Southern Alps and Mt. Cook
few days in the very pleasant town of Geraldine getting caught up with my
website, then the skies cleared, so I
headed back down to the Southern Alps to see Mount Cook National Park. Not
surprisingly, Mount Cook, the tallest peak in New Zealand at about 11,000', is
located here and I'm really glad I
waited until the sun came out to visit. The campground -- like
most other New Zealand campgrounds, just a grassy field without many facilities
and no picnic tables, but very cheap -- was really packed, but I camped here anyway
because the alpine surroundings were just so darn beautiful.
the 4-hour hike up to Hooker Glacier the next day, during which I passed
approximately one-half of the entire population of Japan. Once I got up to
the glacier, I discovered that it was pretty dirty and not that interesting, but the hike through the alpine
meadows was amazing and I was surrounded on all sides not only by Japanese
camera-toting tourists, but also by cirques, aretes,
moraines, and all kinds of other glacial landforms that I learned about at the University of Wisconsin. If you like glacial landforms like I do, Mt. Cook National Park
is a terrific place to visit, even if you're not Japanese.
left: After two rainy days in
Geraldine, the skies cleared so I retraced my steps and headed back down to the "Southern Alps."
This time I could actually see them.
center: The bright blue waters of
Lake Tekapo. That color is from the glacial "flour," or ground
rock that's in the water. This part of the central South Island is really
dry, though the area a few miles west of here gets several feet of rain each year.
Talk about a rainshadow!
right: I've seen tour buses everywhere on this trip. There are
LOTS of tourists in New Zealand now... including me.
left: Driving up to Mt. Cook, the
tallest peak in New Zealand. Lake Pukaki is in the distance.
center: After I spent a month in New Zealand, the
weather was finally nice enough so that I could set up my tent and camp.
This is in Mt. Cook National Park.
right: The view from my campsite at Mt.
Cook National Park.
left: On the way up to Hooker
Glacier; this is one of many swing bridges that I've
hiked across during the past few weeks. They're a lot of fun.
center: The Mueller River area was covered by a giant sheet
of ice only a few hundred years ago.
right: Flowers on the trail.
left: The dirty Hooker Glacier
(right) and Mt. Cook. Note the icebergs floating in the lake.
right: Mt. Cook, at just over 11,000 feet, is about as high
as Oregon's Mt. Hood. It's also at about the same latitude, around 45
Glaciers to Jungles... and Sandflies
saying goodbye to Mount Cook National Park that afternoon, I drove south to Wanaka
(rhymes with "Monica"), which is a lakeside resort town that's something like
Queenstown but, fortunately, is a bit more relaxed. The place was pretty packed,
though, and after scrambling around for a half-hour, I got the last motel room
in town, a skill that I've become quite adept at. I liked Wanaka, but
think I would like it a lot more in the spring or fall when it isn't so darn
visiting the famed Wanaka Air Museum the next morning and seeing my fill of
P-51's, Spitfires, and other fascinating aircraft, I headed on to New Zealand's west coast
where I stumbled across the
pleasant, sleepy town of Haast, near the coast. The drive between inland
Wanaka and coastal Haast is quite amazing because within a distance of about 50
miles, you travel from a very dry grassland area through a steamy, tropical
jungle and then out to the beach. Surprisingly enough, the skies here on the west coast -- the
wettest part of New Zealand -- were actually clear. This area averages
around 250 inches of rain a year, about as wet as Ketchikan, Alaska, so I was
pretty lucky to see the sun. I wasn't planning to stay in Haast, but I liked the area
so much that I got a room there for the night at a backpackers (i.e.,
discovered, the west coast of New Zealand is a wonderful place but, as I also
discovered, the sandflies here think so too. I was planning to stroll
leisurely along the beach that afternoon and watch the sunset, but the swarms of
biting sandflies drove me batty so I beat a quick retreat to the backpackers and took
refuge in my room. A sandfly is about half the size of a housefly but bites like
a mosquito and, as I learned, they're all over the west coast. I'm not sure
why there aren't any sandflies in the U.S., but I'm really glad they've decided
to stay here in New Zealand because they drove me absolutely nuts.
I wised up the
next morning and, anticipating a long drive up the coast, put on jeans instead
of the shorts I'd been wearing the past few days and wore a long shirt over my t-shirt.
