huge!!! Tunnel Beach was our first stop which was a 20 minute drive outside of Dunedin. It was a very steep descent to the beach but well worth the climb back up. We stopped for lunch with views of the ocean and arch which had been carved out of this soft rock over time. As we were eating people seemed to appearing from out of no where. We couldn’t understand so we explored a bit further and found there is an actual tunnel down through the rocks to a beach below! This was such a lovely sheltered beach with a sleeping seal there too enjoying the sun in peace and quiet.

After this we attempted to find our way out of Dunedin and head north – this sounds a lot easier than it was. We struggled to find the highway again – of course the lack of signs was to blame and not our navigating… We drove for an hour or so before we reached the Moreaki Boulders. These are a typical postcard view and we had a lot of fun taking photos on these boulders. It was quite late in the day which was perfect as the sun was setting and cast awesome shadows across the sand.

We camped at Herbert Forest camp ground that night which was an awesome little spot hidden off the main road.

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The next morning we drove to Omaru and had a look about the town. It was a cute sea side town with a fair bit of interesting history. It was also the sight of my very first U-turn – woo! After a quick mooch in the information centre we drove to Mount Cook. We got side tracked when a brown sign pointed out Maori cave drawings. It was cool as they had obviously survived such a long time.

Now it was getting really hot as we had left the coast and cool breeze. So we made one more detour to a beautiful winery, as I was driving I stuck to real lemonade which was amazingly refreshing!

Before we got to Mount Cook we stopped at the view point where you can see it far out across Lake Pukaki.

The drive from there on is hands down my favourite drive I’ve ever done. With the sun low in the sky, the bright blue turquoise lake to the right and the snow capped mountains ahead it was a dream.

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We headed to the information centre and got told about the best walks to go on in the area and also were informed of the shit weather that was due the following day. To make the most of the awesome evening sunshine we hiked to Tasman glacier and the blue lakes which in fact aren’t blue but green.

The campsite we stayed in was more of a car park but we managed to find a not very stony spot to pitch our tent! The next morning we woke up to grey skies but no rain as of yet so made the most of that and hiked to Sealy Tarn. This involved a lot of steps and was all uphill – glute work out or what! The views were pretty good if a bit grey but that made it seem more mysterious.

As we finished the hike it started to rain so we retreated to the shelter for lunch, during which it really really started to rain. We quickly abandoned our plan to do another hike and spent the afternoon in the only hotels cafe reading and drinking hot drinks. We must of looked like backpackers (ie hungry) in there and probably out of place as a family gave us their leftover oven baked pizza before they left! Eventually we went back to the campsite to cook dinner in the shelter and very hesitantly approached our tent to check if it is surviving the huge amount of rain we were having. It was dry inside! Hurrah!

The next morning we packed up the tent for last time and drove back to Queenstown. We ran into a house on a lorry, honestly only in New Zealand would you see that!

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We had one more adventure to be had as we wanted to do the rope swing at Lake Hayes which is a 10 minute drive from our house. The swing was a lot of fun pretending to be like Tarzan before dropping like a sack of potatoes into the lake.

We dumped our stuff at the house before dropping our hire car at the airport. Our last challenge was to get home from the airport. The bus wanted to charge us an extortionate amount for a 5 minute journey so we hitchhiked instead – another first for me! And then our road trip was over, sadface. It was such a busy 8 days but we had an absolute blast! Can’t wait for my next roadie where I will hopefully be more prepared!

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