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The Road To Queenstown

The drive from Holitika to Queenstown is simply magnificent. We saw beaches, pastures, mountains and even caught a glimpse of the Franz Josef Glacier. It’s located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park and is near a town named after the glacier itself. This 7000 year old glacier is the steepest and fastest moving glacier in New Zealand. It moves at a staggering 4 meters per day. The average speed of a glacier is 1 metre per day. It’s also one of the most accessible glaciers in the world and can be reached via a hike through the rainforest. Yes, I said, “Rainforest”.

While you can walk up to the base of the glacier, it’s a 1.5 hour hike each way and we just didn’t have the time so we settled for a viewing area up in the mountains. We did also consider taking a helicopter ride where they actually land on the glacier but it’s quite pricey. It runs about $260 NZD per person for a 20 minute ride and an 8-10 minute stop on the glacier. Given the fact that New Zealand has had their hands deep in our pockets this entire trip we decided to forgo the ride and just take in the view.

After a brief stop to take in the glacier we were back on the twisty turning roads through the mountains. There were many beautiful places we could have stopped to spend time but we had a lot of ground to cover…seven hours, not including the stops. Of course we did make a few stops along the way. How can you not stop to see some of these amazing places? Who knows when or if we will ever be back here? And there’s nothing like seeing honest to goodness glacier water running down a river. It’s as clear as the waters we saw in the islands last summer only much, much colder.

So here we are driving down the road. Jack is driving at this point which is a little like being on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney but even as tough as Dan is we had to give him a break from driving once in a while. Anyway, we are driving through Cardrona Valley and we are all chatting and checking out the scenery when Jack slows down and starts to turn around. What is it? What did we miss that only Jack seemed to see? Well, you’d never believe it unless I had pictures to prove it. Along side of the road is a fence that literally has thousands and thousands of bras attached to it. YES, I said, “Bras!” This place is called Bradona and the fence is there to support (no pun intended) breast cancer awareness. I’ve read that it has been there for over 20 years.

The story goes that back in 1999 four bras appeared on a fence along the highway one night. The locals are a bit stuffy and didn’t really appreciate it but much to their chagrin more bras were being added to the fence almost daily. Then some unknown bra thief decided to cut the bras away in the dark of night. Every time this thief removed them, more would appear the following day. It was sort of a tit for tat (sorry, couldn’t resist) sort of thing that continued and eventually raised the attention of the media. Before long there were so many people stopping to take photos and leave their unmentionables that they had to move the display to a nearby driveway to keep people from stopping on the main highway. In 2015 the owners of the The Cardrona, a horse trekking and quad biking business whose driveway was used for the display, took over the maintenance of this fence and turned it into a tribute to breast cancer awareness. There are times that they actually have to remove some bras because there are so many they are afraid the fence will collapse! If you want to have your bra place on the fence you can actually mail it to them and they will put it there for you. (Seriously!) There is a donation box there so if you stop to take photos be sure to leave a few dollars in the box. In one year it generated more than $40K for the Cancer Society of New Zealand! I wonder if the person or people who left their bras on that fence back in 1999 had any idea what would have become of them?

The fence is so long we couldn’t get it all in one photograph!

In case you’re wondering, Mary and I both left there with all the bras we had when we arrived. It’s not like I wouldn’t have loved to ditch ALL my bras but, you know, a good southern gal has to dress properly and that includes having the appropriate undergarments. After all, what would mama have said if I’d have stripped my bra and left it on some fence? That said, we did make a donation to the Cancer Society before we headed on down the road.

Just when we thought the day’s journey would never end we came up over a mountain with a lookout that looked right down the valley toward Queenstown. WOW! This is some view! I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t any snow left atop the mountains but when you see how beautiful everything is there you really just couldn’t be disappointed.

Of course Grape Ape loved getting out and having a chance to explore the mountaintop. We did tell him not to go on the other side of the fence but sometimes he just can’t help himself. There were so many tourists there taking pictures that he just had to get away for a bit.

Grape Ape just loves to photobomb us but when you see that smile you just have to melt!
The fabulous view from our Air B&B

The lookout was our final stop before we made our way into Queenstown and to the Kiwi Bach Air B&B. It sits up on the side of the mountain overlooking the ice blue lake. And while this place was very, very dated with a tiny kitchen and a pool table that looked like new in the photos but was more like a dilapidated child’s toy in person, it worked just fine for us. It was clean and the beds were comfy too. Of course there’s that view….just look at that view! By now you know our saying….“We’re not buying it!”

