I reluctantly left my friends in Auckland on Friday and winged my way to Christchurch on the South Island to begin my two-week car tour. Let me say that I was already very nervous about the prospect of driving on the left in a car with the steering wheel on the right. When I discovered that my order for a GPS unit got screwed up and there was no unit available, my nervousness graduated to panic. It was just lucky that the GPS on my phone worked, and I was able to find my way to my B&B, despite the distraction of turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal every single time I needed to make a turn. The next morning, I called the customer service department of the website car rental broker and made a nuisance of myself until they finally coughed up a borrowed GPS unit, and I set out for the West Coast.
My North Island friends warned me to be on alert for cattle or sheep being herded across the road from one pasture to another, and, sure enough, I had to stop for a cattle crossing within an hour. That last cow just stopped in front of my car until the farmer and his dog urged her to finish crossing.
There are cows of different sorts and colors here, like this one with a broad white belt around its middle. They come in black and brown.
Sixty percent of the South Island is covered with mountain ranges, and I was headed for the Southern Alps, which stretch 500 kilometers from the northeast to the southwest, almost the entire length of the island. Once you enter the range, there are photo ops every 5 minutes. My first stop was at
There were some rugged mountains behind Castle Rock.
Along the way, I also saw some snow-capped mountains.
And just before I reached the seacoast, there were these lovely mountain flowers under a gathering of dark clouds.
I was happy to see the Tasman Sea near the town of Hokitika, because it meant that my long drive was close to an end.
It was a 4 1/2 hour drive to my first accommodation, a studio apartment on Kaniere Lake.
It's a small lake with crystal clear water, a bit too chilly for swimming, at least for me.
But these local denizens didn't mind.
I'm happy to report that all the Kiwis on the South Island survived my maiden voyage in the left lane. Being left-handed in a right-handed world can be stressful at times, but in this case, maybe it helped!