Thursday, November 29, 2007

Leaving NZ (March 14, 2002)

This is another installment in the series: 'Round the world, revisited. I sent this email on March 14, 2002 from New Zealand during our 6 month journey.

We are off to Aussie (as the Kiwis call Australia)
tomorrow so we thought we would give you an update on
the rest of our adventures in New Zealand.

Free Advice - Don't do a glacier hike in the pouring
rain. Although the waterfalls tumbling off the cliffs
are beautiful in the rain, the ice and river crossings
are treacherous. Not to mention that being soaked to
the bone isn't much fun either. Despite the rain we
did get to walk on the glacier and glimpse some of its
mysterious blue caves.

After the glacier we headed south through the lakes
region and went on a jet boat ride. Wanaka and
Queenstown are both set on huge lakes and are pretty
little towns. We then tried to go up to the Cascade
Saddle overlooking Mt. Aspiring and its glaciers. We
were again thwarted by rain (It may be rainy, but at
least it is windy) and ended up seeing the inside of
Cascade hut.

We continued south to Fiordland and the famous Milford
Sound. Before going to Milford we met up with some
friends from home, David and Heather Schutt. We also
spent a couple of days of relative luxury on an
overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound. The sound
(actually a fiord since it was carved by a glacier,
not a river) was really cool. It is much larger and
less traveled than Milford. The walls are nearly
vertical, thousands of feet tall, with more waterfalls
than I could count. Finally we got some good weather
for the cruise, a rarity on the West Coast.

After the cruise we drove over to Milford Sound which
is stunning as well. The constant drone of scenic
flights overhead only slightly diminishes the
enjoyment of the view. We hiked up Gertrude Saddle
for a better view and it was definitely one of the
highlights of the trip. Brad tried fishing on the
Eglington river and caught nothing after spotting only
a single fish on a mile of river.

We had to make sure and visit the third major island
of NZ and went over to Stewart Island for a couple of
days. We happened to be there at the opening of the
newest NZ national park, Rakiura. We got to see the
prime minister and Sir Edmund Hillary speak. The town
had all kinds of festivities for the occasion and we
had a good time. We also visited the nearby bird
sanctuary of Ulva Island. It was really amazing to
hear so many birds calling and the waves lapping and
the breeze through the leaves. We watched a Weka
(remember the Chicken-Duck) pull the moss off a 3 foot
section of log in search of food and a robin tried to
land on Amy and picked at both of our boots.

We drove through the Catlins (along the southeast
coast) where Brad finally caught a fish - a whopping 9
incher!!!. We spent a couple of nights in Dunedin.
The architecture there is really neat - mostly
Victorian. We also went on a tour where we saw
penguins, sea lions and fur seals up close - some as
close as 10 feet.

Now we are in Christchurch and will be off on the
plane in the next few hours.

Hope this email finds everyone well.

Brad and Amy

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