2019 – New Zealand (part 3)

29th March 2019

We left Te Anau in the dark at just after 7:30 and I am so glad we did. The drive towards Milford Sound was magical. The cloud and mist with the rising sun was wonderful. It was cold though and I was glad of my heated vest.

Our first stop was at Mirror Lakes. I have seen reflecting lakes before but this lake, at this time of day, in this light, with that background was absolutely stunning. If the two ducks hander stirred things up a bit it would have been absolutely perfect. The few minutes spent here were one of the highlights of the whole trip. The reflections are real – no photoshop jiggery-pokery here! We had to continue on…….

The run into Milford Sound was spectacular. Some good flowing roads and we pressed on overtaking a number of slower vehicles. It was great to watch as Roger was leading today with me at the back. It was a great time of day to drive this road with the sun now clipping the top of the towering maintains. Very cool.

We made good time to the parking at Milford sound and just had tome for a quick coffee before we walked down to the boat terminal to find our tour. Roger had booked the boat trip months ago so it was good that the company was able to put it back a day. You can’t come to New Zealand and not visit Milford Sound. What a place and what a stunning day to visit. Again I don’t have the words to describe this place so its over to the photos again….

The boat trip was special but as we were doing another double day today we couldn’t linger too long. We had quick bite at the cafe and headed back out of Milford Sound. Again, we drove quickly along this great piece of road back up to Te Anau. These cars are just a joy on these twisty flowing roads.

Back at Te Anau we had to stop to refuel ready for the onward journey. After coffee for Shaun and ice cream for the rest of us we pressed on again – another 115 miles to Invercargill! The roads on this stretch were not the most interesting of the trip but we made good time. We cruised comfortably round about the speed limit and eventually we arrived at the Victoria Railway Hotel in Invercargill. We have officially got ourselves back on schedule. Having planned sensible distances originally we were able to catch up after our storm delay. Well done us!

When we walked out for dinner there were lots of interesting classic American cars parked around the town.

30th March 2019

After breakfast in the hotel we walked the short distance to E Hayes Hardware Store. You might think it strange to visit a hardware store but this particular store houses Burt Munro’s record breaking motorcycle. It is a great story and I would highly recommend the film ‘ The Worlds Fastest Indian’ with Anthony Hopkins portraying Burt.

The shop is a fantastic mix of hardware shop, museum and contents of the E Hayes Motorworks collection. Amongst normal tools you find displays of cars, motorcycles and all sorts of weird and wonderful machines. I could have spent all day there.

We left Invercargill and headed to Bluff. Bluff is not only the oldest continually occupied European settlement in New Zealand but is also at the very south of New Zealand. Of course it has the sign to show for it. We have driven from the very north of North Island to the very south of South Island. We celebrate with coffee before heading back into the mist and the Coast road towards Dunedin.

The first part of this route turned out to be a little uninteresting but the mist gradually burned off to reveal a lovely coastal route. There were some excellent stretches of road but with very little in the way of habitation. Just as we needed somewhere for lunch a really nice cafe appeared in the middle of nowhere, well a tiny place called Niagra (yes it has a falls).

The roads after lunch were great. Lovely flowing tarmac through rolling countryside – the Catlins. Not as dramatic as yesterday but very enjoyable to drive. There were some spectacular views over completely deserted beaches. Florence Hill Lookout was particularly nice and we got some good photographs once we got all the Morgan admirers out of the way.

View photos – lookout BV1 to BV4

We made it to Dunedin tonight. I am now at the furthest possible inhabited town from my home in Sutton Coldfield.

31st March 2019

It was just after 9:00 that we left the Dunedin hotel and headed out in bright sunshine. After a few minutes we climbed away from the city to follow the road North East towards Oamaru. Unfortunately we were soon in cloud and mist that stayed with us most of the way. The roads along this stretch are long and uninteresting but I am hopeful of better things later in the day. We refuelled on the edge of Oamaru then headed into the historic Victorian centre. This is quite a strange town with an odd collection of shops and museums including a steampunk place. We have coffee and a wander about this odd place. At least it does have some character.

