Wow, we’ve been on the road over 200 days now! Yesterday morning was another clear, sunny day in Franz Josef. We’d heard that clear days like this are not the norm, so we’ve been lucky to have great views of the mountains and the glaciers while we’ve been here. We had considered paying for a helicopter flight to land and walk on the glaciers or maybe just a sight-seeing plane ride, but those options were more expensive than we wanted to pay. Maybe another time when we’re not saving our money for another six months of travel yet to go.
Leaving Franz Josef we drove south and caught a glimpse of the Tasman Sea a couple times during the drive. Then we turned inland to cross the Southern Alps of New Zealand. As we drove through the mountains we saw lingering snow on some of the higher peaks. Our destination for the night was past the mountains into the town of Cromwell. We were surprised at how hot and dry it was there. The grass at the campground was brown and dry and I noticed a newspaper headline warning about fire restrictions. I guess this area hasn’t had as much rain as we’ve seen elsewhere in this country.
We only stayed in Cromwell for one night to help break up the long drive to the Fiordland region. Today we moved on again and the scenery became greener very soon after leaving dry, brown Cromwell. We bypassed entirely the town of Queenstown, which is touted as the adventure sport capital of New Zealand. We decided there wasn’t much for us to see there and that we’d much rather see the scenery of Fiordland National Park. We did catch a distant glimpse of Queenstown as we drove past. It’s on the edge of a lake and is in a very scenic location.
For the rest of today’s drive we saw a lot of sheep, some scenic lakes and hills, and a little rain. Hopefully they got some of that moisture in Cromwell. Tonight we’re camped in the Top 10 Holiday Park in Te Anau. This town is also on the edge of a lake and is the closest town to Fiordland National Park. We’ll be staying here a few nights so we can venture into the park, which includes scenic Milford Sound.