Journal

Archives: February 2006

Beautiful Queenstown! (Day 5) 24 February 2006

What a beautiful day – shirtsleeve weather, beautiful!!

I had planned to take the gondola to the top of one of the mountains just above the city, but when I got to the gondola terminal, I noticed a couple of hikers headed off on a trail, and realized that there is a trail to the top! I had been thinking I need to keep my legs in shape for the Milford Track tomorrow, so this was perfect. It turned out to be more than adequate for this purpose! It was **VERY** steep, and in my sneakers, was quite challenging, but beautiful. It was very like nearing the top of the trail above Bear Lake in Colorado, where the trail gets steeper and rockier. There were many spots where I had to pull myself up using branches and rocks. (more…)

Bus across sheepland forever (Day 4) 24 February 2006

Hello all… I was going to say this was an uneventful day, but the bus ride from Mt. Cook to Queenstown this aftenoon was really rather amazing, in retrospect. It seemed that we crossed the wide high rolling hills (over Lindis pass for miles and miles) of sheep and dairy farms, then vineyards, forever! They truly seemed endless, sometimes barren, sometimes heavily covered with many-colored green shrubs, always very steep, then becoming very rugged. It could have been the hills of Texas, or of southern Idaho. I think now that I would like to see a sheep farm, and plan to check out that possibility. Shops selling the ‘finest merino wool in the world’ are **everywhere** – too bad I rarely wear it, it seems a shame to pass it up. We passed through the glider flight capital of the world – only two weeks ago the international competition was held in Omarama. (more…)

Hooker Track & to the TOP of Mt. Cook (Day 3) 23 February 2006

I went to the top of Mt. Cook yesterday! Unbelievable. I splurged on a scenic helicopter ride – nearly an hour – and it [almost] left me speechless. We flew up the Tasman Valley (where I am staying, in Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park), over the Tasman Glacier, which is not the longest in the world outside the Arctic Circles but in the southern hemisphere. I still don’t remember how long it is, but I think not 70km – maybe 27km! We then flew between Mt. Tasman and some other peak, over the Main Divide (I presume their version of the Continental Divide) and landed on the Franz Josef Glacier, which is 11km long. I simply could not believe the spectacularly beautiful scenery – literally surrounded by jagged, pointy peaks and snow, and icefalls! As you can imagine, I was in heaven, or felt like it. (more…)

Bus Ride to Aoraki Mt. Cook (Day 2) 22 February 2006

As I write this, it is about 9pm, and I have a warm buzz from having enjoyed the South Island’s favorite beer, Speights, while spending over an hour in the sofa lounge just mesmerized by the howling winds streaming the snow off the peak of Aoraki Mt. Cook (Aoraki means “cloud piercer”), which was finally bathed in sunshine after being shrouded in rain and clouds all day. (more…)

Hello from NZede/Godzone! (Day 1) 21 February 2006

It is about 7:30pm here (about 1:30 am Tuesday, your time), and I got about 4 hours’ sleep on the plane last night from San Fran to Auckland, so have been up for about 30 hours except for the fitful airplane-seat snooze. I have kept busy today, hoping to sleep like a log tonight!

NZ smells like San Diego, because it has a maritime climate, and when we landed in Christchurch (CC) this morning at 8 am, the city was still blanketed with what Dave & Susie would call the “marine layer” of fog. (more…)

Bon Voyage! 18 February 2006

This post is for my daughter Andrea, architect of this website (and who keeps saying “WRITE! WRITE!). She and my sweetheart Lester and my mom Helen were the planners of the wonderful surprise farewell/”retirement” party they threw for me Thursday! It was fantastic, and I WAS **totally** surprised! It was a lovely evening in the company of wonderful friends and family – I missed those of you who could not make it to Duangrats (some of the best Thai food in town). To my delight, I received a few things that I had not thought of, or had not been able to find – thank you! These will fit nicely into my backpack – my ONLY bag… yes, I am truly backpacking NZ. My next post will hopefully be when I land in Christchurch, assuming I will easily find an internet cafe. :)