Arrived home yesterday morning, from the tour of Southern Island of New Zealand.
We covered large parts of the Island throughout the 7 days period. Regretably, we were unable to drive to Milford Sound and certain northern towns due to time constraint. The map below shows our driving route.
For this trip, I opted for the Southern Island over the Northern Island, as the natural landscapes are more impressive. Gazing at majestic snow capped mountains has always been my dream, and thus the high point points will have to be the walk to the glaciers at foot of mountains, and the drive to the mountains near Glenorchy, which is to the north of Queenstown. It has been a pleasant trip. But would I come back again? Perhaps, when I find the urge to trek and climb mountains.
Driving in New Zealand, especially to the small towns is a pleasure. Besides enjoying awesome views, you will bound to encounter countless walking tracks built for the enjoyment of nature lovers and treckers along the routes. These are generally free, well maintained and graded. We walked through the trails to see waterfalls, mountain springs, moss covered forest, blue pools etc. These are exciting activities in the first few days, when the legs and minds are still fresh. But it became tiring and rather mundane affair after a few days, and after one realise that there is nothing much to do throughout the evening. There is no night shopping, dinning or having supper or any activities to immerse oneself other than watching TV or reading books to pass time during the night. Thus, I was glad to stay in Oamaru on the second last day – at least we could watch blue penguins coming from the sea during the night time.
I have wanted to see the Maoris people, and visit their settlements to observe their culture in their native land. However, to my utter dissapointment there was hardly any of them around. No Maori settlement can be found along any of the route I have taken. It seems that there are more of them on the street of Sydney or in the airport than in any of the towns that I came across in New Zealand. According to a noted historian, the Maoris arrived in New Zealand from neighbouring islands in the 13th century, while Captain Cook ‘discovered’ it in the 18th century. They are more closely related to the Polynesian people, who are actually also related to the people of the Malay archipelago. There could be more of them in the Northern Island, and as I understand, the largest concentration of Maoris is found in Auckland.
At the town of Arrowtown (near Queesntown), there is an interesting site of Chinese dwellings being preserved. A few thousand Chinese from Guangdong province, lived there during the gold rush period of the 19th century. The Chinese were highly discriminated and victimised in those days of ‘yellow peril’ threat by the European populations, with high taxations and ban on women and intermarriages. This resulted in few Chinese that remained there. A few became succesful merchant, but majority that remained became market gardeners. Even then, they faced problems selling their produce to the whites. They were even prohibited from employing the Maori women in selling their produce in the market, as there were fears that somehow the Chinese will intermarry with the Maoris women.
Day 3: Stayed in Frank Josef at a Top 10 caravan park. Very basic accomodation with shared kitchen and toilets. The view from the park is terrific though.
Day 3: Fox Glacier. Walking in the pebbled strewn valley to observe the glacier is a treat.
Another view of mountains near Glenorchy. The mountains form part of the Mount Aspiring national park.
Day 4: Driving from Haast in West Coast to the Maneka, we found a trail called the Blue Pool. We were rewarded with this view after half hour of walking.
Day 2: At Arthur pass, we followed a trail for half hour for this view of the water fall