On our first morning we woke up early, feeling mostly refreshed after two previous evenings on planes. We decided to skip the pricey buffet breakfast at the hotel and just head back to the airport to pick up our rental car and begin our journey west.
It was a long drive to Wanaka, about five hours, with lots of farms full of sheep, cows and even deer. We noticed quite a few police cars in and around Christchurch but they thinned out as we left the metro area.
To break up the trip, we decided to stop at Peel Forest for the hike to Acland Falls. It was a pleasant walk with lots of bird calls and greenery – about an hour in and out. Perhaps more importantly, we ran into another couple on the tail end of their trip who highly recommended the Doubtful Sound cruise we had been considering.
At this point we were getting a bit peckish so we stopped outside Geraldine for late lunch at Valley Brewing Company. I had the beef, bacon and beer pie and Eric had the creamy tomato soup. Both dishes were very tasty and a good value. We also tried two of their beers, an amber (‘Valley Amber’) and a red ale (‘Muster’). Two other couples had tasting flight boards, but as this place is also a cafe, some folks came in just for a coffee in the late afternoon.
My tasty beef pie and the entrance to the restaurant (hops growing on the right)
We continued on and the landscape gradually became drier and hillier. Our next stop was Lake Tekapo with the picturesque Church of the Good Shepherd and gorgeous views across the lake.
30 minutes further was Lake Pukaki and even more views.
Mt Cook in the distance across Lake Pukaki
After gassing up the car in Twizel, we made our way through Landis Pass with it’s dry landscape and twisty roads.
Landis Pass view from the marked overlook
From here we continued another two hours to our destination for two nights, Wanaka.