We were exhausted by the time we arrived and all we wanted to do was put our things away and relax. Well, you know, the best laid plans yada, yada, yada. It turns out the rental company didn’t send us the code to the lockbox. It was late in the afternoon on a Friday and I called the number that had called us a couple of days prior to confirm the rental. Apparently it was the cell phone of one of the guys in the rental office. He answered and when I explained the issue he said he was already off work for the weekend and we should call another number he was going to give me. Seriously? I was tired and ready for a hot shower and a cocktail and he was NOT helping my attitude so I pressed him a bit and told him we needed this code and now. I further explained that failure on their part to provide us the appropriate information was not my problem and he needed to take time out of his partying (I could hear he was at a bar) to assist me. I further explained that I would be speaking of our experience on our blog and suddenly, like magic, that code must have appeared to him like an apparition. Within a second of me making my demands he was able to give it to me and I was able to access our key. There now, was that so freaking difficult you lazy little turd? As I promised him….I’m writing about our experience and if you click on the Kiwi Back link here you will find their Air B&B listing. While the place was fine for a couple of nights I certainly wouldn’t go back nor would I recommend it to anyone.

Anyway, once I had the code and retrieved the key we put our things away, made a few cocktails and tried to order food for delivery. This turned out to be a bit of a challenge due to the fact we have US credit cards. We couldn’t order online unless we ordered pizza and we couldn’t get the “Uber Eats” people to talk to us via the phone. When we couldn’t make it happen Dan & Jack just decided to go pick up something for us. Mary and I relaxed and took in the amazing views while the boys went hunting and gathering. They came back, we ate and they played pool on the wobbly pool table. Of course Dan couldn’t stand the fact that it was so wobbly so he got out his tools and tried to tighten it up a bit. It was better but I still wouldn’t have wanted to have a small child running about because one hit and it could have come crashing down.

All in all it was an amazing day with many spectacular sights along the way and tomorrow there’s more adventures to be had as we check out the -5° Ice Bar! It’s sure to be a very “cool” experience.

Cheers,

Jilly & Dan

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Cook Strait Ferry Crossing

Morning came very early today! We were all up and moving at 0500 which is WAY too early for most of us. Dan is the early bird in this flock. But we had to do it in order to get to the ferry dock in time. We have a pretty tight schedule today so there’s no time to dilly dally.

We have coffee and tea and everyone slowly starts to get going. Of course we’ve got to load the car with all of our food and luggage so Dan takes the lead and starts hauling out the goods. After a quick walk through to be sure everything is left the way it’s supposed to be and to be sure we haven’t left anything behind, we are off to the races again.

The sun is barely peeking over the horizon as we head down the mountain toward town. We make a few wrong turns and for the first time since we’ve been on this trip Dan actually starts to go down the wrong side of the road. Ooops! Fortunately there were very few people out so he was able to correct his mistake without wrecking the car or terrifying any of the locals.

We arrive at the ferry dock where they line us up with the rest that are crossing today. We’ve got about an hour and a half to kill before boarding so we do the “American” thing. Since it’s pretty cool outside we walk across the street to McDonalds for a cup of coffee. The funny thing is that at McDonalds in this country they don’t just make drip coffee. They actually have baristas making coffee at a special counter. It’s pretty gourmet for this type of joint.

Our very limited view of downtown Wellington makes us wish we were going to be spending more time here. There’s lots of things to see here but time just won’t allow it. Before long we must head back to the car and get ready for boarding. Having never been on a car ferry before we’re not quite sure what to expect. Of course, Jilly had her trusty video going so rather than tell you about the ferry ride, we’ll show you. Click on the link at the bottom of this article to view the video. It’s pretty short but will show you the stunning beauty that is Marlborough Sound.

The ferry terminal in Wellington.
Jilly spread some of her daddy’s ashes here on the way out of the harbor.

The ferry ride and Marlborough sound certainly lived up to all the hype. While taking our car on the ferry wasn’t cheap, around $168 NZD/person roundtrip, it was definitely worth every penny. And, although the day was rather chilly and the beginning of the trip was windy with some pretty rough seas we enjoyed every second of it. From Picton we kept on trucking and about six hours later we arrived at Hokitika.

Check back to find out more about this artsy, seaside town.

Cheers,

Jilly & Dan

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE COOK STRAIT FERRY CROSSING VIDEO!