Tag Archives: New Zealand

Land of the Kiwis-New Zealand Pt 2

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!

 

Ben Lomond

Two hikers taking a Yoga break on Ben Lomond peak in Queenstown, NZ

 

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!

Ben Lomond

A view from the top of Ben Lomond peak in Queenstown, NZ

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.

waterfall

A beautiful hidden waterfall near our campground at Knobs Flat, South Island, NZ

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!

Franz Josef

The setting sun dropping some last rays on the Franz Josef glacier and mountains.

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!

Abel Tasman

A sunrise through the palm fronds at Abel Tasman National Park, NZ

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.

Wellington

A view of Wellington, NZ from above the city after exiting the cable car

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!

Black Swans

A pair of black Swans in the waters off of Rotorua, NZ

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!

Sky Tower

The Auckland Sky Tower as seen through a small cafe window.

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!

Piha Beach

A panorama of Piha Beach, located west of Auckland, NZ

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!

 

Posted in New Zealand, Uncategorized

Land of the Kiwis-New Zealand Pt 1!

Well after a long blog break (took a while to recover from the return trip!), it’s time to finally update the last stop on my Down Under tour. This was to the long awaited country of New Zealand, land of glaciers, coastlines, and volcanoes and Kiwis! During these travels, we split the accommodations between a tent, AirBnB and single rooms in hostels. Our primary means of transportation was a rental car with hatchback which worked out great for all our gear and food and giving us the mobility to get into areas with less frequent transportation.

Flying in over the South Island, one could see that it was a very geographically tumultuous country. It was pretty exciting knowing that we would soon be down there among the mountains and lakes.

New Zealand

NZ South Island upon arrival

We landed in Christchurch (on South Island), stocked up on supplies and started heading South. One of the first stops was Akaroa, a former French settlement that was later converted to British. It was very typical of the beautiful scenery that you would see on the East coast of the South Island.

Akaroa

The harbor of Akaroa, a former French settlement.

Apparently this British Akaroa seagull did not approve of my taking his picture, perhaps he knew that I was French?

seagull

An angry seagull wants food for his picture being taken!

From Akaroa, we went further south and came along Lake Tekapo. This beautiful aquamarine like provided some nice hiking trails and very relaxing views. It was especially cool that this cloud sat trapped in the valley the whole first day that we were there.

Lake Tekapo

A cloud trapped in a valley above Lake Tekapo in the South Island, NZ

The next stop on our South Island tour was my favorite stop and that was Mt Cook national park. I loved camping below these majestic mountains and glaciers and occasionally hearing the glaciers calving.

Mt Cook

Glaciers and Mt Cook (mountain in the right rear) in a beautiful setting.

Since it was such a beautiful location and a clear night, I decided to go out and do some nighttime photography. I initially shot some stars but that didn’t work out to my satisfaction. Then the moon rose and drained the stars of all their brilliance. I was still able to capture the moon starting to shine on this mountain range which was pretty phenomenal to watch.

Mt Cook

The moonrise captured on a mountain range in Mt Cook National Park.

It was very sad when we had to leave the beauty of Mt Cook National Park but there was much more to see of the South Island!

Mt. Cook

Mt Cook National Park as seen in the mirror leaving the park.

That covers the first half of our trip in New Zealand. In the second blog post coming up very soon (I promise!), I’ll talk about the trip up the West Coast of the South Island and then wrapping up in the North Island! Happy Travels!

 

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