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Vacation! June and Carl hit their sabbatical at Intel, and decided to head to New Zealand
(and Australia, and the Cook Islands). So, Kari and I hopped on the bandwagon to join them.
We left in the middle of February, and had an overnight stopover in Tahiti. It was beautiful, but hot and muggy there. The view from our hotel...
Strangely enough, our room had a window... into the shower?!?
A nice, peaceful garden at the Tahiti airport.
Next stop was another overnight, in Aukland. The sky-tower from the top, and the bottom.
And, the beginning of the crazy things you can do in New Zealand... free fall from the sky tower.
Finally, we got to Queenstown. A cool little town with lots of shops and restaurants.
We stayed at Thomas' Hostel, right on the water in the middle of town.
And, the town is surrounded by a lake, mountains, and tons of stuff to do.
The normal hiking, biking, boating, etc. as well as bungee jumping, paragliding,
jet-boating, canyoning... the list goes on.
Here's a view from a hill overlooking the town. Beautiful!
At the top of the hill was a luge track... fun!
The next day... river surfing! You get a wetsuit and boogie board (and stylish helmets!), and hit the rapids. Good fun!
We headed out of town for the Milford Track. The countryside of the south island is huge,
with few people. The highways are 2-lane roads, and you're never far from fields full of sheep!
Here's Te Anau Downs wharf, and some of our fellow trampers. There was also a guided tramp
leaving at the same time, hence the box of food!
The boat ride to the start of the trek... not too bad.
The first day was a easy, 3 mile stroll to a hut. The view from there...
The huts were great! Here on the right was the common room, complete with gas stoves, (probably) potable water, and lights! There were also 2 bunk rooms with matresses.
On the first day, we also passed by one of the guided tramp huts. Talk about plush! They had seperate bedrooms, sheets, all food cooked for them, etc, etc. And, for only $1700 :O
The second day was a nice 10 mile hike, climbing about 1000 ft. The scenery was amazing! We hiked up a huge valley, with waterfalls everywhere.
Inside the second night's hut. We were with the same people each night, so started to get to know all the interesting folks on the Tramp. Including which people snored, and who got up early!
The third day was hard... it started with a 1500 ft climb to the top of the pass, and then dropped 3000 ft to the next hut! Hard on the knees.
Here we are at the top. Note the great view!
On the west side of the pass, we dropped into rainforest. Great, lush forst, and beautiful waterfalls!
Outside the third night's hut, an early start to beat the rain!
It was a 11 mile hike out, but mostly flat. Still, knees were sore from the descent the day before. We were treated to more amazing views, and lot of swing bridges! Here is one of the big ones.
And the view up and down the river!
A couple more beautiful waterfalls and views, and we were at the end.
We had arranged to kayak back across the Milford sound at the end. Simply amazing!
After a missed bus, chase in a minivan, dead battery, and race back to get our bags,
we had made it back to Queenstown.
We stayed in town the next day to recouperate, with a trip out to do a canyon swing. This was a 330ft rope suspended over a canyon. You fell (or jumped) off a platform, and the rope swung you out over the river. What a rush!
Carl and I each jumped twice. The first time backwards...
And the second time hanging upside down!
Here's a girl with us that said she wanted to be scared. So, they threw her off with a bucket over her head!
June and Carl were staying around Queenstown longer, so Kari and I headed up the west coast
of the south island. We were treated to amazing beauty, and constantly changing terrain!
We rolled into Franz Joseph, at the foot of a glacier. In our search for internet, we found this...
The next day, we took a helicopter ride up to the glacier! They set us down on the glacier with a guide, and we hiked around for a couple hours before being picked back up.
Some views on the way up...
And Franz Joseph town...
On the way up the west coast... Ross!
We took a hike up the Fox River... and found that for most of the time, the river was the trail!
The sun came out, and made it a beautiful day!
We ended up at the Ballroom Overhang, which would be a great place to camp.
I took a couple side trips. The first up Dilemma Creek. The constant dilemma... where do I cross this time?!?
And the Fox River Caves... a little creepy on your own.
Next stop... Nelson on the north coast. We took a day off around town,
with a personal tour of Mac's Brewery.
We then headed out for a kayak trip into Abel Tasman NP. We rented a double kayak, loaded up everything, and headed out.
Lunch on the beach... with the requisite box of wine!
Our beach. There were campsites in the trees behind the beach, with NO sandflies!
A beautiful evening trip into a flooded bay. At low tide, there's a hiking path right where we're sitting!
Kari had to fly back to Portland, and I headed to the north island. I drove up to a a town
near Tongariro (where they filmed Mordor in the Lord of the Rings films). The weather wasn't
cooperating for a hike, so I went out in search of climbing. This is what I found out in the
middle of nowhere... hundreds of boulders in a cow pasture. There was great climbing, and only
a guy from Britain and myself there to take advantage of it!
The next day the weather was better, so I headed up to do the Tongariro crossing. I climbed up the side of the volcano into the clouds, and through 3 of its craters! The wind was blowing hard at the top, and it was a surreal landscape!
The clouds were playing on the top of the mountain... some cool shots.
I spent a couple hours hanging out on the porch of a hut on the way down. A helicopter came up to resupply. The NZ Dept of Conservation (who takes care of all the wilderness and parks) is great!
Some hot springs on the way down...
The next day I went caving at Waitomo! Incredibly fun! A 100m (320ft) abseil down into a cave,
followed by 4 hours of climbing, swimming, and crawling to get out.
Finally, before flying back home, I spent a day surfing at a beach on the west coast of the north island. Beautiful!
Copyright 2005, Ross Segelken