Busing it from Queenstown to Christchurch

Thursday, July 12, 2012

While planning my trip to both Australia and New Zealand, I knew I wanted to cover as much ground as possible, since I’m not sure if I’ll ever be back. This was especially true of New Zealand, considering the size of the country.

I wanted to pay a visit to Mt. Cook National Park, because it was stunning in photographs. I found a perfect way to incorporate the park into my travels: through a bus tour from Queenstown to Christchurch, via Mt. Cook.

While reading the reviews, I saw many complaints about the frequent bathroom stops and souvenir store visits, but I didn’t personally feel that they got into the way. I booked the tour through Viator, but the tour itself was run by InterCity Bus/Great Sights NZ, so I knew that it would be good.

Though I was supposed to have called the office to confirm my hotel pick-up, I didn’t, because I figured it’d be better for me to walk to the central meet-up point instead. Well when I returned to my room the night before, I found a note from InterCity via the hotel stating that they’d come and pick me up at 7:50am. Great customer service already!

They came at 7:44am: an older man named Brian and his Japanese tour guide companion. We picked up another couple, and us four tourists and two guides were off, headed towards Christchurch. We made a nearly 2-hour stop for lunch inside Mount Cook National Park, at the Hermitage Hotel and dropped off some passengers and picked others up before heading back on the road for Christchurch. This drive was just amazing -- I love being able to see the small towns of any place I go, just to see what life is “really” like. New Zealand is stunning, in the most understated way.

They dropped me off at my hotel in Christchurch and bid me adieu … again, I highly recommend InterCity/Great Sights NZ and the drive, whether taken by tour bus or rental car.

Goodbye, the Remarkables! Just after dawn.

First restroom stop ... lots of these around New Zealand, I think for farming purposes
I so wished I could have hopped off when I pleased; so many great photo ops!

Hundreds of sheep!

Speaking of sheep, I took this video (it's a little shaky) of sheep crossing the road with a shepherd! 

Second restroom stop?

There were a lot of these orange shrubby looking plants all over ... in person, they were more vibrant and so eye-catching. I tried to capture them multiple times, but this was the best I could do!

One of the many still rivers we passed over

Lake Tekapo ... this is even bluer in person! It's so blue because it's fed by glaciers.

Look at the striated rock there! I think it's rock, at least ...

This is an awful photo, but the most accurate depiction of the blue it was in person.

Where the snow and ice began ... it had snowed heavily the weekend before.

Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park ... in the backyard of The Hermitage hotel, which has an awesome
cafeteria area with massive windows overlooking the mountains.

Church of the Good Shepherd

Inside the church

The sun shining over Lake Tekapo

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