Edit Blog Post
Published: October 12th 2016
and Milford Sound
: One of the side trips we had wanted to do was a trip to fjordlands on the west coast, a rugged coastline which looks as if it was lifted from Norway and dropped down on the bottom of the world. We drove through beautiful agricultural land, heavily populated by sheep and cattle and deer. It took a day to drive the 490 kilometers, winding roads passing through little towns with names like Geraldine, Twizel and Cromwell (markers of the European settlers that came after 1840.) This area is blessed with beautiful finger lakes slotted in between mountains. The lakes have maintained their Maori names such as Tekapo and Wakatipu on which Queenstown is located.
Queenstown is the outdoor sports capital of the South Island, located as it is near lakes, mountains, ski fields and fjords. It is more touristic than we had expected; sort of like Moab on steroids. It is an amphitheater on a long lake with views for everyone. We decided to have one day in Queenstown and enjoy some of those tourist attractions. We took the gondola to the top of the mountain overlooking Queenstown in the morning. After a delicious
lake side lunch we hopped aboard the TSS Earnslaw, the last surviving steamship on Lake Wakatipu, and visited a farm on the western shore of the lake. We enjoyed the sheep shearing and sheep herding demonstrations and marveled how early farmers existed on huge farms without roads. We learned that sheep shearing has become a competitive skill; the most recent competition winner sheared his sheep in 41 seconds (this according to our sheep shearing guide.) John asked how they kept track of the sheep on these vast mountain farms. "Dogs" was the answer. We learned that on a big farm with maybe 20,000 sheep there might be 19-20 working dogs. The numbers astound. We enjoyed the herding demonstration and we were reminded of our dog, Saffy, who was an Australian Shepherd and looked so much like these border collie mixed breed dogs.
For the first time ever, we signed up for a coach trip, to visit Milford Sound (It should really be called a fjord we were informed) which started with an early pickup near our hotel at 7 AM. Our young female bus driver was fabulous, guiding us through the very challenging route that took at least 4
hours plus interesting stops along the way. We boarded a boat for the journey up the fjord to the ocean and back. It was beautiful but overwhelming in scale. All around us were waterfalls cascading from mountain sides, small seal colonies and some bird activity. The dolphins were missing! A beautiful but challenging environment, Then back in the coach for another harrowing 4 hours which included a kilometer long one way tunnel (stoplights controlled traffic each way). John was very glad that he did not do the driving. All together the trip was wonderful but then there is gorgeous scenery everywhere one goes in New Zealand. Hopefully some of the attached photographs will show that.
Tot: 1.383s; Tpl: 0.089s; cc: 11; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0332s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb