The New Zealand trip started Nov 20, 2006 and ended Dec 18, 2006. The major portion of the time was spent on a tour with New Zealand Travelers we took with Suzanne's brother Don. We broke the plane flight into stages, stopping in Los Angeles and Tahiti on the way out, and Los Angeles on the way back.
TECHNICAL NOTES on photography and web site.
We got a "deal" on plane fare, just a little bit more to stop in Tahiti rather than taking a nonstop flight direct from Los Angeles to Auckland. We booked 2 nights at the Sofitel on the beach in Tahiti, getting some nice beach shots and taking a 4WD tour of the interior of the island. Some of Suzanne's beach pictures were particularly nice.
After 48 hours in Tahiti, we flew to Auckland and on to Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand, limiting our North Island exposure to the airport in Auckland. We stayed at the Sussex House B&B for a couple of days before the tour started, wandering around Nelson and seeing all the essential sites. This included a walk to the top of the hill marked "The Center of New Zealand" from which one could get good views of Nelson and adjacent valley.
After a couple of days to reduce jet lag, we were picked up by the tour driver, Myra, and taken with the rest of the group for our first hike, to "The Center of New Zealand", which we climbed once again. After that, it was off to lunch in Nelson, followed by distribution to our first tour lodging at Cable Bay Bed and Breakfast.
The first full day of the tour started us off with sea kayaking for a half day. Another kayak picture. Final kayak picture. Kayaking partners Myra and Rod after their dunking.
In the afternoon,Suzanne at waterfall on a walk at the nature preserve at Pelorus Bridge.
The next day was a day trip to the Abel Tasman Coast Track for walks along the coast. A real "globetrekker".
From the Nelson area, we drive to the east coast town of Kaikoura. A visit to a vinyard along the way and multiple chances to try mussels, a NZ favorite. Seacoast and fauna seen and photographed on the way.
In Kaikoura for 2 nights at a motel, feeding and handling sheep at a sheep shearing demo, a rainy day activity. With the motel on the beachfront and mountains in the background, it was hard to decide which of the many pictures to use. Lunch preparation at the motel was done before starting on a hike around the peninsula. At the start of the hike, one must get around the gatekeeper. After that, the hikers walk along some impressive limestone formations past more guardians and along rocky beaches suitable for beachcombing, to South Bay on the far side of the peninsula. Looking back at South Bay as we walked back overland into Kaikoura.
On the way to Hokitika (2 nights there), we stopped to hike on part of the St. James Walkway at Boyle River. Muggers (Suzanne and her brother Don) sighted on the walk. We also toured a "Gold Battery" used to crush gold ore. An indication of population density, single lane bridge shared by active railroad, as seen by the photographer.
From our lodging in Hokitika we could walk to see the glowworms (shut your eyes if you want to see equivalent sight to our photos) and comb the beach. A day trip to Lake Kaniere led to a nature trail, some waterfalls, and a walk through the woods overlooking the lake, with multiple places to view Lake Kaniere.
Leaving Hokitika, we stopped at Fox Glacier. Walking up to the glacier. Photographing a kia (alpine parrot) in the parking lot there. Knights Point. More beach, multiple beachcombers, and Don on a rock.
At Okuru, a view of the mountains from beachfront accomodations next to the river with whitebait (fish) stands propped up so they are not destroyed by spring floods. Neighbors across the street had several domesticated elk in their yards. In NZ, deer and elk are farmed just like sheep, but with higher fences. Breakfast at the cottage there.
A highlight of the trip was riding a jetboat up Waiatoto River with Waiatoto River Safaris. The ride was fun and the scenery spectacular. We stopped and took pictures at the upstream point where the river was not navigatable even for a boat with 4 inch draft. On the same ride, dramatic differences in environment on one of the smaller streams where it fed into the ocean. Lunch guest on a fishing pier at Jackson Bay after the jetboat ride.
On the way to Wanaka, Suzanne on suspension bridge on walk to Blue Pools and her biggest wildlife photo while waiting for Rod to climb down to the pools and back. Scenery along the way, with photographer or subject. A typical landscape , often difficult to capture from a moving vehicle.
Getting ready for a hike. This time Suzanne split off from the rest at the first swing bridge and spent much of her time in the valley instead of climbing the hill. She ate her lunch with the sheep, while Rod had a different visitor at his bench up on the mountain. The kia wasn't much interested in Rod's staff, but Jane's pack was irresistable. Lamb. Two hikers. Mossy trees. Stream. Hikers along stream. Rod. Swing bridge. Hikers.
Lake Wanaka (or Lake Wakatipu - if I can't tell the difference, you probably can't either). Lupines along a stream. Lupines along the road. Manditory stop at Bead Shop in downtown Queenstown.
From lodging in Arrowtown, most of us took an all day commercial bus tour to Milford Sound. The bus let us out for a short break at Te Anau, so Suzanne immediately took off for the end of Lake Te Anau for a photo. Mirror Lake. There were LOTS of people taking this route on many coaches, with multiple photo stops.
On Milford Sound there were many opportunities for photos. The boat was crowded, but one still could get a photo of waterfalls, or seals, or other boats. More views of the mountains and Lake Wakatipu on the return trip to Arrowtown. Flowers and thier photographer by that lake.
We stopped at the original BUNGY jump and Suzanne prepared to join in. Roadside fruit stand for cherries and strawberries. Don Carr, hearing again the story of how a gold miner assures that nobody will take his gold at a lunch stop along the road to Twizel. Fields of lupine everywhere, making the photographer really happy. We picked up really fresh salmon at a salmon farm for one evening meal. One picture with the orange shirt.
Outside Twizel we stay in sight of Mount Cook, but make an evening trip for a closer photo. Off for another hike where Suzanne stops at the first swing bridge. It was a good decision, as it was extremely windy and there was a second swing bridge whose approaches were pretty scary in the high winds. The object was to travel up the valley to a glacier feeding the stream and lake. High, but still white flowers in bloom. Looking back down the valley.
Just one last shot of lupines and mountains. Countryside from the porch of our brunch stop on the last day of the tour. Rakaia Gorge, crossed on our way into Christchurch and the ending of the official tour. Our transport during the tour.
In Christchurch we stayed at Ashleigh Court Motel 4 nights after the tour ended to hike through Hagley Park containing the Botanic Gardens to reach downtown. The Avon River winds through the park, gardens and downtown. Another landscaped area at the Mona Vale Homestead adjacent to the park. One evening we visited Willowbank and saw the Ko Tane Cultural Experience, a Maori program, which included a candlelight dinner (courtesy of an auto hitting a power pole nearby) and a guided walk through the wildlife refuge, where Suzanne met the kias. Unfortunately Suzanne had read a booklet on kias which described how destructive they could be and how powerful their beaks and claws were, so Rod was unable to get any of the subjects to hold still long enough for a clear photo.
THE END. If you made it all the way to this point, you should really appreciate the thousands of other photos we did NOT put on the web :)