There is something incongruous about sitting in an armchair and booking your car hire on the other side of the world. It is of course the power of the Internet and the advanced state of the tourist industry down-under that make this possible. We rented a Sedan car for 45 NZ $ per day. We could drop it off at various terminals.
Motoring in New Zealand is a forgotten joy. Driving is on the left and the roads are almost free of traffic. We had decided to start our tour of South Island from Christchurch.
The reasonably priced Windsor Hotel in Christchurch was popular with tourists. Dinner was taken in a restaurant overlooking the River Avon and we could drink our own wine without paying corkage. In other respects the city is well described as being like a piece of England, albeit a gentler England than has survived today. There is punting on the River Avon as it winds through the Botanic gardens with that serene quality that reminds one of a bygone era. Alternately a tour of the City could have been made by tram on a tourist ticket.
From Christ Church good roads take you past Dunedin and onto the Miter Sound through alpine country. Sight seeing vessels ply the Sound past Miter Peak, which climbs steeply out of the water, then on to the seal colony before reaching the Tasman Sea.
Queenstown offers motels with a balcony overlooking the delightful Lake Wakatipu. The panoramic views were intensive – a place to photograph using a telephoto lens as steamships and speedboats cruise the lake. There are numerous adventure activities including jetboating and whitewater rafting. If you fancy it, bungy jumping is organized from the Kawarau Bridge about 20 Kms north.
Our journey continued up route 6 alongside the sea. If you choose to walk on ice in the summer then take a trip up to the Fox glacier in Westland National Park. Nearby the Minnehaha walk through the beautiful rain forest provided another opportunity to stretch our legs. Further north is the Franz Josef glacier.
Greymouth further up the coast is the terminus for the TranzAlpine train back to Christchurch on a four-hour trip. It is declared to be one of the world's most spectacular journeys.