Monday, December 26, 2016

South Island - A Natural Wonder

Over the past few days, we’ve driven nearly 1000km around the South island of New Zealand. This includes stops in Queenstown, Te Anau, Franz Josef Glacier, and Greymouth. The natural beauty of this country is unbelievable. Throughout the drive, the scenery is ever changing. You can be in the valley one hour and back in the mountains the next after the twists and turns of the ridgeline highway. From the lush green forestry of the national parks to the crystal clear blue water of the Milford Sound, every color is vibrant. And all the wildlife, including cattle, sheep, birds, flora and fauna are alive and well in their respective habitats. The different types of trees and rocks or land formations are stunning in their grandeur yet delicate in their embrace of the land around it. New Zealand is best left in this state so that mankind can appreciate the wonder of nature intact and unharmed.

Our journey around the South island allowed us to explore the mountain towns, glacial fjords, hot springs, and scenic coastline. I constantly marveled at the landscapes that swallowed our tiny vehicle rolling along the roads as if a tram car in Jurassic Park. And the air you breathe is so crisp and cool in the morning and late evenings, while comfortable and clean during the daylight waking hours. The feeling you get is of good health. Take a deep breath.

And just like that our time here is over. Our immersion in true nature is paused for now.  But one day, I hope to return. And I pray that the situation I leave is similar to what I come back to.

The valley floor in Fiordland National Park

Wild flowers

The dense forestry of New Zealand's South Island

Our tour boat with Southern Discoveries, the Lady Bowen

Traveling through the fjords. Milford Sound is a misnomer. 

Another vessel dwarfed by the surrounding mountains and glaciers

A temporary waterfall due to the amount of rainfall we received the night prior

It looks tiny relative to its surroundings

But the water flow is powerful

Where the Tasman Sea meets the Milford Sound. The seas were rough at the mouth of the Sound so we were unable to venture any further. 

Queenstown is the jump-off for many adventure sports. Parasailing pictured here. 

Jet Boating (KJet)

The view of the valley leaving Queenstown towards Franz Josef and Greymouth

The long and winding road is (Route 6) is the roadway from Queenstown to the West Coast of the South Island

As we near the month’s end, we are looking forward to setting foot on our 7th Continent. We depart for Melbourne, Australia out of Christchurch, New Zealand on 27 December.

This writing takes places as we traverse New Zealand from West to East on the TranzAlpine route on one of KiwiRail’s scenic journeys from Greymouth to Christchurch on the South island. This 4 hour journey takes us through hills, valleys, and mountains with plenty of history. What an amazing ride so far!

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