Saturday, April 7, 2012

west coast

From Wanaka, we drove over the Southern Alps through Haast Pass to get to the rugged West Coast of the South Island.  In New Zealand, the prevailing winds come from the west, so the West Coast gets a lot of rain (up to 7-8 meters in some places), which makes for densely forested mountains and coasts.  The drive through Haast Pass is beautiful, and Lonnie, the kids, and I had done part of the drive during our trip a year ago.  This time, we ended up with rainy weather during our drive this year, so the views were a bit obscured.  Even so, misty mountains and waterfalls were still a highlight of the drive.

Arriving at the town of Haast on the coast, we drove north to Franz Josef and stayed in a holiday home located in the forest.  The holiday home was really nice, but Patsy was a bit disturbed when we found a little furry friend (mouse) that Lynne and Lonnie sent to its grave.

Franz Josef is little tourist town located next to Westland Tai Poutini National Park.  The tourist attractions in this area are Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.  We hadn't visited this part of NZ yet, and Lonnie was particularly excited to see the glaciers.  Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are notable because the glaciers extend from frozen alpine areas at the top to subtropical rain forest at the bottom.  It was awesome to do short hikes up valleys with rocky bottoms and forested mountains with waterfalls cascading off cliffs and then see glaciers extending up steep valleys.  We ended up a pretty good rainstorm while we were in Franz Josef, so we had to squeeze in the hikes in between the heavy rains.

From Franz Josef, we drove north to Greymouth.  Along the way, we stopped at a nature center in Hokitika.  The nature center had a kiwi exhibit, and fortunately the kiwis came out while we were there.  The nature center also had a really cool eel exhibit with eels that are 6-8 fee long and over 100 years old.

After a night in Greymouth, we drove north to Westport.  Along the way, we stopped at Punakaiki, which has a place called the Pancake Rocks and a great little nature trail.  We also stopped at Cape Foulwind where there is a seal colony.  From the viewpoint at Cape Foulwind, we saw the seals and even spotted a couple dolphins swimming offshore.  From Westport, we drove through the mountains to get to Nelson.

Next to the Blue Pool along the Haast Pass highway.  Unfortunately, the pool wasn't blue because of all the rainwater.
Fox Glacier in the background.  Maya was tired of hiking and felt the need to pout a bit.
Franz Josef Glacier in the background.
Trent has great big smiles to share.
Spot along the coast where people had written their names on these white rocks.  We added ours.
Along the trail to Franz Josef Glacier.
Glacier + cliffs + waterfalls = awesome!
Along the trail to Franz Josef Glacier.
Rocky beach near Okarito, which is 30 minutes from Franz Josef.
Trent chillin' on a concrete couch at a beach in Hokitika.
Driftwood sculptures at a beach in Hokitika.
Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.
Grumpy Max...
turning a bit happier.
Sign at Cape Foulwind.
Trent really likes to go on hikes in the sling.
Smiley Maya
Along the trail at Cape Foulwind.
Trail at Cape Foulwind.

Friday, April 6, 2012

southern lakes and fiordland

We have been neglectful with blogging because our desktop computer is having trouble....and I have three busy kids....but at least we are having fun and enjoying life.  Still, I definitely want to record something about the awesome trip with had with Lonnie's parents.

We started by flying from Auckland to Queenstown, which is a picturesque resort town in the mountains of southern New Zealand.  Queenstown is about a 90 minute flight from Auckland, and the kids were great on the flight.  We rented a mini van in Queenstown and spent a relaxed afternoon.

The next day was Sunday, and we went to church at the little Queenstown branch.  They meet in a rented house and had about 20 people in sacrament meeting, including us and a few other tourists.  After church, we drove south to Te Anau, which is a town that sits at the gateway to Fiordland National Park. We spent three nights at a great holiday home in Te Anau.  One day was spent going to Milford Sound, which we think is a must visit in New Zealand.  That was a spectacular day!  We also enjoyed seeing native birds at an aviary in Te Anau, and of course the kids enjoyed playing at parks and along the beach at Lake Te Anau.

Leaving Te Anau, we drove north back through Queenstown and stopped in nearby Arrowtown, which has restored buildings from the late 1800s gold mining boom.  From there, we continued on to Wanaka, which is a smaller version of Queenstown...mountain resort town situated on a beautiful lake.  We stayed one night in Wanaka before moving along to the West Coast of the South Island.
Rainbow at Lake Te Anau
Once they start into the water, they can't be stopped.
Maya and Max on the cruise at Milford Sound
Milford Sound
On the cruise at Milford Sound...Trent is a champ at breastfeeding.
Looking back into Milford Sound from the Tasman Sea.
Lynne and Patsy enjoying the views just offshore from Milford Sound.  Lynne was excited to hear about Australia when the cruise captain said it was about a three day trip across the Tasman Sea to Tasmania.
Lonnie with Trent sleeping in a sling.
Smiley Max
They really like each other.  They talk about when they are going to marry each other.
They occasionally stop long enough for photos.
Milford Sound is awesome!!!
Max likes to say "just the boys".
And Maya likes "girl time".
Smiley Maya
View from the marina at Milford Sound.
Mitre Peak is the iconic landmark of Milford Sound.  It rises up over 5.000 feet from sea level.
Parakeet native to a subantarctic NZ island that we saw at the aviary.
Max hunting for rocks along the shore of Lake Te Anau.
Hugging a possum at the Fiordland National Park visitors center.
Smiley Trent and Mom
Take 2
Maya and Trent at the restored Chinese gold rush era village in Arrowtown.
Everywhere we go, people comment on Maya's red, curly locks.
Playground in Queenstown.
Maya at Lake Wanaka.
Lake Wanaka take 2.
Max at the rocky beach of Lake Wanaka.
Lynne, Maya, Max, and Alisa at Lake Wanaka.
Hanging out on the cruise at Milford Sound.