Saturday, January 30, 2010


We left Hokitika in a fog, which soon cleared as we continued down the coast.  We drove through stunning countryside, into forest and beside crystal lakes into the village of Fox Glacier township.  After a little back and forth, we decided to splurge on a helicoptor tour of the Fox Glacier.  Adventure sports and the like, we discovered, are cheaper in New Zealand.

In the helicoptor tour waiting area was an art gallery.  Here are The Doors on some doors... think about it.

Anyway, up we went.  I can't say much, other than... well... it was intense.  Take a look.
We soared into and over the valley of the Fox Glacier, over toward Mt. Cook, Mt. Tasman, over serveral other glaciers, deep into the Southern Alps.  We landed on a snow field nearly 10,000 feet up, walked around a bit and then flew back down grazing snowcapped peaks, rainforested mountain tops and glacial riverbeds.  It was magical.  Total awe.

We recovered our senses, and continued on.  Here is a spot on the coast just north of the town of Haast, before the road turns inland.

I wish I had better pictures of the drive between Haast and Wanaka, because it was perhaps the most remarkable change of environment I have ever seen in such a short drive.  In the period of an hour and a half we drove along temperate rainforest coastline up into a river valley with even more magestic forest framed by snow capped mountains.  The road was trimmed with waterfalls and huge stone cliffs.  It was indescribable.  Just then, it all opened up, the trees vanished, and we were in a landscape of desolate scrub around a totally glass-clear lake.

We stopped in Wanaka, on the shores of Lake Wanaka, for a couple nights.  The town had a jocky, Colorado feeling, and some good food.

Lunch the following day was a great lamb burger.

After lunch, we went for a jet-boat ride up a nearby river toward Mt. Aspiring.  It almost blew the helicoptor ride out of the proverbial water.

We came around a bend and suddenly our view was filled with a huge glacier with half a dozen massive waterfalls spilling off of it.  Waterfalls spilling down hundreds of feet from a pristine glacier into wild temperate rainforest.  Did you even know this kind of thing could occur outside of blacklight posters?

A neon crystal blue stream ran from the waterfalls into the river we had ridden up.

There was a moment I wandered off from the guide and felt totally alone with nature.  Pure water, soil, air, grass, trees... this moment in time has become one of my favorite spots on earth.  Total isolation, the cleanest air breathable, and a view better than a dream.  New Zealand delivers natural grandeur beyond everything you have heard.  WOW.

1 comment:

  1. just when I thought nothing could top the last place you went...! So many exciting developments! I'm so excited for you! I can hardly STAND IT!