Land of the Long White Cloud Part 3: The Return of the Team — New Zealand
March 11, 2016
It had been nine days since we first set off for New Zealand. Normally we would be at least on our way home, if not already settled in back at the office by now. But we had only reached the final stretch of our Journey. Queenstown. That wholly mecca of world travelers.
But first, we scheduled to make a quick one day stop in Fijordland at a magical place called Milford Sound.
I mentioned in my previous post that the thing that really separates New Zealand from other mountainous locations is how the mountains pretty much shoot up the entirety of their elevation right before your very eyes. Being an island, you don’t get too far above sea level before the mountains kick off.
In Fijordland the mountainous landscape literally takes off from sea level. On the drive to the sound it feels as though you’re navigating through giants as you wind through tunnels and valleys dominated by peaks looming higher than you can strain your neck up to see.
On the coast, the peaks rise up from the ocean like sea monsters, water still dripping from their faces in the form of waterfalls that seemingly come from nowhere in particular. When you’re there, you understand why it made National Geographic’s 100 most beautiful places in the world.
I mean, this was the view from our back patio for crying out loud!!
Hiking shmiking, who needs to leave the hotel?
Unless you want to go to key summit, which actually is quite a bit of hiking. But its worth it.
Probably my favorite part of the drive, maybe the whole trip, was the Kea birds. Ah the Kea birds.
After marveling at the monsters of Milford for a day, it was off to the final location, the Queenstown/Wanaka area.
The braided rivers winding through Rees Valley.
Queenstown is one of the major world hubs for backpackers and travelers. They call it a “lifestyle” town. They’ve got about every possible outdoor activity you can think of. From your various water sports, to the various snow sports, hiking and climbing, skydiving, bungee jumping, paragluiding, jet boats through the braided rivers — you name it, you can do it.
But the quaint mountain town is developed just enough that there is plenty of night life, or day life if your that kinda bloke, to keep you well entertained once you come in from the great outdoors, yet still retain its remote getaway charm.
The grand views of the long and winding Wakatipu Lake and surrounding mountains aren’t a bad backdrop either.
Wanaka, a short hop over the mountains, is another quaint mountain town, and is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. I found it to be like a mini Queenstown with its own Mt. Cook area. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to expolore Mt. Aspiring as there was so much to see just around the lakes.
Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea sit side by side, almost coming together at one point, and are surrounded by little bays, rolling hills, and mountains. We spent two days just driving around expolring the far reaches of the lakes.
Sometimes you just have to get a little off road.
And of course, we had to make sure to check out the world famous Wanaka tree. A lonely tree that decided to drop anchor IN the lake itself. Because, you know, why not?
At this point, it had been two and a half weeks of shooting. My camera was litterally breaking down. Our bodies were breaking down. Our minds had long since been lost.
It was time to spend a night in an Irish pub, settling an argument with the locals about whether American football or rugby was better with a feats of strength competition. Oh the things that happen in New Zealand.
Until next time, remember to keep your backpacks ready and your eyes on the trail.
Check out the links below for more photos from the trip and read our adventures from other locations around the world!