Wednesday September 19 - Friday September 21, 2007
09.19.2007 - 09.21.2007 0 °F
Wednesday morning we drove out to the coast to Milford Sound and took a boat cruise around the Sound and out to the Tasman Sea (the body of water between Australia and New Zealand). At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it was magnificent. Words cannot describe... here are some pictures:
The Sound (note the LARGE cruise boat and three kayaks in the picture to get an idea of the scale):
Mitre Peak, at 1,692 meters, just over a mile high:
We drove back to Queenstown that afternoon and then caught the Stray bus back to Christchurch on Thursday morning. We made a few stops along the way, one of which was Lake Pukaki. I've never seen such a blue lake before. In the distance you can see Mt. Cook. It's 3,754 meters high (13,316 feet) and the highest in the Southern Alps. Someone told me it was also Mt Doom from the Lord of the Rings, but I looked it up and it is not. Mt Doom is somewhere on the North Island. Darn. (picture to come, check back soon)
Since our flight back to Sydney did not leave until Friday afternoon, we went to check out the Christchurch museum and, of course, learned a few fun facts. Christchurch is one of five cities that are considered a launching site for Antarctica. New Zealand was, in fact, at one time part of the Antarctic continent, which is why you can find certain species of penguin here and not in Australia (or elsewhere for that matter). The country lies on the edge of the Indo-Australian and Pacific plates, which are moving towards each other, and have formed the NZ Alps range. Apparently, they are growing at a rate of about 0.5 inches per year (I think that's fast) and, if it wasn't for the high rate of erosion, would be higher than the Himalayas. I don't really know if that last part is true, I just heard it on a DVD playing while on one of our boat tours, but it sounds impressive, doesn't it?
New Zealand has several indigenous species of plant and animal, most famous being the Kiwi bird. I didn't see any wild Kiwis, but we found some stuffed ones at the museum. They are larger than I thought.
Here's a link to the rest of my photos: http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSignin.jsp?Uc=8wl5x2t.6go9w58p&Uy=-82ag77&Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0