Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First week in NZ

Blogcasting live from Queenstown, NZ, internet cafe.  noon here.  currently loading pics from D90 to picasa web album, only that sd card is working at the moment.  Pics of the Kiwi Bird Park in qt.  All pics of backpacking trip were taken with p/s and card is not working now!  But the pics seem safe on the card, just won't download, so I won't be able to see them until I get home and can recover them.

Great trip so far.  the flights were all on time for our group and set out for Te Anau where we spent the night at a very nice backpackers lodge on the lake.  left our cars at the lodge and walked to the ferry that took us north up the lake to the beginning of the Milford Track.  Boat ride was georgous and great weathe with mild wind and deep blue skys.  The locals drink directly from the lake without treating it and are very proud of it. 

First day on the Milford Track was 3 miles through nice hardwood forest with ferns blanketing the ground.  All nights stayed in huts with running water! propane cookers and wood fireplace in common area.  nice group of mostly europeans hiked with us all 3 days. 

Second day on milford was 11 miles, through valley with waterfalls off 2000' cliffs either side.  I set out at 7am to beat the crowd and see birds, which I was greatly rewarded.  Birds here in the wild are very trusting of people and curious.  Don't fly away like they do back home so you can get a good look at them.  Tom saw a rare blue duck and got it on video. 

Third day was the rain and wind and McKinnon pass was a blistry storm, challenging but fun to conquer (no spell check on the computer!)    1500' up, 3000' down, very steep.  Everyone in our group did well and no injuries (can't say the same for the other hikers on the trail that day staying in our hut!).  Tom and I did the side hike to Sutherland Falls and it was well worth the trip, the highest falls in NZ.  Another 12 miles for this day.  Feet are sore by the point but feeling good.

Forth day was the time buster.  11 miles, and needed to catch the ferry from Sandfly point to town of Milford where we had a cruise scheduled around Milford Sound.  Rain let up by then, and the hiking was a bit hotter, bugs a bit more bite-e-r, but good day of hiking overall.  Set out at 7:30am, and once we were a few miles out we slowed our pace so we would  not have to hang out too long at Sandfly Point (aptly named).  But it turned out the wind was good at the point and no sandflies.  Got our pic taken at the famous 'completion' sign. 

Cruise around Milford Sound was nice, wonderful weather, nice to sit for a change and rest your feet while taking in scenery.

Last few days in Queenstown have been relaxing.  Tom and I have our own room here in the hostel, primitive but comfortable, quiet with earplugs.  Visited the birdpark and saw a kiwi and a lot of other birds I saw on the milford track.  Learned about Maori life.  Nicely constructed park, well worth the time and money. 

Tom is currently on the Shotover Jetboat (I was not interested), I will be exploring the gardens and hiking around the lake here in QT.  Tomorrow is Arrowtown, Wanaka, and wine country. 


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