01.02.2010 - 01.05.2010 0 °F
Before heading to Queenstown, we had some severe rain that washed out part of the road just south of Fox Glacier. After a few drizzly, overcast days, I was beginning to think it would be raining the rest of our trip. The one thing NZ taught us is to sightsee in the moment while the weather is good because it can change very quickly if you wait too long. Don’t get me wrong, the scenery is still stunning rain or shine, but much better when you aren’t dealing with the elements. In certain places those postcard pictures are hard to come by unless you are willing to wait and wait.
We were finally able to leave the glacier area and a few hours down the coast the sun appeared and the scenery changed from lush greenery to snow capped mountains and deep river gorges. We crossed the Southern Alps over Haast Pass following the winding road between two of the most beautiful mountain lakes we’ve ever seen. Every lake and coastal water is a different shade of blue and pictures don’t ever really capture the colors very well.
We spent three days wondering around Queenstown. Queenstown sits on Lake Wakatipu surrounded by the Remarkables mountain range. It is the heart of tourism and adventure sports in the South Island where bungy jumping was invented. Our adventure was white-water rafting the Shotover River. The excitement was passing through a series of six class IV rapids(Miners, Squeeze, Anvil, Toilet, Oh Shit & Pinball) and going through a dark mine shaft before flipping our raft on the last rapid. Flipping would’ve been so bad, but I was landed on by another as I struggled to get out from under the raft. Meanwhile, Brett was already several feet away in full crawl stroke before the raft flipped… it figures. The scariest part of the trip was the death-defying drive down Skippers Canyon Road to get to river. It’s one of only two roads in New Zealand where car insurance is void. The only thing I could think of was Bolivia’s Death Road. Scary.
Next, we drove south four hours to Fiordland National Park. Fiordland had the most dramatic scenery of everything we’d seen so far with rugged, glacier-carved mountains, dense beech forests, and waterfalls like lightning streaking down the mountain sides for several hundred feet or more. We stayed two nights overlooking Lake Te Anau and took a day cruise through Milford Sound. Milford South is ten miles long surrounded by 4,000 feet sheer rock walls. It was rainy and fogging much of the time we were down there, but it only added to the mystique of the area. Milford Sound receives an average of 280 inches of rain a year, so it was just a typical day and the rain only made the waterfalls more spectacular.
Drive down to Queenstown
Glenorchy- picturesque town where much of the surrounding area was used in Lord of the Rings
View of Queenstown
Te Anau- views from our room
Other guests at the B&B
Birds of Fiordland
This sad little bird was molting, but the expression was too funny not to post