Our final few adventures on the South Island

We continued to explore the West Coast of the South Island, by driving from Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier.

We have already used up all of the superlatives in the dictionary, describing this amazing land, but we  really wish we had some more to draw upon.

The drive itself (about 5 hours) has to be one of the most scenic routes in the World.  That’s quite a claim, but we went through so many different landscapes it was hard to believe. We started off through lakelands, mountains, then sea shore and tropical forest, before arriving at the Glacier. It was extraordinary.

As the weather was not with us, you’ll have to take my word for it, for the most part.  Here’s the Arrowtown, a historic town near Queenstown and one of the beaches on our way to Franz Josef.

 ArrowtownBeach on way to Franz Josef

 

We also spotted some of the rarer native birds in their habitats.  The first is the NZ wood pigeon, the Kereru which is about three times the size of our native birds. Honestly, it was a wonder the branch could hold these two up!

Wood pigeon

 

The other cheeky chappy, just walking around the car park is the Kaka, a member of the parrot family. He seemed completely unfazed by the traffic and the people.  Many of the cafe’s nearby have signs saying keep an eye on your food as there will be no replacements if a Kaka steals it.  Sounds very like the Seagulls on Brighton Beach.

 

 

kaka franz josef 

At the end of our 5 hour trip, we arrived at Franz Josef Glacier.  This was a most extraordinary sight, and one that the pictures cannot really convey. It is like a frozen waterfall coming over the top of the mountain.  It’s the cold mountain air and the warm air from the sea meeting on the mountain face that creates this effect.  The perpetual glacier has probably had a presence for thousands of years, but the glacial face has receded at least 30 metres over the last 150 years.  An impact of global warning?  We simply do not know.

 Glacier 1Glacier 2

 

 

We continued our journey through Arthur’s Pass the following day which took us back to Christchurch airport.  It is an epic journey and we are so pleased that we got to enjoy the mountain views.

 Arthurs pass

Next adventures will be on the North Island.    

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Milford Sounds’ amazing

One of the iconic locations in New Zealand, in a country which is full of them is Milford Sound, a spectacular Fjord on the South Island. Mitre Peak is the largest of the summits at 1690 metres, but it has many spectacular mountains along the route.

We decided it was too important to pass by, so we left our hotel in TeAnau, at 5am. so we could take the 9am cruise. It was a wet and misty morning, which only added to the experience.

It’s called Milford Sound, but should more accurately be called Milford Fjord. What’s the difference I hear you ask? Well it’s all to do with how they are formed.  A Sound comes from a valley being flooded by water.  A Fjord comes from Glacial action where mountains are formed and push against each other and the glacial caps melt. The effect is a very crowded mountainous region, usually in a u shape with deep bodies of water. However the early European settlers didn’t seem to know the difference so the name Milford Sound has stuck.

The boat trip took us right the way out to the Tamsin sea, through some of the most dramatic landscapes imaginable.

 

There were plenty of waterfalls as you sail through. Here’s a couple.

Despite the cloud, the views were pretty spectacular from every angle and the photos here don’t really do it justice.

 

Sometimes Dolphins can be seen in the Sound, but we were not so lucky during our visit.

We did see some of the young Seals that hang out here, until they are strong enough to go it alone.

From Milford Sound, we went on to Queenstown, which has an enviable lakeside location. The weather here was considerably brighter and warmer than what we had driven through to get here.

Walking around the town, we were tickled to see this take on the Zebra crossing.