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Posts Tagged ‘Scenic Drives’

When we last left you, it was Easter, and we spent a wonderful day on the mystical Doubtful Sound. We left the next day and headed to Queenstown for a few days, just enjoying being in a city again, both of us taking an adrenaline fueled “swing” over a canyon and river, and me taking a plunge off the third highest bungee jump in the world, at 440 feet high.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself though. On our first night in Queenstown, we stumbled upon an Irish pub and decided to go in for a much needed Guinness, as I had only had a few since we left the US in October. Well, one drink turned into about six hours at the pub, but luckily for us some good came out of it, other than the nice buzz we had when leaving.

We met a good amount of people there, including a college student from St. Louis of all places, who was there with her parents who came to New Zealand to visit her while she is studying abroad. It was nice to be in a bar talking Cardinal baseball and home in general.  But we were also lucky enough to chat with several locals, who told us that we HAD to take a drive to the nearby town of Glenorchy the following day.

Since we had already booked our Nevis Swing and my bungee jump for two days after, we had a day to burn, and the forecast was for warm weather and sunny skies. After taking a trip to the information office the following morning, (side note: there are these things called Isites that are dotted everywhere in New Zealand; basically they are information centers that have people working in them, free pamphlets, and just a wealth of information about whatever area they are in, absolutely fantastic and completely free) the workers stressed what a beautiful drive Glenorchy was and strongly urged us to go.

With all the local advice, we figured we better take advantage of the beautiful day and take the short 45 kilometer drive along Lake Wakatipu to the small town of Glenorchy. Luckily it did not disappoint. The drive was through windy and narrow-laned roads along the lake, and although it was only about 27 miles, it took us close to two hours because we stopped constantly to take in the views and snap photos. The guys we met the previous night spoke of the “Million dollar view”, saying it was unsigned, on the left, and we would know it when we saw it. They spoke the truth.

After arriving in Glenorchy, we took a short hike around the lake on boardwalks, taking us to small, mirror-like ponds with gorgeous snow-capped mountains in the background. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and was quite relaxing before the following day of swinging over canyons and jumping off a gondola with a giant rubber band attached to my ankles.

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Best view ever?

Best view ever?

When we last left you, the weather was not cooperating with us and had hindered our first few day aboard Asteroid (the name of our Spaceship, emblazoned on the side).  However, summoning the Pachamama from our time in South America seemed to do the trick because the next two days were absolutely gorgeous, and the scenery was something out of a fairytale.

Unfortunately the internet here in New Zealand is abysmal and expensive, so updating and loading pictures is going to be a challenge while we’re here, which means we will most likely be frequently behind on the blog (not to mention the fact that there is just so much to do, whenever we do have a connection the last thing we want to do is sit on the computer).  We’re writing and going through pictures as we go along, but we’re just not able to post, so you may get a flurry of posts at once, but rest assured we will keep up the good storytelling format and keep everything in chronological order.  Some posts just may be a bit old.

Enough with that though.  After getting Asteroid in Christchurch and spending a wet night in Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, we started heading south.   We spent much of the next day just driving on the Inland Scenic Route, which is hands down the most beautiful afternoon of driving in my 30+ years on Earth.  As you’ll see in the pictures below (all the ones labeled “Inland Scenic Road), the stark contrast of bright green grass, dark green forest, and huge, rocky, snow covered mountains created a unique landscape that is just not seen in very many places in the world.  If this country wasn’t so damn far on the other side of the world, I would start looking for places to live and move here immediately.  But until a teleporter is invented, I will settle for our month here and just vow to return (I seem to have said that about many places we’ve visited).

Even though there are outdoor activities aplenty here in New Zealand, we both talked about how we could just spend our 35 days here just driving.  The fact that neither of us had driven since October, coupled with the fact that we love road trips, and adding the “Oh My God’s” around every turn, it would not be out of the question if we did decide to do this.

We checked in to the “Top 10 Holiday Park” campsite (these things are great and are everywhere around New Zealand; they have huge kitchens, super hot showers, sparklingly clean bathrooms, pools, and beautiful campsites) for the night, cooked a really nice dinner outside Asteroid for the first time, watched Lost that we had downloaded in LA last week, and called it a night.

With it getting dark at about 6:30, there being nothing to do at the campsite once arriving, and the frigid temperatures, bedtime comes early in Asteroid.  We were both wide awake a little after 6am, and we decided to get on the road early and actually do a bit of hiking.  We decided to keep heading south, eventually making our way to Te Anau in the southwestern part of the South Island.  Since we got on the road so early, we were able to make a side trip to Aoraki (the Maori name of a famous New Zealand peak, but like nearly everything in this region of the world, it’s also  named Mount Cook after the famous Captain James Cook).

This trip has definitely spoiled us to a certain extent, as evidenced by what I’m about to type.  This drive, though beautiful, just didn’t have quite the same pizzazz as the previous day (please don‘t take this as a lack of appreciation because I assure you we both enjoyed the hell out of it).  The further south we got, the more bright green we lost (which I have discovered is my personal favorite).  We did get closer to the mountains, and lakes started popping up left and right, which was similar to certain parts of Patagonia.

We drove past a few different lakes, one of which we spanned the length of while going to Aoraki.  We had seen Aoraki looming in the distance for most of the day, and it was pretty cool to see it getting bigger and bigger  as we approached.  We arrived and did a short few hour hike to a lake and small glacier at the foot of the mountain, then headed back on the road and found a free campsite to crash out for the night.

The quickest way for us to keep updating is to load a gallery of pictures at once.  I know it’s not as aesthetically appealing (oh, who am I kidding, who doesn’t like pictures to along with words?), but this will probably be the format of most New Zealand posts  (we have more pics, but this is going to have to do for now).

The next day (which was the Saturday before Easter, a HUGE holiday weekend in New Zealand, much like Labor Day in the US where loads of people have long weekends, with Monday off, and head off one more time before winter comes) we continued on south to Te Anau.  Te Anau is Fiordland territory, jumping off point for trips into Doubtful Sounds and the more famous Milford Sounds.  The Milford Track (which we are not doing) is said to be among the finest multiday hikes in the world.  After all the trekking in South America and the somewhat limited time we have here with all there is to see, we decided to forego the five day trek and settle for a boat cruise around Doubtful Sound, which was absolutely breathtaking and will be the topic of our next post.

We are currently in Queenstown, which is the adventure/extreme sport capital of the world.  I am braving one of the highest  bungee jumps in the world tomorrow, leaping from about 440 feet above a river.  My wife is a bit smarter than I and will only be a spectator.  We have tons more to tell you and write about, but this will have to do for now.

Until then…

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