And I also put on
LOTS of insect repellent. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid.
left: In Wanaka, I got the
very last motel
room in town, once again. Wanaka is a nice town but it's really crowded in the summer
center: Waterskiing on Lake Wanaka.
right: The Warbirds Air Museum in Wanaka is a pretty cool place to
spend a few hours.
left: The next day, driving west on Highway 6
heading to the coast.
center: Beautiful Lake Hawea.
right: Lunch time at Lake Wanaka. It's really dry here but
shortly after leaving Lake Wanaka, I entered a humid
jungle. From desert to jungle in 10 miles -- typical in New Zealand.
left: Another day, another hike,
another swing bridge.
This is on the way to the "Blue Pools" on the Makarora River.
center: Ferns are everywhere in
right: I finally reached the Blue Pools... and was greeted by lots of biting sandflies,
so my stay here was pretty brief.
left: Thunder Falls and the Haast
right: I won't even ask.
left: That afternoon, I pulled into
the small, sleepy town of Haast on the west coast and stayed at a
"backpackers" (or hostel). There are hundreds of
backpackers around New Zealand. Backpackers have bunk beds in dorm rooms for
around US$8 a night and most also have private rooms, which run around US$20 a night.
center: My room at the Wilderness
Backpackers. Not quite as nice as a motel room but a lot cheaper.
right: After shooting 3,873 pictures during the last five weeks, this is probably how I look to every
left: I drove up the
rainy and remote west coast of New Zealand the next morning. They measure rainfall here in
center: A tight fit.
right: The Fox Glacier is surrounded on three sides by a
dense jungle. Moving at about 3 feet a day, it's one of the fastest moving
glaciers in the world.
left: The crowded trail up to the Fox
Glacier. I ran into my Israeli hitchhiking friend Idit here and got caught up with
center: Here's the glacier's
terminus. That tunnel is about 15 feet high.
right: The Franz Josef Glacier, a few miles north of the Fox
left: I stayed that
night at the Kiwi Motel in Hokitika, a typical motel in New Zealand: about
10 rooms, family-owned, full kitchen, and free laundry facilities... and a free
pint of milk. All for about US$28 a night.
right: Quite possibly the world's largest sheep.
2, 2002 -- Part 1 (Taupo, New Zealand)
20, 2002 (Geraldine, New Zealand)
16, 2002 (Te Anau, New Zealand)
12, 2002 -- Part 2 (Dunedin, New Zealand)
12, 2002 -- Part 1 (Dunedin, New Zealand)
1, 2002 -- Part 2 (Christchurch, New Zealand)
1, 2002 -- Part 1 (Christchurch, New Zealand)
24, 2001 (Wellington, New Zealand)
20, 2001 (Auckland, New Zealand)
16, 2001 (Auckland, New Zealand)
14, 2001 (Aitutaki, Cook Islands)
10, 2001 (Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
3, 2001 -- Part 2 (Bellingham, Washington)
3, 2001 -- Part 1 (Bellingham, Washington)
18, 2001 -- Part 3 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
18, 2001 -- Part 2 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
18, 2001 -- Part 1 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
6, 2001 (Fort Lincoln State Park, North Dakota)
30, 2001 -- Part 2 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
30, 2001 -- Part 1 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
September 15, 2001 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
30, 2001 (Webster, South Dakota)
18, 2001 (Watertown South Dakota)
17, 2001 (Walnut Grove, Minnesota)
14, 2001 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
10, 2001 (Battle Creek, Michigan)
8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 2)
8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 1)
6, 2001 (Manlius, New York)
23, 2001 (Middleton, Massachusetts)
22, 2001 (Boston, Massachusetts)
20, 2001 (Pomfret, Connecticut)
18, 2001 (Denton, Maryland)
16, 2001 (Cumberland, Virginia)
14, 2001 (Roanoke, Virginia)
9, 2001 (Sevierville, Tennessee)
8, 2001 (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)
5, 2001 (Manchester, Tennessee)
30, 2001 (Hohenwald, Tennessee)
29, 2001 (Corinth, Mississippi)
27, 2001 (Natchez, Mississippi)
24, 2001 (Austin, Texas)
20, 2001 (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)
18, 2001 (Clay Canyon, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 2 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 1 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
14, 2001 (San Diego, California)
11, 2001 (San Jose, California)
2, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
19, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
30, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
19, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
5, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
* * * * * * *
Travels (2001-02) >
New Zealand Trip
> January 25, 2002