South + West = OMG
Trip Start Apr 22, 2011
26Trip End Jul 19, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Nelson to Haast. Driving along the west coast.
When I get back, I’ll be sharing hundreds of photos with you. I suspect 1/8 of the way through, you’ll be thinking “another ocean shot or another mountain shot or another ocean/mountain shot”. I’ll apologize to you now. To you, they’ll generally all look alike. To me, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. The west coast bus rides were, well - stunning. (btw - I seem to have a pretty good ability to take decent photos while on a speeding bus)
Not the blueberry kind
BIg Piece of Ice.
Not that it was on my list of things to do before I kick the bucket, but if it were, I can now check off - hiked a glacier. Franz Josef Glacier, that is. At first I was a little nervous, even with crampons on my boots. I had visions of falling in a crevasse (“no one has ever been injured on this hike”. I didn’t want to be the one to ruin their record). The hike to the glacier was stunning. 104 photos later, we’re on ice. Wasn’t so scary after all, or maybe I was so in awe that it made me forget my fear. (honestly, I wasn’t THAT frightened). There are several glaciers in NZ. I’ve now conquered one of them. Phew.
I loved this place. A small coastal town with a huge lake (yup, Lake Wanaka). And of course the mountain backdrop. I reconnected with Thelma & Louise (er, I mean Yvonne (the former nun) and Connie) in Wanaka. I was staying in a mediocre hotel (with a beautiful view) and they were staying in this fabulous lodge a 5 min walk away. We hung out at the lodge that evening where I had a chance to meet Wayne & Mandy (owners) and their boys Cory & Ryan (cute and cute). I became Cory’s bff after giving him a very brief tutorial on how to take photos on my iPhone. Did I mention he was cute. Wayne and Mandy could write the book on “hospitality at it’s finest”. They are some of the sweetest people I have ever met. They invited me to breakfast with Y&C the next morning. Yum. The beauty of Wanaka and the beauty of the Enoka family. http://www.tewanaka.co.nz/
Lord of the Rings. Or if you’re from NZ - LOTR.
I remember while watching LOTR on the big screen thinking - I gotta go there. Check. So freakin’ amazing. Milford Sound is a big tourist destination, but there’s no hint of hollywood. They say you’re lucky if you get rain when you do Milford Sound (waterfalls are all temporary, so it’s all about the rain). You all know by now that good karma has been my travel companion - so, yup - it rained and produced what seemed like a thousand waterfalls. Low clouds, rain, the sound from the thousand waterfalls all created a mystical, magical experience. Gorgeous.
Speaking of karma
When I was in Wellington, I spent an hour talking with Mark at the iSite (information centers all over the country). A day away from taking the ferry to the South Island, I wanted to start initial planning (ha). Mark told me about Doubtful Sound, Milford’s step sister. Doubtful is in the heart of a designated World Heritage area. It is so expansive and imposing. You can actually feel the power of nature. We (remember, at this point I’m with my girls, Yvonne & Connie) started the journey at Lake Manapouri (which is sprinkled with 34 islands! and is considered NZ’s most beautiful lake). A gorgeous 20 minute boat ride to Wilmot Pass where we boarded a bus - up, down, waterfall, waterfall, up, down, down, down, and you’ve reached Doubtful Sound
We got the best of both world’s - Milford in the rain/fog, Doubtful rainfree w/ glimpses of sun. Heaven.
The Three Stooges
At this point, I’ve been hanging with Y&C for 2.5 days (we stayed in this quaint town called Te Anau, a starting point for Milford and Doubtful Sound tours). At dinner on the 3rd night, they invited me to travel with them along the south coast. I was beyond thrilled! So many times I tried asking the bus driver to stop so I could take photos, but that never worked - now I’d be a backseat passenger in their Toyota Corolla. Stopping wouldn’t be a issue (they’re as freaky as I am about photo-ops). YAY!
Mind blowing to the 800th power.
The next three days, we drove the South Coastal Route. Holy shit. I didn’t think it could get any better than the Sounds. Well, not the case. Honestly, I thought I might burst with joy.
**Slope Point - the most southern tip of the South Island. It is SO windy, the trees are literally horizontal (poster-worthy photos from here). Stunning is a watered down description.
**Curio Bay - one of the world’s largest petrified forests. The kelp was HUGE. Close your eyes and imagine the biggest spinach fettucini in the world. Got amazing photos from this place - if I have to say so myself.
**Nugget Point - named this because the sea-worn rocks look like gold. Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A gorgeous lighthouse at the point - because it wasn’t already stunning enough.
Farewell, Thelma & Louise
After a night’s sleep in Balclutha (as special as it sounds :), an early start
The Remarkables are just that - remarkable!
From Dunedin, back on the bus for a journey to Queenstown. You think at this point I’d be sick of quaint towns on a lake facing a mountain range. Not. Queenstown sits on Lake Wakatipu. The Remarkables are one of two mountain ranges in the world that run north to south (our own Rockies being the other). I arrived in the evening, so to my delight, the view from my hotel room the next morning was - the Remarkables (sound of long deep breath). The sun was in full force, my iPhone itching to take more photos. As luck, I mean karma, would have it, it was the last weekend for the TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak high country working farm (sheep - finally, up close and personal! These buggers are quite skiddish making for tough photographing) The TSS is also known as “Lady of the Lake” and is believed to be the oldest working coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere, If interested, you could go into the boat’s belly and see the workings of a steamship
Once we get to shore, we’re greeted by perky hosts who invite us to a bbq. Yum, yum, yum. But not until I’ve taken another several photos. I mean, there was a lake and mountains, and you can never get enough of those shots, right? After the bbq, a tour of the farm. Tom was our guide. He was a total hoot (and a looker, if you’re into the rugged farm type - which apparently I am). The herd dogs, Betsy and Ping, were super hyper and very impressive during a sheep herding demonstration. I didn’t know this, but the dogs are bred to kill (yikes!). If they get eye contact with a sheep, it’s off with their heads (not literally, but you get the picture). Even though the sheep are much larger than the dogs, they are completely frightened of them. Interesting little factoid shared by the sexy farmer.
The world record for shearing sheep in a 8 hr period is 427 (or some insane number close to that). Holy moly! Tom sheared one in 3 minutes which I thought was very impressive. AND, they shear it in one piece! Tom invited me up to see the “finished product”. As I was taking a picture of her, the sheep stomped her hoof at me as if to say - hey! give a girl a break. I’m having a baaaaa hair day (heehee). Love the sheep. Hmmmm, maybe that could be my new profession.
The next day I spent poking around the outdoor market, and strolling along the lakeside and through the Queen’s Park. It was quite nippy despite the sunshine, and at this point, my brain is shifting to Australia. Today, I flew from Queenstown to Auckland, and am now on a flight to Sydney.
I had an epiphany while in NZ - my soul was craving the wild outdoors. Wide open space. Quiet - in my head. I feel renewed. Thank you, New Zealand. Your beauty has medicinal powers which I am immensely grateful to have experienced. I will be back, but for now....Kake Te Anua.