My Grandson and I are heading to Costa Rica for 2 weeks shortly. He is excited and I am excited to share with him my love of travel and to introduce him to the world community.
In the meantime I would like to remove people that I don’t know, that seem to have attached themselves as followers. Maybe I do know who you are but don’t recognized your “handle”. If you are one of those people that I will list below, please send me a text or email to let me know who you are. If I don’t hear from you before the eve of the 31st, I will delete your name.
Listed as followers: “canadiansunkiss”, “dreich321”, “vivianywt”, “Evangelist Sam Davis-davissam448”….who are you???
As I previously mentioned, we hopefully changed our plans so that we are able to see Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo. We are heading that way but it does not look good. But then ….. it cleared. We could see Aoraki/Mt. Cook in the distance.
We stopped at the car park and Hayden and I walked to Kea point lookout where we could see intermittently Mt Sefton, the Footstool and Mueller Glacier and Lake. We did hear the cracking of the glacier. The rest of the group went on the longer hike hoping to see Aoraki and the icebergs on Hooker Lake but the mount was socked in.
At 3760 metres….Aoraki/ Mt. Cook…. Symbolizes 3 brothers … it being highest of the 3 mountains
Hayden picked for Jeanette’s birthday, a NZ alpine daisy called a Golden Spaniard.
Porcupine Shrub… nasty thorns like a hawthorn but is much worse.
Lake Tekapo…gorgeous glacial waters that only shows when the sun shines. Lucky us!!! The night skies here are the darkest skies in the world. There is huge telescope near here ….. apparently caught 2 exploding stars that happened 11 billion years ago.
Christchurch had a 6.3 earthquake in 2011?when 185 died…. They are still working to replace buildings destroyed. Then in 2019, the massacre at a mosque of 51 muslims was the darkest day in NZ history that allowed the passing a law banning all automatic and semi automatic guns, very quickly. They should do that everywhere.
We all gathered for a last evening dinner together. It was an early evening for some poor souls that had to catch an Uber for the airport at 2:30 am
December 22/22…..Our flight wasn’t that early but the stress of making that final dash, I for one didn’t sleep that well…..coupled with whether or not my flight would even go because of the freezing snowy mess at the airport in Vancouver and Victoria. Jeanette’s family thought she should change flights and go direct to NY to be with family so we parted in Auckland airport. We had tried to meet a lovely lady that we met on a previous cruise who lives not too far from Christchurch earlier but our delay go see Mt Cook preempted that. So she was kind enough to meet us at the airport in the morning. Thank you Margaret.
By the way, we left Christchurch on the 22nd at 10 something am and were to arrive earlier than when we left on the same day….
I am now home in Victoria. Now I am able (got good wifi here) to finish sending this final blog of Australia and NZ. Until the next trip, I hope you all keep well and have a wonderful Christmas season.
Because the weather was going to real crappy where we were going, we delayed leaving Queenstown for several hours. Some went up the gondola and played on the luges. Jeanette and I just walked around the downtown area and the waterfront. It is a lovely downtown area which is all pedestrian streets…… and the sun is shining…… and the views are breathtakingly beautiful.
Chilli told of the story while we were travelling through a part the country about Shrek the sheep. Shrek the sheep would hide up in the hills whenever the dogs and bells indicated that they were going to shear the sheep. He hid successfully for 7 years. What they usually get off an every sheep at sheering time is 3-4 kilos. When they caught up with him, he was massive, you couldn’t see his face. They took 27 kilos off him.
As we are climbing higher there are huge swaths of multi-coloured lupins…. Beautiful. Only other place I have seen them like that was in Nova Scotia.
At 971 meters high we stopped at Lindis Pass…. It is the highest highway pass in the country.
Arrived at Twizel….. not an exciting place let me tell you but tomorrow morning we are heading to Mt Cook which I think is relatively close.
Onto the bus at 7 for a bus ride to a boat then hike and another boat ride. It looks like a gorgeous sunny day….yeah! But then within a very short time, we were back to driving in fog. But then….one of our fellow travellers from Calgary checked the weather there. Egad, -24 but feels like -37 so I guess it isn’t too bad here.
We board a boat at Manapouri. Pointy mountain on the first lake was used in Lord of the Rings. This national park is huge… the size of Wales. One island all threats have been removed and the kiwis have been reintroduced.
We get off the first lake and get on another bus to go 21 kms to
Manapouri hydropower station… 1964-1972 completed and the 2002 2nd tail race tunnel completed…provides 4500 gigawatts of power… enough to power the South Island of New Zealand. Fiordland National Park is 1.2 hectares in size is a National Heritage site.
If you don’t have rain for 3 days here it is considered a drought. 400 types of mosses…. Spagnum mass can hold 25x it’s weight in water from when it’s dry. 25 litres of water in 1 kg of dry moss???
1 in 6 meter increase in elevation on this road. 671 meters high western side of southern alp can change 0-13 degree temperature from one side to other.
1 in 5 metres is steepest declining in southern hemisphere on downhill. 1 of 9 endangered bird species in world is in NZ. They’re hoping to have all pest killed by 2050 so you can help the government by running over over any rats or mice…,.. It rains 200 days year…. 7-10 metres rain per year. There are 2000 earthquakes a year in Fiordland. At Deep Cove we transfer from our bus to another boat.
Doubtful Sound is 40 kilometres long. It is absolutely spectacular!!!
No commercial fishing allowed.
