Friday, June 15, 2012

New Zealand - Part II

Time to pick up where we left off.  As if glacier climbing wasn't enough, we drove half an hour to nearby Lake Matheson to catch the famed sunset reflection of Mounts Cook and Tasman in the lake.  Of course I brought my tripod and camera along to see if I could get the money shot.

Halfway around the lake - waves destroying my hopes for a reflection shot

No reflection yet at this point, but still a good pic

Finally got some reflection! And sunset colors too :-)

Satisfied with my photography/hiking outing, we headed home and crashed after a busy day.  The next morning, we started making our way south to continue our adventure.  First, we stopped at Lake Matheson again and had a nice brunch at the cafe.  


Happy with my delicious latte

After filling up our tummies, we were back on the road.  Andy drove while I slept (which is pretty much how the entire trip went).  
Stopped along the way at Knight's point

Made Andy stop along the shores of Lake Wanaka:


Finally, we made it to Wanaka town and had a late lunch followed by some photo time.

I just thought this picture was funny, we look so stiff and awkward.  Haha

Much better photo of the two of us

Ducks in motion on the shores of Wanaka

Ducks swimming in Lake Wanaka at twilight

The sun was setting fast and we still had a bit to drive so we didn't get to spend much time in Wanaka.  We made our way through the extremely winding and mountainous Crown Pass and got into Queenstown in the evening.  The scenery during the drive was phenomenal!  Wish we could have done it in better lighting.

In Queenstown, we stayed at the Kawarau Hotel which was actually across the shore from Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu

The living room at the Kawarau Hotel

Early morning view of Lake Wakatipu from our room

In the morning, we took the hotel shuttle to Queenstown and started walking around.  The sun hadn't made if over the surrounding mountains yet, so it was cold!  We ended up spending the morning shopping for a warm hat for Andy's cold head.

The TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu


Us on the shores of Lake Wakatipu

Then we made our way to the Skyline Gondola and rode the cable car up to the top of a nearby mount to see some spectacular views of Queenstown.

Riding the Skyline Gondola

View from the top of Queenstown

Then, we had some fun riding the street luge on the mountain.  This is the same company that operates the street luge on Sentosa Island in Singapore!
Andy ready for his luge ride

Afterwards, we spent some time in McDonalds warming up with a giant hot chocolate.
Me and the cup - or should I say bowl - of hot chocolate

For dinner, we decided to try some Fish n Chips at the little stand by the lake.

Andy waiting for some fish n chips at Aggy's shack


We had a delicious meal of piping hot steamed mussels (possibly the best ever) and fish n chips.  It was cold out, but definitely worth it!  Afterward, we caught a water taxi across the lake back to our hotel

View at the dock while waiting for our water taxi

The next morning, we started the day with some delicious brunch at Vudu Cafe in Queenstown
French toast

Chorizo, Eggs, Pico - pure goodness!

We continued our drive, making our way south towards Te Anau.  
Typical scenery in New Zealand: Gorgeous mountains, lots of sheep

On the way to Te Anau, we got a special treat.  We got caught up in a herd of cattle being transported on the road.

Driving with the cows

At one point, we were driving in the middle of the cow herd and one cow turned its head to look at us, as if saying "what's up dude?"  It was hilarious.  We couldn't figure out how to pass the cows as they took up the entire road, and we tried driving a little closer to them, which made them pick up their speed, but that was unpleasant as it seemed that the faster they ran, the faster they um, "relieved" themselves.  After all, nature is a cow's bathroom.  We were definitely subject to some views that I would prefer not to remember.  Let's just say we definitely kept the windows closed!

We finally made it to Te Anau, a quiet little town, which is also the gateway to Milford Sound.
Lake Te Anau

After a good night's sleep, we headed out early on our drive to Milford Sound.  We stopped at the Mirror Lakes on the way, but it was too early in the morning and it was too foggy to get some good reflections of the mountains.

Mirror Lakes

Early morning fog in the field

Andy and our little Toyota Vitz, which we affectionately dubbed "Fritz" - Fritz the Vitz

The morning sunlight streaming through some trees at the Great Chasm, a stop along our way to Milford.

We reached Milford Sound, met with our tour group and got suited up to kayak Milford Sound.

Here I am suited up in my awesome thermals - note, guys and girls wore the SAME outfits.  It was hilarious.

Milford Sound is technically a fjord, which was carved out by Glaciers.  It was so calm and beautiful out on the water.

Views of Milford Sound

I think the one on the left is Mitre Peak, one of the most famous peaks in New Zealand.

My view

Me and my paddling partner

After a grueling 4 hour paddle, Andy and I were struggling - let me just say, kayaking is not for the weak!  By the end, I was barely able to lift anything - once again, I was amazed by how out of shape I was.  On the drive back, we stopped at the Mirror Lakes again and I got a much better shot than the foggy one in the morning.

Mountains and Mirror Lakes

After Te Anau, we started northward and drove to Mount Cook where we stayed at the Hermitage Hotel.  Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand and Sir Edmund Hilary trained there before climbing Everest.


The amazing view of Mounts Cook and Tasman from our balcony

We decided to do the Hooker Valley hike, which would bring us across two swing bridges and we'd get to see a couple of glacial lakes.

First swing bridge - you can see the glacial lake on the left, I forgot the name of it...

I love this shot of Andy

The two of us

More mountains and glacial waters

Windy boardwalk

Me in the fields of tussocks!

Unfortunately during our hike, I sprained my ankle.  Luckily, it wasn't a bad sprain so I was able to finish up our walk.  After Mt. Cook, we drove over to Lake Tekapo where we just walked around a little due to my injured ankle.

Lake Tekapo

People's rock towers at Lake Tekapo - I guess it was the "thing" to do there.

But instead of following everyone we decided to be different and...
...give them a kick instead!


Posing for a nice picture

The famous Church of the Good Shepherd on the shore of Lake Tekapo

We also visited the Astro Cafe on nearby Mount John and checked out the views of Lake Tekapo from there.
Lake Tekapo

Andy had hoped to do a nighttime stargazing tour, but it turned out to be too cloudy.

After Lake Tekapo we drove back up to Christchurch and flew out the next day.  We spent a little time driving around Christchurch, but unfortunately the two recent earthquakes had inflicted quite a bit of damage on the city center and most of it was sectioned off for rebuilding.  It was definitely a little sad to see the damage of the earthquakes.  Anyway, this travel series does not end here!  From Christchurch, we flew to Sydney and spent a few days there.  I'll cover that in my next post.  If you didn't get a chance to check out all of our New Zealand pictures,  you can go to this album.


  1. These pics are AMAZING. i am so jealous that you guys got to go!

  2. Beautiful beautiful!!! Love the pictures!!! Looks like you guys had fun!

  3. I think I had the same french toast dish from Vudu, and we also looked for Aggy's fish shack bc of your review. :) The Great Chasm was closed on our drive to Milford, due to avalanche risk I think. Thx for your help in my planning!