We took a 90 minute cruise on the Milford Sound out to the Tasman Sea and back. This is a stunning area. It will remind you of fjords in Norway though I think those we have seen there were narrower. I think, if you have the time, kayaking these waters would be quite enjoyable.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Friday, January 13, 2017
On the morning ride out it was overcast and the Sydney Opera House appeared rather different though no less grand. But with the afternoon sun shining down the building really does put one in mind of tall sailing ship with new sails set to power the ship of to the great world beyond the horizon.
About 7 miles northeast of Circular Quay, a half-hour fast ferry ride, lies the peninsula that contains Manly and Sydney Harbor National Park. This is a thriving beach but so much more. We spent several hours there enjoying some time on the beach but more walking some of the paths in the park. Their is a lot of history here from the remains of quarantine areas, old military gun emplacements, barracks, almost desert-like scrublands, and naturally excellent views of the Pacific Ocean pounding the shoreline.
The waters are truly that clear. While some areas of the sea are still suffering from pollution this part of Manly Beach isn't among them.
Walk the promenade for a while and eventually you get to Shelly Beach. Then follow paths into Sydney Harbor Bational Park. You'll climb a bit on good trail, many stone steps , moving away from the sea. Eventually you'll find your way through scrub on metal grated - like a boardwalk - trail that takes you to a road. From there you're minutes away from the unassuming but very nice cafe. Afterwards you can follow the road back down to Manly a couple miles away.
The view from the Bella Vista Cafe in North Head. Just a couple miles from downtown Manly.
Monday, January 9, 2017
In 1888 Quinton Mackinnon surveyed an overland route to connect Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound. The 33.5 mile long track is now, and perhaps has always been, an iconic hike in New Zealand. Today it is an exceptionally well maintained and managed trail. While no doubt much tougher back in Mackinnon's day I'm confident those trekkers found as much to enjoy as we did. We hike the Milford Track over 3 nights. While you can do it as an independent walker we travelled in the care of Ultimate Hikes who did a splendid job.
Enjoy the video.
Sunday, January 8, 2017
By the way the wonderfully colorful lake you see way off in the background in photo 5 and close by in photo 6 is the same Lake. Lake Pukaki changes color depending on the light. Around 09:45 it was far more muted and grayer.
Purple lupine and Mom in a prairie-like area not far from the start of the gentle trail into Hooker Valley.
Thursday, January 5, 2017
We stayed in very well appointed mountain lodges. Bunkhouse with 4-6 bunks per room for sleeping and shared bathrooms were the rule. We had breakfast and dinner on a large dining rooms. The food was plentiful and tasty. Good lodging and food always make the experience better and Ultimate Hikes who run the trip did a fine job.
We ended our exploration of Fjordlands National Park with a cruise on the Milford Sound (technically a fjord too) to the Tasman Sea. Think of Norwegian fjords but with taller cliffs, so it seemed, and you'll have a sense of what we saw. Pembroke Mountain with what's left of its Glacier which helped form this area two million years ago is just one stunning example of what we saw.
At the start of the Milford Track. The first day we hiked less than a mile to Glade House. The nature walk we did later was a challenge because it was full of huge exposed roots.
The descent off Mackinnon Pass was brutal. An agile strong hiker can do it in three hours and at that he or she won't be going much over a mile-per-hour. I crept along at closer to 0.6MPH. Rocks everywhere, drops, gaps and a descent of 3,000 feet.
The sun broke out after dinner and helped redeem the tough afternoon with a fine Alpine-glow sunset. The clouds just floated in.
Penbroke Mountain and it's Glacier. The fjords of Milford Sound are grand.
The beach at Ship Cove. Lovely driftwood.
We spent three days traveling from Picton to Queenstown. There are many places to stop along the way as you travel the west coast of South Island. Among the places we visited were: a winery, a lake - perhaps Kerr Lake - with black swans and eels, Kilkenny Gap, Cape Foulwind, pancake Rocks in Paparoa National Park, the Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Matheson, the town of Ross with its historic sites, and more. No doubt you can make the journey more quickly but I think most people would choose to visit the majority of the same places we did. In fact, especially if the weather is good, some places would clearly get extra time.
I've never seen limestone form stacks like these at Pancake Rocks. I expect you can do much more in Paparoa National Park but make time to walk the circuit that shows off the Rocks, sea caves and flax lined cliffs.
Franz Josef Glacier is kilometers away but we are st the end of this easy 1.75 mile hike. Easy trail of asfalt and hard packed dirt. Just a little climbing.
If the weather is good, no wind, the reflections off Lake Matheson can be exquisite. The clouds prevented us from getting mountain views but we got the clouds. The water has tannins in it that darken the color and improve reflections.
Lake Wanaka is one of the largest lakes in New Zealand. It is stunning. The town of Wanaka sits on the shore and is clearly the place to be for summertime outdoor fun.
Looking down from Bob's Peak on Queenstown.
And enjoy this video.