Back on land on the bus at 5 pm and driving back to Queenstown for 7:30. It’s been a long day….. only 3500 steps.
Weather is not bad but not good enough for the skydivers to go out.
So many other activities cancelled but Brianna, Jess and I went up on the gondola but couldn’t see a thing up top….. it was socked in. Then the three of us went on Ziptrek, the steepest zip line in the world. It descend 30 storeys at speeds of up to 70kmh …. comprised of six lines.
On the road at 7:30 and wouldn’t you guess it, the sun is coming out! Such luck we have had weather-wise.
We wind our way through more of the magnificent Alps. I noticed the name identifying one of a creek’s name….”Hairpin Creek”…. That could apply to every corner every 100-150 feet.
We stopped to stretch our legs and view the Fox Glacier(it is bigger than Franz Josef) that is visible…. A rare thing apparently. It is gorgeous and sunny so we can see it. Stopping for another bit of a hike at Lake Matheson.
Ship Creek …. They found a portion of a ship in 1871 but could never find the other half til year later in…. In 1973. The other half was on the coast of Australia 2000kms away… it had drifted that far.
Haast Pass/ Otago National Park… world heritage….same status as Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef. It is believed to be what the earth was like when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. Great 2 lane highways but all bridges are one lane. You don’t see many bicycles in this country but we have seen a good number peddling up these mountain highways.
Stopped for photos at Lake Wanaka after we are all craning trying to take pictures as we are careening down the road. It certainly would not be good if you got car sick!
Wanaka …. Really very nice touristy town on the lake….. great in summer with water activities & great in winter for skiing.
Arrived at Queenstown. Deforested area is the gondola where the Ziplines and paragliding amongst other activities start. I think this is known as the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. It too is on a huge lake in the middle of the mountains.
As expected, today is a bust with nothing happening….. not interested in hiking in the rain, nor kayaking in the rain. Some did go kayaking, some took a shuttle to a viewpoint to see the glacier…. It was quite a distance away.
I walked over the “Franz Josef West Coast Wildlife Centre”. I saw a couple of 10 month old baby kiwis. We’re not allowed to take photos so sorry folks. Learned about the rarest of them, the rowi…. How so few of them in the wild survive attacks by dogs, rat, but mostly stoats that look like mink. Apparently a concerted effort is being made to capture and eradicate the stoats and other predators. I also read about glaciers and other animals some, like the Himalayan Tahr that have been introduced from other countries and are now becoming a problem.
Two nights in a row we went to a restaurant called Alice May’s …. Quite the story! The food was the best we’ve had. The decor was pretty interesting too.
As I am sure I mentioned, this is a rainforest…. Did I mention rain!
3742 steps…. Who wants to hike in the rain!!! ….6000 the day before and 6500 the day before that. It looks like we are running out of steam… yup!!!
As we head south, we drive up into the Southern Alps-beautiful…. Not unlike driving up the Malahat or other mountain areas in BC with windy 2 lane highways. Stopped for a short walk at Lewis Pass. Clouds hanging low…moss on the trees. Victoria Falls Park
Reefton… town of light. First electricity before NY and San Francisco. Hydro power plant.. old town…quaint.
Quite a number of trucks hauling ores of some sort. Cattle farms as we come into flatter areas. Saw aerial sprinklers for first time here.
Later we stopped at Hokitika….on the “wild west coast”, shopped for jade and abalone jewellery, food and sit by the beach… watched the crashing waves come in.
We arrive at Franz Josef in the rainforest, in the rain, in the low clouds with no promise that tomorrow will be any better. So probably no hell-hiking for some, helicopter ride to the glacier, etc. that J and I planned on and probably no skydiving for others.
Up at 4:30 this morning to be to the “Dolphin Encounter” by 5:10am. We had to don wet suits, wet jacket, wet helmet, flippers and goggles. What a procedure to get it all on. You would think that that beautiful turquoise ocean was warm… tropical…. NOT!!! Even with all that on it was cold. Anyway, we swam with the dusty dolphins….. hundreds and hundreds. So cool! They are about my height in length. They were close…. not quite touching but about 3’ away from me. The ocean had quite a swell on it…. some didn’t do so well especially since we weren’t able to have coffee and breaky before.
After another drive we arrive in Hanmer Springs where there are a large number of wonderful geothermal pools that we soaked in. Sorry but I didn’t take any pictures. It would be a great place to go for a “mini”vacation.
Looks like another gorgeous day…. Yeah! We are at the lobby by 6:45, meet our new CEO Hayden (AKA… Chilli) transferred to airport, leaving the ground at 8:45 without a hitch. That’s a good sign.
Overcast in Christchurch, got our bus and on the road by 10:35.
We stopped at a winery along the way
The way. “Kiss of the devil”… cassis, tequila ice, ginger beer, lime juice
Stopped for lunch in a 2nd town…. Like so many places at home, the first one didn’t survive COVID so we had to move onto another town.
After that we drove through quite a tree covered mountainous region….. like home. And then to the coastline. Beautiful! Then some people saw dolphins in the water. There’s still road work being done on the highway ….the repair after damage caused by 7.8 earthquake a few years ago.
Arrived at Kaikoura … the water… a brilliant turquoise blue with white crashing waves….. really quite windy. After taking our stuff to the room, a number of us went to find the fur seals. And that we did….. along with some nesting hills that quite ticked off that we were near their young. The group of seals had a baby and ten a couple of the adults had a fight…..or maybe it was foreplay.