Tasmania & New Zealand 2014 travel blog

Clay cliffs with wild rose bushes covered in rose hips--imagine when they...

Shirley talking to 2 young Germans at Clay Cliffs

Bottoms up for ducks at our campground on Lake Wanaka

A sample of the kind of country we have been driving through...


This morning dawned quite cloudy, but not very cold. Once we got on our way, we went to the Clay Cliffs near Omarama. After the turnoff from the highway, you turn off on a gravel road, then another gravel road, then there is a gate, asking you to pay $5 per car somewhere else (private property, but not commercialized), then we opened the gate and drove on some more gravel road, then another gate and more gravel road, and finally a parking area and a sign 4WD only past this point. So we parked, and followed the trail.

This is an area like the Badlands of South Dakota, only much smaller. Clay cliffs filled with small stones, eroded into pinnacles and canyons. Also various colors—gray, pink, tan, etc. The walk up to the cliffs was through an area filled with wild roses—a few blossoms here and there, but millions of rose hips. I tried to imagine what it would be like when the roses were all blooming. Not that the cliffs weren’t spectacular by themselves.

Before long, two young men caught up with us on the trail. They said they had seen us yesterday at the Tasman Glacier viewpoint. They were young Germans from Dresden. They were impressed with our hiking (we probably look really old to them), even though we are really slow. We had a very good conversation with them, before they went ahead on the trail. One of them had gone to college at a small Baptist college in Georgia! Talk about culture shock! He said they were a week into a 6 ½ week tour of NZ, during their school break. Their next stop is Wanaka, as is ours, and we joked about meeting them there.

Near the end we met them again, coming back. They said the trail continued, but got steeper and rockier, which it did. We didn’t go much farther, and we saw them on the road leaving, hiking out to their car, which they had left by the first gate, so we gave them a lift.

We stopped again in Omarama for diesel (the fuel pumps say we bought much more fuel than the gauge in our van says we should need). Then we continued on to Wanaka. The clouds cleared and it warmed up. This part of NZ looks a lot like parts of the American West--brown hills and dry grass. Fields are irrigated, otherwise it is very dry, unlike the West Coast, over the mountains.

I was looking for a specific holiday park, Lake Outlet Holiday Park, based on a recommendation in a blog, I think on Trip Advisor. We went all the way through town and didn’t find it, so we plugged in the GPS, which told us it was on the other side of town (naturally). Anyway, we found it (no signs on the highway at all), got a campsite, then logged in, checked email, and I started researching where we are going from here—the West Coast, but I wanted to find out where specifically there were interesting things to do. We keep outrunning my planning.

One of the things I read led me to believe we might not have much access to supermarkets for the next few days, so I checked at the office and found out where the ONLY supermarket in town is, and we headed off for that. We didn’t need a lot, but if there aren’t going to be any, I figured we’d better stock up.

Got back to camp and decided to go for a walk down by the lake before dinner. Saw one fisherman and a half-dozen ducks, then headed back to camp, when whom should we see, but one of the Germans we had talked to earlier. Stranger than fiction—there are 4 holiday parks in the area, and multiple other places to stay—and they ended up here. They had seen me going in to the office earlier, so they knew we were here. This young man was going out for a run after their dinner, and we were headed back to our camper to fix dinner. They plan to stay here for another night, going hang gliding or something. We plan to visit the Museum of Warplanes and Wheels tomorrow, then head for the West Coast—back into rain and probably cold weather.

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