skip to main content

Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

New Zealand Day 9

The Pelennor Fields

The engines roared to life at 06:15 to move us on to Hall Arm where we’d be doing a scenic cruise. I’d gotten up five minutes before to beat the bathroom rush as there were few facilities shared between around seventy-five passengers.

I sat in the saloon, hoping for a good sunrise but there was no colour to the sky this time. Whilst I’d been waiting they’d prepared both a continental and a cooked breakfast - this time I had bacon, sausage, barbecue beans and a hash brown along with a couple of pastries. It was certainly a filling breakfast - just a shame I’d not been able to go out for a run.

Just after I’d gotten my food we were alerted to a pod of dolphins that we’d encountered, so I put my plate down and rushed outside onto the deck. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a photograph of them, but it’d have been nice to have seen them. All I could see were ripples where they were passing us. As there were a few spots of rain, I decided it best to head back inside to my breakfast.

Doubtful Sound

A while later we’d reached the end of the Hall Arm, and at this point they announced they’d be turning the engines and generators off for the next ten minutes. Everyone had to be silent: no moving, no talking, no using cameras. They wanted everyone to hear nothing but nature for this time. I could hear waterfalls, and bird calls - and a guy walking around using his camera. I was sure it lasted far more than ten minutes, though maybe that was just my perception of time.

From there we’d about thirty minutes back to where we’d started from yesterday, and two coaches were there waiting for the group. These took us back across the island to the hut we needed to wait in, sheltered from sand flies, for the catamaran back to the mainland. This was the last we’d see of the Fiordland this trip.

On the mainland we collected our luggage, and hopped onto the waiting coach that took us not to Queenstown, but to Te Anau. We’d got twenty minutes to get some food, but the driver wouldn’t allow us to leave our luggage on the coach so I waited with it whilst James went to get us some more pies. To make this easier I decided it best if I stuck with steak and pepper pie like I’d had on that first visit.

An hour into the drive from Te Anau to Queenstown there was a brief break in Athol for using the facilities of a highway cafe; though I used this as a chance to buy ice cream. Less than an hour later we were dropped off on the road not far from the airport so we could crossover and go looking for the car rentals place.

We couldn’t see it during our hike across the airport, so I used the free Wi-Fi at the terminal to request the airport shuttle. This took around fifteen minutes to arrive, and a further five minutes whilst other people joined us. Fortunately it was only a short drive - we’d passed the place on our way in.

As James’ driving license is Canadian it meant we had to check-in at the desk instead of using one of the automatic machines. We also decided it’d be a good idea to pre-purchase the fuel as they convinced us we’d make a saving. We’d soon see.

The car we’d got was a Toyota Corolla, and was just big enough to fit our suitcases and camera bags safely in the back. I think James was very dubious about us leaving luggage there when doing Mount Cook, but for once I assured him it’d be okay. The boot was secure and wouldn’t be a case of a criminal smashing glass to get at it. As long as we didn’t open the boot whilst there we’d be okay.

Lindis Pass

The drive was over two hours from Queenstown to Twizel, so I’d got plenty of time to get used to the automatic gears. We also stopped a few times for sights, such as the viewpoint for Lindis Pass. This was a place I’d seen nine years ago, but during that trip the coach didn’t stop - and carried on to Omarama. This time we stopped because we wanted to, and then didn’t stop in Omarama. This entire area had been used in filming The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit - the mountains we could see in the distance had been the Misty Mountains.

The motel in Twizel consisted of interesting looking buildings that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Swiss mountain with severe apex roofs. Inside there was a bit of a kitchen - perfect for making breakfast, a downstairs bedroom I took, and then a bedroom upstairs with three beds. Plenty of space for James to use.


Since the motel wasn’t doing breakfast whilst the owner was away, we needed to get breakfast and lunch from the supermarket, and get it stored in the fridge before going for our evening meal. By the time we were seated at Poppie’s Cafe, and had food in front of us it was 20:00. The only thing on the menu I liked was the fillet steak - this came with carrots, broccoli, roast potatoes, and some sort of potato puree. It was expensive, but it’s what we’d expected for this area. The Mount Cook village would have been even worse. However, we did get our first glimpse of Mount Cook - something we didn’t have nine years ago.

The sun was now setting on another day - hopefully the morning would bring good enough weather for a helicopter flight.

Tags: new zealand travel trips

Recent Trips

This country split into two by conflict is one which my trip would also be divided into two due to the pandemic. For my first part of the trip I would be there sightseeing as 2021 approaches it's end,…

Twelve years ago, before the age of the smart phone, I visited Berlin at the start of my adventure spanning three European countries. I was younger then, and less experienced at travelling, and with a…

I have to mostly agree with Sir Terry - there are so many bikes in Amsterdam with lanes specifically for them. As long as you're alert it's not a problem. It's so different in some ways from other Eur…

New Zealand
> “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” > > -- J. R. R. Tolkien When I first visited New Zealand it was a very short trip, and a very unsuccessful one. Every s…

A few days spent in Switzerland as 2019 began. I got to see the sights of Geneva and Zurich, and then experienced delay after delay trying to get home: snow, emergency ascents, baggage collection, and…

More Trips…

Recent Races

Leicester Half Marathon 2021
With two more marathons now behind me, was there any chance that a half marathon could be anywhere near what I'd done before the pandemic?…

Therme Manchester Marathon 2021
Last time I did a marathon in Manchester, it was the Greater Manchester Marathon. Now it's got a new name, a new route, new title sponsors, and it's been over 2 years since the last one in which I fai…

The Bun Run and Ramble 2021
One last race before Berlin Marathon, this was a 10K on the Welbeck Estate near Worksop. It certainly didn't go the way I thought it would……

Leicester's Big 10K 2020
My first 10K in over two years - a belated 10K in Leicester that should have taken place in 2020.…

Round Sheffield Run 2021
A multi-stage race around the outskirts of Sheffield, meaning a very hilly course and a very different experience.…

More Running…

© David G. Paul