Monday, February 6, 2017

Last Day: Mt. Cook, and New Friends

On the hike through the Hooker Valley, we didn't have great weather so Mt. Cook lost in the clouds. But just like most days on this trip, bad weather one day led to great views the next, and our last day of the trip (yesterday) was no exception. Before heading to Christchurch for my flight out, we had lovely weather and stunning views of New Zealand's highest peak.
Mt Cook
And then it was time to say good-bye to the exceptional people I met on the tour...
Dale
Peter
Jack and Lisa (4th and 5th from left)
Mike
Terry and Emily
Claudia and Jennifer
our awesome leaders: Merisha and Bas
  
It was a fabulous trip with great scenery, great hikes, fun activities, and a really great company.  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Lake Pukaki

After hiking out of the Hooker Valley, we drove along Lake Pukaki for a while, which is a beautiful blue lake fed by the Tasman River, and one of several lakes in the area which has been dammed for hydroelectricity. 

Mt. Cook / Hooker Valley Hike

This was a very long hike, 8 miles round-trip, but it wasn't particularly difficult although there were several swinging bridges high above gushing glacial rivers to cross. Terry, a structural engineer in the group, declared the bridges quite sound, although I'm not sure how comforted Jennifer, who isn't super-thrilled with heights, was by this assessment. 


photo by Terry L. 
The hike ended with the Hooker Glacier in the background, icebergs floating in front of us, and a picnic lunch with a view. 

Tasman Valley Hike

 




Thursday, February 2, 2017

Another Possible Activity in Queenstown

No one in our group was inclined to participate but we stood near the bridge and watched the other brave/crazy souls jump.




Ben Lomond Hike - Queenstown

This was one of the best hikes of the trip. We took the gondola up above Queenstown and then walked through a pine forest (pine forests are in the process of being eradicated in NZ as they are not native, along with possums and stoats), then through some scrub-brush, over some rocks, and along a knife-edged path, up and over the hill, and back down to the gondola. It was a beautiful day and even though there was a short-cut back that didn't involve a sheer drop off over one side, all of us opted for the longer, difficult route, although in all honesty, Bas didn't really offer the shortcut while we were on the trail (he mentioned it before we started), and I think no one (including me) wanted to wuss out and ask.
View of Lake Wakatipu





Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Queenstown

Ever since I was a small child, I've had the occasional vivid dream that I was flying... 


 
My very chilled out pilot, Beau, said "we can do a few tricks..." I said, "how about we try one and see how it goes?"
and then the earth went sideways. 
this is Beau asking me if I'm ok and me replying "that was awesome!"
Hang gliding is the exact same sensation as flying in my dreams. 

That adventure was followed by jet boating on the Shotover River:
... the spine-jarring nature of which pretty much necessitated that the day end here: