Catch up with my New Zealand travels with Parts 1 and 2!
This is it, guys: the home stretch of New Zealand picture-heavy posts! Sorry to have been clogging your feeds with these posts. (And THANKS to those who've looked and commented and encouraged me to keep on sharing my travels with y'all.)
Day 17: TranzAlpine Train, Greymouth
Today we woke up bright and early for a train ride through the heart of the Southern Alps to get to the west coast of the South Island! The TranzAlpine is ranked among the most beautiful train rides in the world, and pictures don't do it justice, but I hope you can sort of see why:
Three hours later, we arrived at our destination, the mining town of Greymouth on the West Coast.
Day 18: Franz Josef Glacier
The next day, we traveled down to our next stop: Franz Josef Glacier, the most visited glacier in New Zealand. A view of the glacial valley from a high vantage point:
But my favorite place at Franz Josef was Peter's Pool, a quaint little place a short walk off the main trail, where the still water perfectly reflects the glacier and surrounding mountains. We got there in the late afternoon, when the light was at its nicest:
Day 19: Wanaka
Wanaka, Wanaka, Wanaka. The boy and I composed songs (some of which were to the tune of Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song"...) to honor this gorgeous and relaxed up-and-coming lakeside town that was probably our favorite stop on our trip.
Day 20: Queenstown
It was with reluctance that we boarded the bus the next day. But we had a schedule to keep and several more stops to make... such as the first commercial bungy site in the world--A. J. Hackett Bungy, off the historic, restored Kawarau Bridge over the Kawarau River. Is that truly the color of the river?
I didn't go bungying because it was so prohibitively expensive there, but it's definitely near the top of my bucket list, so one day... one day...
We arrived in Queenstown, the adventure capital of NZ, in the early afternoon. The hostel was situated right at the edge of Lake Wakatipu, facing the Remarkables mountain range:
Day 21: Milford Sound
This day trip to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound was loooong (13 hours total: 5 hours driving each way, a two-hour cruise in the Sound--geologically, it's technically a fiord; the early English explorers got it wrong--an hour built in for photo + bathroom stops, etc.), but so worth it. Even the very drive there was an unforgettable experience in itself:
In fact, I may have enjoyed the ride to Milford Sound more than I did Milford Sound itself--though I certainly didn't complain about getting to see them all!
Day 22: Lake Tekapo
There are no words to describe this place. A hike up Mt John offered these views:
Nighttime around Lake Tekapo was equally stunning, first a sunset that lit the mountains and skies in colors of fire, and then a nearly flawless view of the Milky Way and a zillion stars at night.
Lake Tekapo was our last new stop on our trip. We arrived back in Christchurch the next day, and spent a final day there before flying back. My whole time in New Zealand was just one of those nearly perfect trips, and exactly my kind of place. Extraordinary views, few people, cool weather, lots of nature opportunities. I would go back in a heartbeat. If you ever want to go, just call me up.