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The Loons
Tranz Scenic

Moeraki Boulers
Penguin Colony

Alpine Vista
Milano Lodge

Cook n with Gas

Air New Zealand

photo library New Zealand - April 2008
album 1 of 7 - South Island (Christchurch to Otago Peninsula)

Christchurch -Tram

Christchurch - River Avon

Christchurch -River Avon

Christchurch - Water Feature

Christchurch - Cathedral

Tranz Alpine Railway

Tranz Alpine Railway

Tranz Alpine Railway

Tranz Alpine Railway

Tranz Alpine Railway

Tranz Alpine Railway

Tranz Alpine Railway

Christchurch - The Loons

Lake Tekapo - At Dusk

Lake Tekapo - Chilly Start

LakeTekapo - Mt. John Obseratory

Lake Pukaki

Lake Aviemore - Hydro

Oamaru - Shags

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki - Boulders

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New Zealand is a country that has been on our agenda to visit since the 1970's. We had in mind to emigrate around 1973, but ended up in Inverness one year later, still a stark contrast to life as we had known it in Birmingham before then!

As this trip was during NZ's autumn season, we decided to commence our holiday at Christchurch and tour the South Island in a clockwise direction taking the Southern Scenic route through Invercargill, then up the west coast to Westport, across to Kaikoura on the east coast, finishing at Blenheim before flying to Napier on the North Island. With higher than average temperatures and sunshine for the time of year, it turned out to be a good call with many dry and fairly sunny days.

During my research and planning for this trip I made good use of the excellent and well structured New Zealand Tourist Board web site and the many links to accommodation and other services that were of interest to me. We flew economy class with New Zealand Air and liked their service,
check-in at all airports was swift and trouble-free, on-board service was good and importantly fairly good leg room.

Christchurch Gondola

Christchurch Gondola

We liked the city, it was busy but not over burdening. The level of traffic, noise and pace of life was noticeably lower than at home making for a more relaxed atmosphere when drinking outside one of the many bars or walking through the central park. The 30 minute or so Christchurch Tram ride of the inner city was well worth taking. The 945m gondola ride taking you 500m above sea level is someway out of town so allow a few hours if taking the bus. The views of Christchurch, Lyttleton and the wide sweeping bay were OK on the day we went

Like many tourists to the area the visit would not be complete without taking the 223.8km Tranz Alpine Railway trip to Greymouth. The route includes 16 tunnels and 5 viaducts and makes for a long day if doing a day trip as we did, especially when incurring delays due to track maintenance as was the case the day we went! I liked the no frills observation car - just like being a child again with my head out of the cab and taking in the full ambience!

Christchurch-Lake Tekapo-Otago Peninsula
We found the route from Christchurch along H1 through Canterbury Plains to be flat and not particularly interesting, mainly farmland with sheep, cattle, large irrigation booms and long high-sided conifer windbreak hedges. In preference to the more established H8, we took the alternative H79 route starting near Timaru through the small quaint town of Geraldine, which had a number of shops selling up market products. From there on until we reached Lake Tekapo, the route was changeable and splendid. The variation of rolling hills with ever changing greenery, trees, forestation and bleakness set against imposing and unusual mountain terrain made an interesting journey.

Lake Tekapo town lacked character compared to others we had seen but the 8km road from H8 outside Lake Tekapo town to the nearby Mt .John Observatory was well worth the deviation. The last 4km of road was fairly steep but the 360 degree panoramic view from the top of the extensive and jagged Southern Alps, Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo were excellent.

The journey along the mainly wide open H8 to Omarama with very little traffic enabled me to take in the Southern Alps views whilst driving and was a real pleasure. H83 from Omarama to Omaru, whilst changeable and scenic was nowhere near as dramatic terrain as the first leg. We stopped off at one of the many hydro electric schemes along the way to take photos at Lake Aviemore before rejoining H1 to Dunedin.

Of the two stopovers we made on the way, the first at Omaru around 3pm to see the Blue Penguins was not successful as they were generally only seen at dusk  The second stopover to view the Moeraki Boulders, some weighing over 4 tons and around 2m in diameter which fascinating as this was a rare natural phenomenon to that part of NZ

Route Distances
Christchurch to Lake Tekapo - 222km
Lake Tekapo to Otago Peninsula - 359km
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