Saturday, August 6, 2016

New Zealand Finale

Well, after being stunned by the amazing sights of New Zealand's South Island, it was time to head back to Christchurch and star the long journey home. I still had a day of driving ahead of me, and figured there was no time to see any last bits or pieces, and I hit the road. I skipped thrill-seeking, there's be no bungee jump on this trip, my last adventure was one night in Christchurch on my friend's sofa so I could slip out in the middle of the night and get back to the airport. 

But first, the journey from Queenstown to Christchurch....

The views from the road were so amazing. As I passed this waterfall and river, I had to stop for a short hike. It was very rewarding. I'm often short on time when I'm driving on road trips, but I still try to make time to actually soak in some of the atmosphere by leaving the car.

It was totally worth the stop!

I came across some incredibly picturesque, peaceful looking little towns. New Zealand is a wonderful place to visit, I can imagine it must be equally awesome to live here.

The color of this alpine lake was just arresting.

This was definitely another place I'd have to get a closer look. 

This is nature at its most spectacular. I can't express how pleased I was to not have this view spoiled by pollution, trash or advertising.

Well, I still had places to be. It was time to get moving again. 

The mountains - the Southern Alps - were fading into the background, but they'd left an indelible imprint on my consciousness.

The scenery, still pretty, was fading from staggering to bucolic.

And the sheep were on the horizon...

Did I mention I saw a few sheep?

Civilization was approaching.

My eyelids were heavy from a long day of driving, and I stopped in a parking lot for a short nap. This fish was there to greet me.

Last photo from the road as I headed back into Christchurch. The flight out the next day departed at a brutal 4:30 am or so.... but I got some last beautiful shots of New Zealand.

New Zealand simply does not disappoint. And I love those little lambs.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Zealand - Queenstown

Queenstown is an amazing place for lovers of adventure. You can find an incredible array of activities there along with staggeringly gorgeous scenery. I'd highly recommend this destination to anyone.

Of course I can't stay put for long, so after arriving in Queenstown I was planning to rest for the night and head out on a road trip to Milford Sound the next day, a legendary place that has been called the eighth world wonder and won world's best destination in a 2008 TripAdvisor survey. I had to get there first.

I'll digress for a moment to tell you a bit more about that night's rest. When I'm overseas, I like to sample the local grocery stores and markets. It can really give one a great sense of the vibe and feel of a location. Another thing that can be a lot of fun while telling you quite a bit about the culture you're visiting, is to watch some local TV. That night I'd taken some in; I find I often get reminders when I'm in other countries of how good, or how bad, we have it in the states.

Anyway, back to the beautiful scenery...

There were just so many places to pull off the road for pictures.

This is the world at its most incredible and awe-inspiring.

it wasn't long before I lost the lovely blue sky. As I approached a long tunnel, the clouds were moving in. There were lots of waterfalls in this area though, so I pulled off for a bit.

There was a kea bird strutting around the parking lot.

Did I mention that the bird was quite friendly? Please don't be jerks, people, like the European family I saw feeding these poor things.

Tunnel time, then I had to get out and stretch my legs at a hike I saw by the road.


Water rushes through hear (making quite a roar!) and it has created these really cool rock formations.

This was an awesome and pretty easy hike.

Unfortunately, when I arrived in Milford Sound, it was blanketed in clouds.

Still amazing, but maybe not quite as jaw-dropping as I hoped.

I hiked around, and opted to cut my losses and skip a boat ride. I may return here one day, after all.

The boat in the scene above gives some sense of scale.

On the drive back, the clouds parted once again. It left me wondering if I should turn around... 

I pressed on instead, back to have a look around Queenstown. I try to see as much as I can, and often that means the trips feel too short. But I have no regrets about what I did; I'm thrilled to have been where I went and wouldn't do it differently.

There was still so much beauty to soak in.

And what a drive this was! Thrilling and great quality roads.

Back in town, folks were enjoying the sun and sand.

It's a lively area, and still so picturesque. 

I walked around and had a look at some shops, grabbed some food, and got one last rest before I had to return to Christchurch. It wouldn't be long before I began the long flight home.

= center