Saturday, June 7, 2008

New Zealand Artist's Tour: Milford Sound, Wanaka, Banks Peninsula, Mavora Lakes, West Coast

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is part of the Fiordland national park . It is situated sketch of the coast line looking north from the mouth of Milford sound at the northern end of the Fiordland national park .
Milford Sound is accessible via three ways . By sea , by road which is the most common rout that people take or via the Milford track which comes out at Sand fly point.

At Milford Sound there are two places to stay. The Milford Haven lodge , a five star hotel or the Milford back packers lodge . Also at Milford Haven is a pub a post office and a Cafe. There are two ways to see Milford Sound. One is by the launch that takes you out onto the sound and out to the entrance and the second is by air . There is an airstrip which has regular flights taking off .The main feature of Milford sound is the Mitre Peak , a mile high mountain that rises straight out of the sea.

The one thing that all those visiting Mildoed Sound should be very aware of is how heavy it can rain . You will most probably never come across any thing like it , it is very torrential and the average rain fall is 3 metres per annum.


Wanaka is a small town that is at the head of Lake Wanaka . The town itself is a popular holiday spot with the holiday makers and also tourist s staying at the extensive camp site . This is a cosy place to stay with marvelous views of the lake and also the surrounding mountains .

Banks Peninsula

The Banks Peninsula is a large peninsula that has a number of extinct volcanoes on it .

The road leading to the Banks Peninsula goes along birdlings flat and then it steadily climbs up into the volcanic rim of Akaroa Harbour. Dotted around the rim are a number of communities , the most prominent is Akaroa which is at the far end of the road .

Akaroa used to be a French colony , the only one that managed to establish itself in New Zealand . From Akaroa you can reach other parts of the peninsula via the mountain road . This leads out of the volcanic rim of the Akaroa harbour and to the other harbours and bays , such a Okaines bay and Pidgeon bay . There are plenty of walks in the area some of the roads are not ideal for most cars though .

For the artist there is a wealth of material for painting, what ever subject that may inspire you . There are coastal scenes , mountains as well as some interesting buildings that deserve attention as the main subject or will compliment the composition. There is also a four star hotel next to the lake . Wanaka itself boasts a very good Tex Mex restaurant called Te Kano. There is also a very good bakers that is worth a visit .

Just out side Wanaka is a Maze that also has a set of puzzles for you to mull over in the cafe . A good days recreation to be had here by all of the family. To the South of Wanaka there is an airstrip where you can take a flight over the Mount Aspiring national park .

Mavora Lakes

The Mavora Lakes are part of the Green Stone national park which is situated some 45 kilometres south of Lake Wakatipu and 30 kilometres north of the main highway from Dunedin to Te Anau. There are two lake's , North and South ,the north being the larger one of the two .

The lakes are set in a valley which has the Greenstone mountains at the head . The Greenstone mountains have a track that leads into them which you can take but be prepared for foul weather and sufficient provisions .

The Lakes are ideal for fly fishing as there is a good stock of trout in the lakes.There is a camp site which is very basic so you either have to rough it or supply your own. The only facility supplied is a long drop, a WC. For the artist there are plenty of opportunities to paint mountain scenes with the changing clouds and weather .

North Mavora lake seen from the path that leads along be side the lake and upto the Greenstone Mountains .

Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu is synonymous with Queenstown , which is the main community on the lake. There are others dotted around the lake, these are looking towards Mt Nicholas mostly sheep stations which are only accessible by tracks and long walks or via boat such as the SS Earnslaw which is named after the mountain at the head of the lake. The Earnslaw cruises up the lake daily to Mount Nicholas sheep station.

The lake itself is in the shape of a very large S .At the other end of the lake is Kingston where there is the train station and the preserved steam train, "the Kingston Flyer". There are various view points around the lake all giving breath taking views, some more accessible than others.

West Coast

Westcoast is a name used in New Zealand to refer to the Westcoast of South Island . This slim strip of coastal land runs from just north of Karamea to the Haast Pass . The West Coast is hilly and mountainous, covered in bush with numerous rivers running out into the Tasman Sea .

There are a number of tracks and bush walks on the West Coast ranging from the sedate and leisurely to the more difficult and challenging , only to be tackled by the experienced or with a guide. There are also the walks upon the Glaciers at Fox and Franz Josef which are led by a guide .

The coast line on the West Coast is rugged with cliffs dropping away into the surf with numerous rocks jutting out of the sea. Very picturesque for the artist but an absolute danger for the Mariner . The West Coast is doted with countless bays . One in particular is Bruce Bay where there are large lumps of opaque quartz on the beach.

Travelling down the West coast is relatively easy . From Karamea to the Haast Pass and over to Wanaka you can travel by bus . This is the easiest way to get from the top to the far south .

The West Coast rises very dramatically from the coast upto the Southern Alps . All along the coast there are views with mountain back drops. As well as the mountains there are numerous lakes that are ideal for camping by either over night or for several days . The main towns on the West Coast are Westport , Greymouth , Hokitica , Franz Josef and Fox .There are smaller towns such as Ross , Okarito and Karamea.

After Fox there is little habitation . If you intend walking along the road south beyond Fox ensure you have enough provisions .There are a number of restaurants and cafes but you might just be tempted to stop off by a lake .

Westland is also refered to as Wetland , it lives upto this title and it can get extremely wet if you are unfortunate . If you do have the luck with the weather you can bask in the sub tropical sunshine as you stand infront of Franz Josef or Fox Glacier admiring the scenery.

The West Coast is famous for its gold fields. There are a number of places where you can learn to pan for gold. You pay a nominal fee and you get a pan of gold barring rock to pan. The best one to visit is at Ross where there is a pub opposite the tourist hut.

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