|that you are the eyes of the world ....
Blues, greens, stars, trees, mountains, streams, valleys, lakes, oceans, seas, rivers, canyons, waterfalls, rainforest's, rainbows, glaciers, fiord's, snow, ice, clouds, sun, moon, coral, crayfish, seals, dolphins, Saints!
I wish there was a little door somewhere that you could go through and wind up in my head for a while before getting thrown out on the side of the highway! The things I've seen, oh the things I've seen.
This past week has been exceptional. I have travelled up the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand through the Fiordlands and the High Country and the Southern Alps. During my travels I think of all of you often and wish I was able to share more words and pictures with you along the way. It is so hard to accurately describe and do justice to all that I am seeing and doing but I'll try.
I drove up from the bottom of NZ and stopped in Te Anau which is situated on a beautiful, peaceful lake. I was picked up from there the following morning by Tawaki Dive for a day in fiordland at Milford Sound. The early morning drive in through the fog and mist was a great way to start the day. In Milford Sound we jumped on the boat for a day on the water which turned out to be unbelievably spectacular. The area gets so much rain - over 300 days a year - that the sounds top layer of water is fresh water which gradually mixes with and finally turns to all salt water. When scuba diving through this it creates an illusion of shimmering or oily like vision. Very Cool. The other really unique feature is that due to the layer of fresh water it creates an environment where deep water (100 meters plus) species (black coral, red coral) actually grow at a relatively shallow depth and therefore can be viewed with tropical and shallow water species.
I did two dives that day and saw amazing underwater life, black coral, tubes, sea stars, crayfish and nudibranch to name a few along an incredible wall that dropped off to over 400 meters. On the surface we stopped by to see the resident seals and then were visited by a pod of dolphins (see video!). We went on shore to shower under a waterfall and take a "thermal bath". The boat itself also took a shower under a waterfall! The scenery and peacefulness of the sound is something I will never forget. On the drive back to Te Anau we stopped at "The Chasm", a wall of waterfalls and checked out a local glacier. What an incredible day!
I next journeyed to Queenstown for the obligatory adrenalin rush. Queenstown is famous for Bungy, Sky diving, Canyon Swings and the activity I choose Jet Boating. I took an exhilarating Jet Boating ride on the Shotover River. The Jet Boat shoots along at up to 80 Kilometers an hour skimming over sometimes only 10 centimeters of water and narrowly missing the rocks and boulders and then Wham! They throw it into a 360 degree spin. Awesome! (see videos!) Having checked that off my list I got the heck out of Queenstown before I got any more bright ideas.
The drive through the high country past Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and Mount Aspiring National Park was so picturesque that I had a hard time keeping the car on the road at times. Staring out the window and driving with my knee on the left side of the road can prove to be quite difficult.
I stopped for a night of rest, or so I thought, at a little place on the west coast called Haast and almost got eaten alive by Sand Flies. They are nasty little buggers that hurt when they bite and leave itchy welts that take weeks to go away. I'm covered in those welts! I wound up like a shut-in hiding in my Spaceship praying for dawn so I could hit the road and escape the Sand Flie nightmare. Well it's not all paradise out here on the road.
A short hop from Haast driving through forests and along coastal roads landed me in Fox Glacier. It is a little town that caters to visitors to the Glacier of the same name. It is situated smack in the middle of the Southern Alps nestled in between the Tasman Sea and Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. The weather was horrible and they had been cancelling trips for days when I arrived. I signed up for the following mornings Heli-Hike - weather permitting. Well, when the trip was scheduled to embark the following morning the mountain was fogged in and they were debating on cancelling the trip. By the time we got in the helicopter the sky started to clear and when I landed on the ice the sun was shinning!
For the next 3 hours my group hiked across the glacier ice and navigated ice arches and crawled through ice caves. WOW! What an unforgettable experience. The glacier is so vast it is mind boggling. It is 13 kilometers long and over 200 meters deep at the point I was hiking over. It moves at a rate of 3 metres to 1 meter a day depending on the slope of decent. It terminates at around 200 metres above sea level in a rainforest. Over 45 metres of snow a year add to the glacier which is actually expanding at the moment. The helicopter then flew us out to finish off a most amazing day of glacial exploration.
A few random things I stopped to do along the way was to visit Puzzle World just outside of Wanaka and I also went to the Sock Factory and Museum in Hokitika. Oh the things I've seen!
Today I am in Greymouth. I was able to find a nice Irish Bar to watch the New Orleans Saints win the Superbowl! Go Drew Brees! I enjoyed the game with some fellow Americans from San Francisco and a few other spectators from countries unknown. I even managed to enjoy an order of Nachos during the game - I don't even like Nachos?
So, It is off to .....?
I love and miss you all.