Sunday, February 15, 2015

NZ 2014 picture session

Not all in chronological order....but I figure I gotta get these pictures up, we've been back for about 3 months!

Helicopter ride to Volcanic White Island

We stopped at Hot Water Beach, where scalding hot water comes up through the sand. People dig their own little jacuzzis right on the beach.

Boat Tour around part of the Coromandel Peninsula. We saw endangered fish, a seal, beautiful beaches, rock formations, and went in a blow hole (where the tides go under a cliff and push a hole out the top).

Kim Really liked these trees (even though they are apparently imported and not native to NZ)

A few pics from the Hot Springs Resort on Lake Taupo 

We saw a string of thermal areas. They were marked by steam coming out of the ground....bubbling mud, very colorful hot (!) mineral waters....and a certain sulfurous smell. 

Kim loved that this mineral pit was nearly the color of my shirt...

The water in NZ is all spectacular.

Staging for the Ferry/Cruise to the South Island

Starting our trek down the east coast of the south island

Then driving across the the rugged west coast

Our trusty jucy van. I liked the fact that it is basically a Previa.
Kim liked the fact that they were everywhere and you could wave to the other tourists who had them.

Our first tramp, the Hump Ridge Track at the very south end of the south island. 
3 days, about 13 miles/day. Along the shore, then up ~3000' to Okaka Lodge.

We made a point to use the water facilities, just lower the pot 2 feet down to the creek and pull back up. Drink without treating.

Heading upwards

We started the day at the furthest white spec near the left side of this pic.

Roots! Everywhere.

At the top of the ridge the plants are very fragile so they've built miles of boardwalk.
It was getting cold....

It was howling cold winds up here, but it was clear, so we hiked up above the lodge to the viewpoint before running back down and unfurling our sleeping bags for warmth.

Upon was below freezing, but looked inviting.

And in the morning.....Snow had fallen.

Starting down the ridge, it stayed cold and cloudy and snowy for a couple hours.

This tree has a..... let's call it a.... "reputation" along the track.

Reaching the coast again it was a bit warmer, but the flies came out.

Here are some pics from the day tour we took of Milford Sound. It was cloudy so we missed some of the grandeur.

These waterfalls are the "four sisters" - Kim understood all too well.

Seals, dolphins, and penguins we all spotted around the Sound.

I was tired and not the best boat passenger.... but of course Kim always thinks the more turbulence/rocking/waves the better!!

We didn't take enough pictures to convey this, but there are alot of sheep in NZ :)

Our second tramp....The world famous Kepler Track.
I was sick the couple days before, and didn't want to go, but after a bit of a ..... conversation ..... Kim basically dragged me into starting the hike. It's another 3 days of 10-13 miles/day. Starting in the valley, heading up to Luxmore hut, then traversing the ridge line on amazing exposed trail for half of the second day (in 100km winds and snow!!) and then descending down the the valley again, in a loop.

We had started across the lake.

As we neared the ridge the wet fluffy snow started. Kim turned into a pumpkin with her UT poncho :)

Luxmore cave is a short trek from the hut, we weren't too adventurous in spelunking just 50 feet or so.

I trekked up to the summit in the afternoon, which ended up affording the clearest views of the trek.

Some resupply's come in on helicopters. Apparently you can also pay a couple hundred bucks to get lifted up the mountain. cheaters!

Heading out on the second day we were warned about gale force winds on the exposed sections of trail. Luckily it was less dangerous and more "high adventure." We were 2 of only 5 people who made the trek this day....the warnings scared off the other 10-15 people who were scheduled for the day.

If you zoom in on this one you can see a couple of our friends (who were tramping on their honeymoon) on the ridgeline near the left of the picture.

We are starting to get a reputation for hiking together in frigid conditions. Thank goodness for the insulated hoods. :)

Starting the descent....the trail was the ridgeline for nearly 4 hours!

This was just some hotel food, but we were happy. We ate dehydrated soups along the trail.

We flew from Queenstown back to Aukland and had a day to wander around town, finding their "space needle" - we went up and surveyed the area.

The next day we flew home. It was a rigorous trip, we saw as much as we could, and enjoyed it. We wished we had more time, but we loved what we got..... Until Next Time!