And now onto the second half of the New Zealand journey. We last left you traveling southward on South Island leaving Mt Cook National Park. It was on to Queenstown, NZ, a location famous for it’s adrenaline packed activities. We arrived at 1100 a.m. and immediately took off to climb Ben Lomond Peak, located next to Queenstown. While on the way up, we stopped for our packed lunch at the saddle, pretty much 2/3d the way up the mountain. While there, these two girls showed up and decided to start practicing their yoga moves! I’ll have to say it was cheap, humorous, lunchtime entertainment to watch these two!
So after enjoying the lunchtime antics, it was time to tackle the last 1/3d, but definitely toughest part of the mountain. This took us to the top, a grueling 8 hour round trip journey but well worth the panoramic 360 degree views. Truly worth the hike if you are ever in Queenstown!
After a couple of days in Queenstown, we went to Milford Sound, an inlet of high cliffs and waterfalls next to the Tasman Sea. I’d like to say it was spectacular but unfortunately we had low cloud ceiling and could only see the parts closer to the water. While that was a bit of a letdown, I was able to stumble upon a waterfall near our campground based on a tip from a forest ranger. This photo was my favorite of the entire trip. I really loved the glow of the water from the time exposure and the partial sunlight on the leaves on the left.
We then started up the West Coast of South Island, an area well know for the frequent rains. And it came true for us but only for one night! As we were camping that night, I heard the rains begin and rain for a long time. Not worried as I had a waterproof tent, however when it came time to put on the shorts in the morning, they were soaked and sitting in a puddle inside the tent. When I stepped outside, the tent was sitting in a small pond as we happened to find the low ground of the camping area. A nice surprise but it all dried out!
So our next stop was Franz Josef glacier, a beautiful, however quickly melting glacier in the mountains on the west coast. Although tired, I was able to capture some late evening sky above the glacier (center of picture) and mountains before finally hitting the bed. Glad I made the effort as it was very serene!
Further up the coast, with a very nice stop in Charleston visiting my friend Anna’s parents (thanks Kay and Chris!), it was on to Abel Tasman National Park for a nice hike. While camping there, nature called and I woke up to this stunning sunrise. It really took some discipline shooting the sunrise as I had other pressing matters but I was able to hold on!
That was the last stop before heading on over to North Island. Our first stop on North Island, we visited my old friends Anna and Ogre, and their lovely kiddos. It was very nice seeing Anna and Ogre after about 10 years, We haven’t changed a bit! Anna took us on a lovely tour of Wellington, a beautiful city that looks like a lot of fun to live in, as seen below.
Following Wellington, we went north to a running weekend on the Eastern coast. While on the way, we stopped at Rotorua, a place famous for it’s geysers, hot springs and sulphur smell. It was interesting to see that even the Swans adapted to this volcanic area!
Following the weekend running through the hills of Eastern North Island, we went on into Auckland where we spent a couple of days. One of those days involved a self guided city walk which highlighted a lot of hidden features. We really enjoyed this cafe with its view of the Sky Tower!
Just before boarding our plane, we used a few free hours and went to Piha beach located west of Auckland. This was a very interesting beach because of the black sand created by the high iron content from the volcanoes. And yes, it gets very hot when barefoot!
Overall a great visit seeing some incredible sites. New Zealand was truly remarkable in having such a diversity of geology with it’s mountains, seashores, volcanoes, and glaciers. Truly a wonder to visit!