for anyone actually reading this, my photos for the last two days are being sent to me- got separated from my card at some point. They will be up shortly. thanks for reading!
Spent the morning hours of today walking around Christchurch and stopping in at the Beat Street Cafe for one, final meat pie. Its been quite the ride in New Zealand for the last 3 weeks. We’ve had an awesome time filled with memories that I will surely never forget. Experiencing New Zealand has been life changing for me and has caused me to re-prioritize a lot of the things in my life – a very frightening and yet exciting change for me at this stage of the game. As happy of a person as I am when I’m at home, I think New Zealand moves at a pace which works better for me. I’m not necessarily considering moving here one day, but I will certainly return.
Kia Ora, Kiwi Country!
Started our last day in New Zealand today by checking out a sheep station and learning some thing about sheep from Don. Not a baaaaaahhhd way of starting the day.
The day was spent traveling to Christchurch, which has been left as a shell of what it once was after the massive earthquake which nearly leveled it last year. While we were there, we saw a lot of construction still going on, including a building which we watched getting demolished for a while.
On the way to Christchurch, we stopped at the Tekapo B Power Station to take some pictures, which will follow. The Tekapo B Station was originally owned by Meridian Energy, but was recently sold to Genesis to that they would own some of the Hydro power on the South island. The rest still belongs to Meridian.
Home tomorrow, I guess…
07 Slice of Heaven
Before making his world renowned ascent of Mt. Everest, Sir Edmund Hilary climbed to the top of Aoraki/Mt. Cook, a climb which has claimed many lives. Following his bravery and drive, we, a small team of Union students faced up at the mountain today, before turning and walking the length of Hookers Valley, just to the left, along the base of the mountain.
We stopped at the Hermitage after our hike through Hookers Valley. While there, we had a nice lunch followed by a chance to look at some of the history of Mt. Cook. My favorite exhibit was the one about Sir Edmund Hilary, the first man to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest. The things Sir Edmund Hilary went through in his life and the work and determination he had and put in was awe inspiring.
After a nice, relaxing free afternoon by the lake, we returned to the Hermitage for our final farewell dinner. Leaving dinner with stomachs full of food and drink, we returned to Glentanner and a pack of us walked down to the lake one last time to walk off dinner and a bit of nostalgia. It sure has been a trip.
Tomorrow we have one last day of traveling around New Zealand and then it’s back to the good ol’ U S of A!
Gonna be a long day today. A very long day.
After hitting the road, we stopped briefly at a fruit stand- a great place for the freshest fruit in New Zealand. The owners of the shop are very friendly to your bus drivers- each one that comes in gets a bag of anything they want, really. They don’t let them pay for anything- probably because they bring the tourists by the thousands.
While pulling away from Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, Don told us the story of how the lake was formed. A long, long time ago (not in a galaxy far, far away…) there was a tribe of Maori living where Wakatipu is now. There was a family living in that village and the daughter of that family was essentially the “cat’s meow” of the village. Her name was Matau. All of the suitors in the village would try to gain her father’s approval to take her hand in marriage, but he would turn all of them down. It wasn’t until one day, a monster came down from the mountains- the “Tanifa.” The Tanifa was a gigantic, humanoid creature who was planning on eating Matau and took her back to his cave. Matau’s father told the suitors of the village that whoever could save Matau from the Tanifa could marry her. One man, who’s name escapes me, journeyed after the monster and after a struggle, set the Tanifa on fire. The Tanifa ran down the mountain and fell, his body ablaze, melting the snow from the mountains and burning a massive, human shaped hole in the ground, creating Lake Wakatipu, which is, in fact, shaped like a man.
Made a few stops at different hydro stations along the Clutha River and did some learning about the power scheme. Ended up at Glentanner Centre, an awesome place in the middle of nature, where we were treated to an excellent dinner of breakfast and mac and cheese. Check the gallery for some sweet photos.
Climbed to the Ben Lomond summit, sat on the beach, biked the coastline and now I’m on a Pub Crawl.
Pictures to follow. (not of the Pub Crawl).
…that’s really it for today.
UPDATE: Met some very nice people from Auckland on the pub crawl. Queenstown is a surprisingly large local tourist attraction as well.
DOUBLE UPDATE: I’ve found a new love for hiking- coming down from the Ben Lomond trail was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. I’ve got some great photos to come.
Long day of traveling ahead, letsgo!
First stop of the day is a nice 8AM hike up Fox Glacier. Great warmup for the day and the scenery was amazing. Just like Franz Josef Glacier, Fox is melting at a very fast pace.
Today we met several rival tour busses on the road to Queenstown. We are clearly the alpha bus, Don being the champion driver and the best story teller this side of the north island.
Not too much to write about today, mainly things to see. I’m going to miss this lifestyle dearly when I return to the states- there’s something about constant travel which I never really gave credit- its some of the most fun I’ve ever had. I like not being connected to a center point that I’m obligated to return too. Yo ho- a travelers life for me!
Today we made our first stop at Truman Beach, a tiny beach about a 15 minute walk off of the main road. Though swimming is dangerous at Truman, due to its strong currents an rocky waters, it is famous for its beautiful scenery and even more so for its Green Stone- jade stones which was ashore along the coastline of Truman beach. We spent a little under an hour combing the beach for the little stones.
Up next was the Pancake Rocks at punakaiki. The rocks are one of New Zealand’s great natural mysteries. While the whole area is known for being a vibrant display of water erosion, no one knows how the rocks came to be stacked atop one another- like a stack of pancakes.
Hiking Franz Joseph Glacier. Only place in the world where a glacier ends in rain forest. The Glacier was a very nice walk. There was about a 10 degree temperature difference between the bottom and the top. It was interesting and also alarming to see the difference between where the glacier used to end and how far back it has melted to. Professor Jewell explained that the point to which we were able to walk to (easily a good 2-300 meters from the base of the glacier) used to be right at its foot. Professor Klein even noted how the barriers are staked into the ground- they’re very loosely placed because of the amount it can change in a very short period of time.
After returning to Franz Josef, we had dinner at one of the two restaurants in town, where I had the best dinner of the trip. Lamb Shanks and mashed potatoes. I was in heaven. The meat was basically melting off the bone.
After dinner, we took a quick night walk to see the glow worms. While we saw a ton of them, it was way too dark to get any solid pictures, but trust me. They were cool. I promise.
Not a specifically eventful day today in terms of things to write about, but lots of photos of our travels. Today we departed the north island and made the transition to the second half of our journey here on Middle Earth. We left Nomads Capital at 7AM and boarded a ferry to the South Island. The ferry ride was awesome. The scenery between the north and south islands is beautiful and thankfully, it was clear enough out to see this early in the day. Later on, when we stopped for lunch in Picton, it would get a bit rainier out.
As I said, we stopped in Picton for lunch, where it started raining. This was when Don explained to us that it was strange that we had been blessed with nice weather up until this point since we had been on the North island, historically a rainier place than the south. The south island is known for being dryer, which is also strange, since the south island is also the center of hydroelectricity in New Zealand.
After a nice stop for Fish and Chips in Picton, we continued our journey to Westport (aka “the middle of no where.” Staying in somewhat remote housing, Lucas, Danny, and myself found ourselves in a cozy, 3-bed (1 bunk, 1 not) room.
Before dinner, we went on a quick trip to Cape Foulwind, named by Captain Cook, after the smell of the foul winds which engulf it. Cape Foulwind is also the home of the Seal Colony, but unfortunately there were very few to be seen. In terms of other wildlife, we also came across a number of “weka” birds.
Spent the rest of the night catching up on a few journal entries.