We head inland now through to Aviemore and Omarama before stopping at a salmon farm at Wairepo Arm for lunch. Now this is more like it. The scenery is stunning again with vast open views in every direction. Decision time. We can continue on the 40 miles to our hotel or we can take a 70 mile detour to look at Mount Cook. The weather was now clear and sunny and I will probably never have this opportunity again so I voted to go for it. I would have understood if the others had continued on to the hotel but everyone was up for it so we turned left towards Mount Cook.

After a few miles we crested a rise and lake Pukaki came into view. Wow! The colour of the lake contrasting with the landscape and mountains along with the incredible cloud formations and lighting completely blew us away. There was a viewpoint that was just spectacular. The photos are good but do not do this remarkable view justice. What an experience.

We carry on along the shore of the lake before pushing on past soaring mountains on the other side of the valley. The scenery is just unreal. It looks like it has been CGI’d. We feel the occasional drop of rain but I’m not stopping now. We make it to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. We have a cup of tea here looking up at the towering mountains disappearing into the clouds around us. Very nice spot.

That was a long detour but definitely worth the effort. We retrace our steps before turning left back on the Tekapo Twizel Road towards our very smart hotel at Tekapo Lake…….after one last photo stop.

After a slow start, today has been another memorable day. Luck with the weather has contributed again to making this a brilliant day.

1st April 2019

I woke early this morning after a very windy night. It gets light here very quickly and mother nature treated us well again, this time with a lovely sunrise.

After breakfast we set off feeling a bit sad this morning. Today is our last day driving our tour. We filled up the cars for the last time and headed to the Church of the Good Shepherd. What a beautiful spot.

It took a few minutes to clear away all the tourists vying to have their photograph taken not by the famous church but by our cars!

insert 360 photo…

We head out of town for almost an hour when a viewpoint takes our attention again This time though there is a lovely coffee shop adjacent……why not!

The scenery levels out not long after and we are on the highway to Christchurch. In just a couple of hours we arrive at our last hotel. After checking in there is time for a walk to the Botanical gardens for a lovely stroll and a great cup of tea. Christchurch still shows many scars from the devastating 2011 earth quake with a lot of building work going on and many buildings being propped up waiting for attention. We also see the flowers and messages laid out following the tragedy of the Christchurch mosque shootings of just 18 days ago.

We round out our last day touring with our last evening meal together. Thanks for the bubbly Shaun.

2nd April 2019

It was all a bit subdued this morning. We ate breakfast in the hotel before finishing the packing and meeting in the lobby. It was gently raining – which went with the mood as we brought the cars round to the front and loaded up one last time.

The shipping agent’s premises were only about 5 miles away so we made our way through the morning Christchurch traffic and found the place without any difficulty. Well done TomTom. My TomTom Rider along with the myrouteapp.com planning software has served us flawlessly on this trip. Only once can I remember turning round on this whole trip.

We pull the cars into a spotless warehouse and breath a sigh of relief. 3,144 miles or a combined distance of 9,432 miles between us in Morgan 3-wheelers and the only mechanical fault we have had was the zip on my tonneau broke. I am sure that the key to reliability with these little cars is simply to get out there and use them, find the faults, correct them, then just keep on using them. I passed through 34,000 miles in my car on this trip.

It is hugs and hand-shakes all round as well as a quiet sense of achievement. We did it. The planning had paid off and despite our forced pause at Fox Glacier (which only made the trip more eventful) we had made it unscathed to our destination.Well done Roger, Shaun, Libby and well done me!

I had wanted to do a tour on New Zealand for a long time. The country is stunningly beautiful with some incredible roads. I really did enjoy every section of our journey. The journey was made all the better for being able to share the experience with friends. Thanks Roger. Thanks Shaun. Thanks Libby. I did wonder how we would all get along on a long trip such as this but you are all such lovely people that I should not have worried. I have enjoyed every minute of this adventure with you and I really look forward to travelling with you all again.

I have said before that I know I am very lucky to be in a position where I can take on experiences such as this. However, there are a lot of people that could do things like this but never get around to doing it. I would encourage anyone who wants to travel to just start planning. Take that first step and one thing soon leads to another and before long you have a plan for an unforgettable experience such as this. A lot of the fun is in the planning. I have ideas for my next big trip so I will be planning again soon. Watch this space!