The last place I described was Harihari on ANZAC day.
The next few days after that, we did some exploration of the Lakes to the North of our bush hideaway at Pukekura. Lake Mahinapua, Lake Kaniere and Lake Brunner all offered their own brand of magic. Moody grey weather was the norm, but vitally, there was no wind, especially in the first half of each day.
The first lake you come to North of the town of Ross is Lake Mahinapua. I have been there before, and was not much impressed, but perhaps that was because a nasty breeze spoiled the surface of the lake in its stillness. This time we got lucky and it was glassy calm, if somewhat bleak and chilly.
Lake Kaniere (above) was just breathtaking in its beauty. I got lucky in that I arrived moments before someone in a power boat went racing around to ruin the tranquillity of the place. Hard to imagine that for many years this lovely place was home to a huge, noisy and very ugly gold dredge.
We travelled Eastward along the lake’s Northern shoreline to Dorothy Falls which is tucked in a lovely glade just off the narrow gravel road. It’s not a huge fall in terms of volume, but it makes up for that with its charm and isolation.
From there we went inland to the South a little through Kokotahi and Kowhitirangi to see the startling turquoise water in the Hokitika Gorge. Apparently a combination of South Island schist, greywacke and icy water combine to produce this intense colour.
Our last lake while on the West Coast was Lake Brunner. Like the others, it is magical in the right conditions and sometimes a place of dark mystery.
And then it was time to move North towards our final Airbnb accommodation on this trip, in Linkwater, on the Queen Charlotte Drive. It’s a long (6.5 hours) haul from Pukekura, made even longer by rain and road works most of the way. Nevertheless this part of the West coast has a wild beauty no matter what the weather, so I stopped briefly in the Buller Gorge to capture a sense of the place.
It was still raining steadily when we paused to eat our picnic lunch (in the car) at Lake Rotoiti near St Arnauds.
From there, the last long haul in our trip was down the Wairau Valley to Renwick, just out of Blenheim, and then up Long Gully beside the Kaituna River to Havelock, and around the many twists of Queen Charlotte Drive to our accommodation on the Mahakipawa Arm of Pelorus Sound.
We enjoyed a wonderful restful four days there with mostly fine weather. A side trip to Nelson was enjoyable and I had to sample the wares at “The Mussel Pot” in Havelock which describes itself as “The Mussel Capital of the World”. And then it was time to leave. The morning of our departure was bright and cold with a strong mist on some of the paddocks. How could I resist these cows returning from their morning milking?
Just along the road, we encountered the sea again at Anakiwa on the Queen Charlotte Sound. The conditions were stunning and I knew I needed to stop somewhere with a view. A small settlement called “The Grove” provided the perfect viewing spot. I think this shot is my all time favourite.
From exactly the same spot, looking to the East, I had to catch the fire of the morning as the sun brought the new day to the Sounds.
After a somewhat hazardous 30 minute journey with multiple sunstrike places on a steep and winding road, we made it to Picton in plenty of time for the ferry. Some wandering around the waterfront and a coffee and scone in a cafe, it was time to say farewell to the South.
Despite dire warnings from various friends and rough conditions the previous day, our journey on the Aratere was wonderful.
And so ends our circumnavigation of the South Island. It was a wonderful experience, made all the better for me by the companionship and support of Mary. Our trip was to celebrate her retirement, and though she got some of the walks she wanted, I got the better of the deal with lots of photo-opportunities. She is my greatest treasure.