Monday, 22 February 2010

Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo

Last week we had some good walks in the Mount Cook National Park and around Lake Tekapo, enjoying the mountain splendour and great views.

Mount Cook, also known by its Maori name, Aoraki meaning 'Cloud Piercer' is the highest point of New Zealand at 3754 metres. The mountain is snow capped and it was very special to watch
sunrise and sunset over it. We stayed at the Alpine Lodge which has fantastic views over Mount Cook and the area. The lodge reminded us of university accommodation, (the smart kind!), with a shared kitchen and lounge. It was a great place to stay. This photo shows Mt Cook in the distance.

Approximately 100 kms from Mount Cook is Lake Tekapo. The lake is the most amazing turquoise colour in the sunlight - caused by particles of rock which have been ground down by the glacier and are suspended in the water.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Milford Sound and The Catlins

The guide books tried their best to put me off visiting Milford Sound! 'The most touristy place in New Zealand; up to 7 metres of rainfall a year; beware of the sandflies!'
The boat trip up the sound, (which is actually a fiord) is spectacular and one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.
It didn't rain, there weren't many other tourists there the day we went and we didn't see any sandflies!
Milford Sound is only one of about 40 fiords that make up this remote and inaccesable part of New Zealand known as Fiordland.

This week we have been in The Catlins, the very south of the country, and stood on the most southerly tip of New Zealand which is probably the closest I'll ever get to the Antarctic! The Catlins are rugged, remote and wild with rocky coastline, sandy coves, windswept trees and where the wind feels like it's blowing fresh from the Antarctic at times. It takes some getting used to that a south wind is cold and a north wind is warm! The light is very bright with brilliant blue skies. One of the attractions of The Catlins is the wildlife. We have seen lots of seals, some Royal Spoonbills and watched rare Yellow-eyed Penguins coming out of the water and waddling slowly up the beach to their nests from a distance. If you click on the very small penguin picture you can just about see it's yellow crown! Went for a walk along a remote beach and I almost tripped over a sea-lion half-buried and asleep in the sand (not a good idea!).