DrIviNg aLoNg wEsT CoAsT SoUtH IsLAnD NeW zEaLAnD & tAsMaN SeA

Queenstown is a party town!  I could here people raging in the streets until the wee hours of the morning.    I wanted to go snowboarding today, but the winds were so strong that they closed down most of the ski resorts.  I started off my morning with a suprisingly, amazing breakfast and then up the mountain on the Gondola for an epic view of Queenstown.

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I decided to skip Queenstown today and not wait another day for the wind to die down for snowboarding as I have limited time.  A big bummer, but I was eager to drive up the West Coast of the South Island as I have heard tales of it’s beauty. Today was a perfect day for the drive as the skies were blue!

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I had to make a mountain pass from Queenstown to Wanaka which was icy with many warnings of necessary chains for tires which I had.  I couldn’t believe how beautiful my drive was today. It wasn’t the safest drive, but it was probably one of the most beautiful drives of my life.  All of the pictures you see on this BLOG posting were taken today. I took a lot more then I can post!  Much of the west coast on the South Island is uninhabited.  There are a few small towns with barely any population and some farmland along the way.

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I had to make sure I had enough gas for the wide stretches of my journey today.  I found myself constantly stopping along the highway at these national parks and short hikes to breathtaking waterfalls, creeks, gorges, and beaches.  I passed rivers, lakes, and then drove along the coastline which reminded me of highway one in California. I saw the beautiful Tasman Sea for the first time in my life today!

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I wanted to make the drive to Greymouth, but I only made it to Fox Glacier as I stopped so many times.  I saw lots of camper vans along the way as that is the popular way to travel in this country.  I picked up a French hitchhiker with his ski gear and drove him from Cardrona to Wanaka.  Hitchhiking is very common in New Zealand and is probably the most prominent place in the world to hitchhike.  However, there was one female hitchhiker murdered about five weeks ago.  Her assassin killed himself shortly thereafter and was sick with a mental illness.  I usually pick up hitchhikers as they are loaded with great information and most of the time they are really nice people.

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I am now in a hostal in Glacier Country.  There are three massive glaciers that are close by.  There are various ways to see the glaciers, but most of the hiking tours take time which I don’t have as I want to continue my long drive tomorrow to Christchurch.  There are so many incredible hikes in New Zealand.

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My private room for tonight was $52 New Zealand dollars with a public bathroom and shower.  I could have stayed for $25 New Zealand dollars in a six-bed dormroom, but I wanted some privacy tonight.

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I just got out of the hot tub where I met an Irish couple and an Austrian girl.  They were all savvy travelers.  The Irish couple has been working two hours a day at this hostal for the last two weeks which provides them a free place to stay.  The Austrian girl has been traveling through New Zealand for several weeks and I think this is the first night she has actually paid for an accommodation.  She hitchhikes from place to place and has even found a family that took her in for awhile.  I am giving her a ride up the coast tomorrow.

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I can’t believe how many beautiful places I am hearing about in New Zealand.  I heard story after story of amazing places that I need to visit.  I need to come back here in the Summertime and rent a camper and spend weeks traveling around here.  This country has such rich natural beauty.

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I am eager to see if a large Kea Parrot will be outside the hostal in the morning.  Apparently they are notorious for breaking in cars!   I am not sure what tomorrow will bring or if I can make it to Christchurch to witness the terrible devastation of the recent earthquakes.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

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THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG!!!!   CHEERS!!!!

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