Franz Josef to Queenstown. 4 hours 20 minutes by car, 9 hours by coach.
This was a loooong day as we’re not used to travelling by coach. At the beginning and end of the journey the coach has to stop at various accommodations to pick up/drop off people, which does add time. We were worried about having travel sickness due to the journey the day before, but luckily we managed to snaffle two front seats, so had a great view of the road and scenery ahead.
We have to say that the coach drivers were great – Richard drove the first half of the trip and Paul the second. Both provided a funny and informative commentary and, apart from me thinking that we could have been in Queenstown a lot sooner to get on with some sightseeing, we did quite enjoy it. Sometimes it’s good to sit back, relax and not do the driving, or so Angus says – he doesn’t trust my driving on NZ roads ;0)
At 4.45pm we checked into the hotel (Copthorne Lakeview – with another free room upgrade), chucked our bags onto the floor of our room and marvelled at the view of turquoise Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range (or the Mountains of Mordor for Lord of the Rings fans). Wow. Whilst gazing at these wonders of nature, we had a wee vote on what we should do over the next couple of days. It came down to the weather and how many more early starts and full day coach trips we could do.
We were due to go on a trip to Milford Sound the next day. An absolutely stunning area of the Fiordland region, but it meant another 7.30am start and not getting back to Queenstown until 7.45pm. Like with Franz Josef, we’re fortunate to have visited Milford Sound before, but never without a shroud of cloud.
The weather decided it. More cloud, chance of showers and a pretty cold 15 degrees. 15 degrees!! We’d acclimatised to low 30s after being in the South Island. It felt Baltic. So, the next day was a morning of pressie shopping, a walk along the lakefront trail and an afternoon of gourmet pizza, NZ wine and craft beer. You just can’t go wrong!