This is New Zealand
New Zealand is magnificent. Here are 20 photos from our recent trip to give you a taste. Perhaps, overseas readers, you will be inspired to travel to this awe-inspiring country. I hope you’ll click on the photos to enlarge them so that you can really appreciate the splendour of the landscapes.
Our Air New Zealand flight is a direct 7 hour service from Perth, Australia to Christchurch, New Zealand. The early morning sun is hitting the distant Southern Alps but is not yet on the Christchurch Airport tarmac.
God points a finger in the clouds. This is somewhere in the vicinity of a place which is called Paradise. (That is REALLY its name.) Somewhere near Glenorchy. (I lost my sunglasses in Paradise.)
I often photograph out of the car window as Matthew speeds along. This is a view of the Remarkables – a mountain chain near Queenstown.
We have driven through Te Anau on the way towards Milford Sound. Anybody going to Milford should drive in. The drive there is as wonderful as the arrival itself.
Afternoon shadows on the eastern side of the Homer Tunnel. One must go through the Homer Tunnel to get to Milford. The tunnel goes right under a mountain and was built during the Depression. The terrain is so steep that it takes your breath away. Apparently there is a nude run down the tunnel once per year. Those kiwis!
Milford Sound in the late afternoon. The peak is the famous and much-photographed Mitre Peak. The plant is Austroderia toetoe (commonly spelled toi toi).
Milford Track is an internationally known walk. It takes several days to do the whole thing. We went on a guided half-day walk starting from the Milford end. The morning was crisp…luckily…a little too cold for the infamous sandflies.
Early morning on the Milford Track with the sun poking between the trees.
In the afternoon we cruise on Milford Sound. Though it is called a ‘sound’ it is actually a ‘fiord’ as it was formed by glaciation. Just look how steep those cliffs are!
A day or two later we are driving down to the southern coast of the South Island. This little school was built in 1913. I can’t resist a photo as we zoom past. I think this is Otahu Flat.
These ladies don’t notice me photographing them as they gaze out to sea. They are trying to decide if they can see Stewart Island or not. They can’t as the atmosphere is too misty.
I always like road signs in landscapes. They are so graphic. This sign is warning the driver that the descent is steep. Change down. This is typical of the landscape of Otago. We are crossing Lindis Pass.
Aoraki Mount Cook in the distance. Elevation 3754 metres, the highest peak in the Southern Alps. And we are driving there. See how the mountains are framed between the clouds and the lake-frontage. Beautiful.
We are walking up the Hooker Valley in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. I take this photo of Hooker River from a swinging bridge.
A word about Aoraki Mount Cook before I go on with my photos. Aoraki Mount Cook is the only place to have its English name preceded by its Maori name. In 1998 it was renamed from Mount Cook to “Aoraki Mount Cook” to incorporate its Maori heritage in a settlement between Kai Tahu and the Crown and is gifted to the nation. (I read that in the Hermitage Hotel where we stayed.)
Look at these colours! This water is pure and won’t harm you at all to drink even if it looks cloudy. Geography lesson: As the glaciers move through the valleys they grind and crush the brittle Sandstone, Greywacke and Schist rocks found in the National Park. This creates a fine powder known as Glacial Rock Flour which is suspended in the water in high concentrations and gives the water a milky appearance. That cliff of gravel is called moraine.
This is a photo of HAPPINESS. Matthew is delighted to be walking in the Hooker Valley. Fifth generation New Zealander goes home!
The reward for a couple of hours walking up the Hooker Valley is the sight of the Hooker glacier and lake. These rock-looking things in the lake are icebergs. If you look closely you can see two artists sitting on the rocks painting…en plein air.
In the afternoon Matthew and I take a GLACIER EXPLORERS tour. We are taken onto Lake Tasman and in little boats we get right up to the icebergs. We can even taste them. The frozen water in the icebergs is 300 to 600 years old. The ice tastes delicious.
Lake Tasman and Tasman Glacier. Lake Tasman didn’t exist before 1973. It started as a puddle and grew and grew as the Tasman Glacier retreated. I visited it 10 years ago as well as on this trip. Every year the lake gets more enormous as the glacier retreats. The dark-looking cliff in the distance is the terminal face of the glacier. Last time a huge bit of the glacier sheared off was on February 22nd, 2011. In other words…the day of the massive Christchurch earthquake.
A kea (alpine parrot) flies in front of Mount Sefton. This photo is taken from our hotel room at The Hermitage Hotel early in the morning. What a wonder to wake to the sound of keas calling.
Driving back to Christchurch we stop at Mount John Observatory where there is a fantastic café (not to mention telescopes). Mount John Observatory is run by the University of Canterbury. I photograph Lake Tekapo from up here. This is Mackenzie Country.
I named my post after a film called “This is New Zealand” made in 1969 for Expo 70 in Osaka. I could try to tell the story about the film but it is beautifully told already on the internet…here. The film is set to the music of Sibelius’ “Karelia Suite”. I watched it when I was 10 years old. It made such an impression on me that I can’t look at mountains without a mental soundtrack of Sibelius. You can even see a three minute snippet of the film by clicking on http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/this-is-new-zealand-1970/ You’ll get the idea…
I enjoy a pink-iced cream-filled bun – unique to New Zealand. Matthew took this photo.
I suppose I should have called my post “This is the South Island” as we only visited that island on our holiday. But then I couldn’t have harked back to the National Film Unit 3-strip Expo film from my childhood. South Islanders think their island is the best anyway and call it the Mainland. Next time we’ll revisit the North Island.
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