NZ – The First Nine Days

It’s  Friday the 6th today, our ninth day in New Zealand.  When we arrived on the South Island on New Year’s Eve Day, we felt like our trip had really begun, because the guidebooks say that the most beautiful natural sights are here.  Without having seen much of the North Island, I can’t really compare, but let me just say that we’ve both been stunned by the spectacular scenery around every corner.

Haast River along Haast Pass
Haast River along Haast Pass – the river is turquoise!

It seems like everywhere we turn, there’s a waterfall, a turquoise river, jungle-like woods in every shade of green, wildflowers like lupine and foxglove in bloom, lakes, oceanfronts, and towering mountains with snow-capped peaks.  New Zealand has it all.  Oh, and add a glacier or two.

We spent New Year’s Eve in Nelson on the north coast of the South Island, and then drove along the shore to the Abel Tasman National Park on New Year’s Day.  Much of the huge park is accessible only on foot or by boat, so we took a ferry ride along the coast for a bit.

Some of the coastline of Abel Tasman National Park
Some of the coastline of Abel Tasman National Park

Over the next two days, we drove down the west coast to Franz Glacier, via Westport.  The view from our motel:

View from motel in Franz Josef
View from motel in Franz Josef

There, we did three separate hikes to two glaciers and a lake:

Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier – notice the blue color of the ice!
Trail to Lake Matheson
Trail to Lake Matheson – doesn’t it look like an elf could jump out any minute??
Lake Matheson
Lake Matheson – on a clear day, the lake mirrors the snow capped peaks behind

That was an exhausting but amazing day!  It felt like we never got a chance to put the camera down – it was one incredible view after the next.  And it just keeps going! When we left Franz Josef and headed for Queenstown, this was some of the scenery:

Knights Point Lookout, West Coast
Knights Point Lookout, West Coast
Stopped for lunch at Cameron Flats along the Makarora River
Stopped for lunch at Cameron Flats along the Makarora River
Lake Wanaka
Lake Wanaka, on the drive from Haast Pass to Queenstown
Lupines in bloom
Lupines in bloom on the Crown Range road to Queenstown
Approach to Queenstown
Approach to Queenstown on Crown Range road – note sheep in foreground!

After arriving in Queenstown and checking into our Airbnb, we took a drive along the lake up to Glenorchy:

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown
Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown – looks unreal, doesn’t it??
Lake Wakatipu at sunset
Lake Wakatipu at sunset

And this was the view on today’s hike:

Queenstown Hill Hike
Queenstown Hill Hike

Are you on sensory overload yet?? Couldn’t handle looking at one more beautiful thing?  Join the club!  And we still have twelve more days….

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