Picking up on my previous post about our vacation to New Zealand, I wanted to finish up my reflections on this amazing trip with some images and brief thoughts on the South Island. Firstly, everyone we talked to when preparing admonished us to see the South island, and let me just echo that sentiment. New Zealand’s South Island is amazing. It feels pure, wild, and a bit like Middle Earth.
We flew to Queenstown from Aukland, and after 3 or 4 days in country we were finally adjusting to the time difference. Queenstown is a on Lake Wakatipu, and it’s somewhat of an extreme sports and skiing mecca. In fact, just north of Queenstown is where commercial bungee jumping was born. We flew in during the evening, and given we planned on driving 4 hours away to Milford Sound first thing in the morning, we went to bed quite early. Not until the long ride to the Milford Sound did we begin to realize the full extent of the South island’s magical landscape.
After an hour of driving through the Fjordland National Park we came to a tunnel that seemed to be dug out of the mountainside by orcs. I had never been so uncomfortable driving through a mountain before in my life. It was a one lane road and it looked as if it had been dynamited the day before. We made it, and soon would see what may be the single most beautiful place I have ever laid eyes on: Milford Sound.
It really did seem like King Kong’s Skull Island:
Antonella and I were excited!
Maybe some of us more excited than others:
We took a boat out to the Tasmanian Sea and got a quick look at the Ocean, debating whether we try and swim to Australia.
After that, we went back into the sound:
There were two amazing waterfalls:
And the flora around the sound was kinda like a fern-based tropical rain forest. And while Milford Sound is one of the rainiest places on earth, we did catch it on a gorgeous Fall day.
We left the Milford Sound unwillingly, and it’s about the time we started to realize doing New Zealand in anything less than a month or two is a crime. I would have loved to hike and camp through out the Fjordland National Park for at least a week. There was so much beauty to behold. But, that was not our lot and on the ride back home we stopped at Lake Te Anou and caught a gorgeous sunset:
After that we drove back up to Queenstown and prepared for our trip north through Otago to Mt. Cook. Antonella captured the road from Queenstown to Mt Cook far better than I could. It was a spectacle of fall colors and desertic landscapes within an hour of each other:
After a leisurely 3 hour ride we made it to Mount Cook, and yet another natural wonder to behold. We did a 3-hour hike up to the glacier-based lake in from of the mountain, and it was amazing. But don’t take my word for it, take my iPhone’s:
On the way out of Mt. Cook the sky was like a painting:
That evening we headed to Lake Tekapo for some sleep. We woke up to yet another gorgeous lake (there is no shortage of those in New Zealand):
There was even a monument to Border Collies near the small church:
We then drove our final leg to Christchurch, and the gorgeous scenery just wouldn’t quit:
When we got to downtown Christchurch I have to admit we were a bit confused. We didn’t really know where the city was. Sadly, most of it was gone. I avoided “ruins porn” photos of the city. While there were a few places where you could still see the dramatic effects of the 2011 earthquake that leveled the city, for the most part it was simply empty lots everywhere. And that’s when it slowly dawns on you just how devastating and horrific that event must have been for the residents. We traveled outside the city to Sumner Beach:
And our last hurrah before heading to the Airport hotel for an early morning flight was New Brighton Beach:
Sunset on the New Brighton Beach pier was quite a way to end an amazing trip:
And the surfers were quite good:
As were the murals:
And that was it, an amazing trip to an amazing island. And if we’re lucky enough we’ll return with the kids in the future. I feel like I only got a glimpse of the beauty, but until then…
Saw this gifable cat in Madam Woo's Chinese in Christchurch, and lo and behold pic.twitter.com/609tF9LcTz
— Jim Groom (@jimgroom) May 14, 2017