Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand

Have I mentioned the mountains.. wait no the lakes.. no I’m sorry, the coast and the beaches, nope nope… must be the waterfalls.  I just can’t seem to make up my mind on what is the most amazing sight here in this land of hobbits.  I swear I saw Gandalf and Stryder riding across a mountain top this afternoon!

Since last we met, I’ve managed to hook up with a contingent of Irish school teachers and an English IT mate.  We all met on the glacier in Franz Joseph and then hung out late at the monsoon cafe at the lodge I was staying at.  All in all a very fun crowd except for the anoying tree huger environmentalist that kept telling me that all american cars were crap and we were destroying the universe becuase she drove an underpowerd mustang rental and was trying to compare it to a porche!  But anyway.  It turns out they were all headed down the coast to Queenstown, the center of all adventure activities on the south island.  I originally wasn’t intending to stop there but then they all convinced me to stop there and not push so hard to get to Milford Sound last night.  It turned out to be a great decision.
 
The liesurely drive down the coast started with a view of the Fox Glacier and then quickly turned to GEOGROUS coastal blufs and beaches with snow peaked mountains in the backdrop. From there its back up the 180 degree switchbacks through Haast pass.  Frozen waterfalls, sheer clif faces, sunlit peaks .. around EVERY corner!

Dropping out of Haast and coming into Queenstown you enter some plains and you see sheep flocks everywhere.  I finally get to the YHA (youth hostel) in Queenstown and I can’t get a hold of anyone to see what the plan for hanging out was later.  Long story short, I ended up getting fed by Janise and her son Nick who had tons of leftovers they were trying to get rid of before they left.  You cook your own meals in hostels most of the time.  Unless your me and then people often offer you food for looking pathetic 😉
 
So when Janice’s son went off to the bar to party it down, she and I went off to grab a drink and hang out.  She is a fascinating lady who has traveled the globe with her husband and kids.  Quite an interesting Aussie to talk to.  Finally the rest of the crowd finds me and then it was out late again with a few beverages and even some shaking of the booty down by the boat house.

This morning, I woke a little later than usual 8:15 and headed out for Milford Sound, the plan being to kayak for 5 hours tomorrow morning then head back to Queenstown to relax for the night. I’m moving my flight to Auckland and only spending one short evening there as it turns out there is massive flooding in the areas north of queenstown that I wanted to visit so no real reason to go up there now. I’m staying the extra day down here to make my drive today very slow and add lots of short walks.  Like the one to the water falls, and the chasm and the grave of the dude from 1888.

Today it dawned on me that I might enjoy some of the sights more if I had music to keep me company.  so with the MP3 player in my ears, my drive and experience today was put to a sound track.. some Pass the Peas, Mac the Knife, Margaritaville.. an ecletic soundtrack but it really helped to keep the spirits up when you’re seeing awesome stuff and don’t have someone right there to share it with.  Don’t know why I didn’t think of that days ago!

Finally arrive at the hostel here in Milford Sound, the ONLY lodging.  three buildings here really.  The power goes off site wide at 11pm as they run on generator so I have to get this done.  Thier internet here doesn’t allow me to upload photos so you will have to wait for those until tomorrow.  Which is good since I have taken LOTS and LOTS and LOTS and LOTS.. (you get the picture) of photos.  I’ll have to sort a bit to get some of the best for you.

Tomorrow, I kayak the Milford Sound.  Its about 40 degrees here right now with a high tomorrow projected at around 52 with sun so it should be a nice day for being on the water!

I’m starting to look forward to a couple days in the warm sands of Cairns, Australia though.  I’m sure I’ll be begging for this weather once I get back to Bangkok though 🙂

So I’m behind on facts so here are several for you to work on:

1)  The Franz Joseph and the Fox Glaciers are two of only three glaciers in the world that descend into rain forests, the third is in Pategonia in South America.  I have been on two of the three now.

2)  The Franz Jospeh glacier is advancing at a rate of 1 meter per day

3)  The Kea is the only alpine parrot in the world and is only found in the mountain regions of the southern island of New Zealand.I’m sure I’ll have more tomorrow.. off to get some grub!

 Bill
 

Pictures & Video

Ahhh.. the coastal majesty!

 

Ahhh.. the coastal majesty!

 

Alpine lake

Mountain Majesty

Getting kind of frosty!

Getting kind of frosty!