Archive for February 19th, 2019

Here we are in New Zealand after months of travel–exciting! We studied long and hard to see what would be the best way to travel and where to go. As many of you know, New Zealand is a destination for avid Lord of the Ring fans. All the movies were filmed here and opportunities abound to visit the sites and picture yourself in the locations. However, neither Deb nor I were that interested in visiting those sites. It’s been so long since I’ve watched the movies that I can’t remember what the different geographies looked like … plus I read the books first so I already had an image in my mind of the places and the characters … none of which matched up here. So we kept our eyes open as we drove by the sites but we really wanted to experience the country itself.

That’s why we decided to visit the three largest islands … the North Island (1 week), the South Island (5 weeks), and Stewart Island (4 days). We started on the North Island …

We flew from Sydney to Auckland and stayed in the city one night. We found it to be a lovely city. We find ourselves frequently saying that we would have stayed somewhere longer … but you never know until you get there. We picked up a few items to use during our stay and visited an iconic brewery bar (see my beermentor.me page for that post).

The next day we picked up a rental car and drove to Rotorua. This was the start of our New Zealand birding … that’s for another post. We used the two days we stayed here to recharge our (human) batteries. We walked around the lake a little and checked things out in town. Probably wouldn’t go back unless it was to mountain bike in the Redwood forest ….

The lake had all kinds of character … from flat to wind-blown … the views were nice.You can see by the color of the water that it is full of minerals.Part of the lake is fed by these thermal springs … with a sulphuric smell.Obviously, you had to be careful around this area.It was a quaint town …

From there we went to the National Park in the middle of the island (kind of) to hike the Tongariro Crossing. This is a 20 kilometer Alpine Hike across the Volcanos. It was fantastic! I did it with about 1,000 of my closest tourist friends. Haha. It was so crowded and there were people from all over the world doing this crossing. It was still a great hike and it thinned out after we crossed the highest point (at 6,134 feet). Many people turn back at that point because they aren’t prepared for the weather or the altitude … here’s a sample video and a few photos.

https://1drv.ms/v/s!Al8npXcTM1M4huUBLnNlnhab_0YWig (Link to the Video)

Ok, I said it was 20Km … it’s only 19.4 Km.From the top of the hike looking down on the Emerald Lake.This is “Mount Doom” … inspiration for Mordor in Lord of the Rings.Hiking across the big crater (Caldera) at the top of this active Volcanic region.

We had scheduled ourselves for two full days to allow for changes in the weather. Since we were able to do the hike on the first day we changed plans and headed to Wellington a day early. It was a pleasant drive and we were able to visit a nature preserve right in the city — Zealandia. More about that in the birding post.

We visited Zealandia, turned in the rental car, and flew out the same day. It was very strange at the airport … we showed up early to prepare for the security checkpoint. There wasn’t one. You check in, drop your bags, and then off you go to the gate. Apparently for domestic flights to smaller destinations you don’t go through security. So … off we flew to Invercargill! Stand by for that post …

Stumbling Piper

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