Hoping to get onto Queenstown, we were gated by the re-opening of the Haast Pass which is the only route south to Queenstown (without taking an 8 hr detour back north and around).

With the unfortunate tragedy a few weeks ago with the massive rock slip that took the lives of those 2 Canadians, the Haast Pass has been having some major issues re-opening the road with all the rain recently. It was closed for 9 days before it re-opened after the accident and with another slippage it was shut down again for about 5 days. With the sunshine the last few days the crews were able to remove the rubble and repair the ~60m of road that had been impacted by the slide.

With our fingers crossed, we were told the pass was expected to be open at noon for 6 hrs, but with rain in the forecast tomorrow, if we didn’t get out today – it may be another week if it closes again.

After a quick Skype in the car with our parents (we have discovered Telecom provides FREE wifi in every town that you can even access with your laptop) we headed out towards the pass. A couple hours away, we made a quick detour in hopes of seeing some Fiordland crested Penguins at the Monro Beach walk. Knowing we were on a time crunch, we sprinted down the bush path towards the beach.

Monro Beach in search for penguinsĀ 

Unfortunately after a quick search we came up with nothing and headed back to the carpark at a full sprint. Since we didn’t get a hike in today, we had to get our exercise somehow I guess šŸ˜›

Back onto the road, we came up to the blockage where the rock slip occurred. A lineup of traffic was waiting as only one lane of highway had been opened in this section. It was amazing to see the huge boulders just on the side of the road with the gorge a long way down. Gave me Goosebumps thinking of that poor couple…

Haast PassĀ 

Along the route we came through some beautiful mountain lakes with spectacular scenery

Safely through the pass we were on our way to a DOC campsite just outside Queenstown. Located on Lake Moke we setup the Ractis with the beautiful mountain backdrop next to the blue lake. Jordan figures we can climb this unmarked mountain – decision is still to be made šŸ˜›

Lake Moke DOC CampsiteĀ 

Fitted with a sheltered outdoor kitchen (I LOVE these DOC campsites here), we made another great meal with our camping stove with a side salad!

Jordan making us a delicious saladĀ 

We even had a few visitors along the campsite – a herd of Merino sheep! Their large horns were a bit intimidating and a few bucked heads in some playful banter.

Merino Sheep

After having spent many nights now in the Ractis, we’re getting quite efficient at setting it up!