New Zealand Itinerary Days 1 - 6

Day  1: After a rather long and exhausting flight from Europe, we finally arrived in New Zealand. The
            first stop was Christchurch. As the weather was fine, we started exploring the city shortly
            after noon time. The first stop was Cathedral square, where we were lucky enough to meet
            the "Wizard" in full action. As this was the first day (or should I say afternoon) in NZ, we
            didn't do much else than stroll through the city center.

Day  2: Following a first stop at the local Visitor center, we started exploring the city of Christchurch,
            leading us through the Botanical gardens with the Avon river. A visit at the Canterbury museum
            was next, and after a lunch break at the Arts Center, we joined a Tram tour (terribly slow...).
            To finish the afternoon, we took a journey on the Christchurch Gondola to have an overwhelming
            view over the whole area; Lyttelton harbour, Christchurch from above and a great view towards
            the Southern Alps.

Christchurch Cathedral          Christchurch Wizard          Christchurch Gondola

Christchurch River Avon          Christchurch City Tram          View over Lyttelton Harbour

Day  3: Today was the day the trip would really start. Pickup of the camper van during the morning,
            and after the necessary shopping for the next couple of days, we headed towards the
            Southern Alps leaving sunny Christchurch behind us. The chosen route towards
            the West coast was via Arthur's Pass.
            The closer we got to Arthur's Pass however, the more clouds appeared, and after a
            brief stop here in order to see the Punchbowl falls, it really started raining...
            So it really became useless to stay any longer (the forecast wasn't too good) and
            we continued our route towards Westport on the West coast.
            All the way, the rain wouldn't leave us anymore turning driving sometimes to a rather
            dangerous experience.

Canterbury Roads          Southern Alps          Southern Alps lake

One cloud predicting nothing good          Punchbowl falls          Arthur's Pass

Day  4: After a rather rainy visit of the Cape Fowlwind seal colony in the morning, it was
            decided to continue our way down the coast. A first stop was made at Punakaiki
            with it's famous Pancake rocks. After a nice walk to see the rocks, the blowholes
            and the cavern (all this of course in pouring rain), the next stop was Hokitika
            (the whole town was down for an hour due to general power failure) and visits to
            Greenstone and Bone carveries as well as some Glass arts. Unfortunately due to
            the "nice" weather all day long, the sights of the beautiful coastline were restricted
            to a strict minimum and finally, we arrived at Franz Josef, not even being able to see
            any mountains hidden by the clouds.

Punakaiki Pancake rocks     Another view of the Pancake rocks     Our van emerging out of the clouds     The weather wasn't really good...

Day  5: Early in the morning, everything had changed, bright sunshine..., helicopters making
            their way towards the glacier, and of course great views. We decided to first
            see Franz Josef village with the option to do some "helihike". As this was delayed until
            noon time, we optioned for Lake Matheson and finally walked all around this beautiful spot.

Beautiful although a little cloudy     View over Lake Matheson     Beautiful Alps view     Around Lake Matheson     View over the lake

               On our return to the village, the helihike was further delayed to 3.00 pm
               (almost canceled) due to some upcoming clouds, so some time available to explore
               the glacier valley. Some people had been waiting here for a couple of days to see
               the glaciers, and yet again, the weather forecast for the next days was really bad.
               So finally around 3.00 pm we took off for the glacier, and after a nice
               overflow of the whole top, we landed and had about 3 hours to walk the glacier
               (strictly following our guide). A really great adventure...

Franz Josef village     Franz Josef glacier     Franz Josef glacier valley waterfall     Everybody follow the guide     Narrow passage on the glacier

Helicopter landing on the glacier          Walking the glacier          View of the glacier

Day  6: We left Franz Josef in the early morning and shortly after arriving at Fox Glacier,
            guess what... it started raining again and wouldn't stop for the rest of the day.
            As there wasn't much to do, we continued our way to finally arrive in Queenstown,
           with a short off road stop in Jackson Bay (unfortunately either penguins nor seals
            to be seen), all the way over Haast Pass and passing Wanaka.
            This region must really be beautiful in normal weather conditions...

Fox glacier               A closer view of Fox glacier

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