Monday, November 16, 2015

Target: Milford Sound

Series of 2 posts: 

Queenstown to Milford Sound
Milford Sound Cruise

Milford Sound is in the South Island of New Zealand. We took a plane from Auckland to Queenstown, have a lodging place in Queenstown, and the 2nd day took another 5 hour bus ride to Milford Sound. The actual Milford Sound Cruise is actually only 1 hr 45 min, after which another 5 hours to return to Queenstown. But the long way to and from Milford Sound is a wonderful tour in itself. The 10-hr bus ride will not be felt at all, you wouldn't feel like sleeping because you might miss something that will be seen only once!  

Milford Sound is known as one of the world's most spectacular fiords, a 22-km-long fiord situated in a magnificent alpine landscape within the UNESCO World Heritage Fiordland National Park. The latter itself is 12,500 square kilometers, with extraordinary beauty as having "superlative natural phenomena and outstanding examples of the earth's evolutionary history". 

We took the Nakedbus Tours Itinerary. This is the Summary of our day tour, which i substantiated with my photos:

Depart Queenstown at 7.30am (6.50am in winter) by Coach for Milford Sound. We head south through breathtaking scenery along Lake Wakatipu, and past the The Remarkables Range.

Then to high country pastures surrounded by mountains followed by beautiful farm country plains. Heading west towards the mountains and Te Anau we pass through some of New Zealand most scenic farm country. Around us are clear streams & rivers, world famous for their trout fishing.

We stop at Te Anau for refreshments (price not included), overlooking Fiordland National Park for approx. 30 minutes. We then begin our trip to Milford, stopping several times for photo opportunities!

We travel north alongside Lake Te Anau entering The Fiordland National Park World Heritage area. This park has some of the most spectacular and memorable scenery in the world.

Then into beech forests, past tranquil lakes and crystal clear rivers as we climb steadily into the very heart of the mountains. Passing through mist covered valleys, carved out by rock and ice to reach the Homer Tunnel, the gateway to Milford Sound is through a huge mountain. Starting our descent into Milford Sound we travel from cloud capped forest peaks into the subtropical west coast valleys of Milford Sound. We arrive at Milford Sound at approximately 1pm.

We then embark on a 1hr 45 minute cruise of the Milford Sound before leaving for Queenstown at approx. 2.45pm. We stop at Te Anau again for 20 minutes or so on the way back, and arrive back in Queenstown at 7.30pm.

From the laminated guide at the bus seat pockets, i want to read it fully but 
not able to do so, as i might miss the sceneries outside the running bus.

Our Nakedbus

the bus' glass roof, it was a lovely day

circuitous road along the Lakes, on of which is Lake Te Anau

 i will not miss posting this rainbow on that frosty mountain top

 cattle and sheep grazing on the flatlands along the way

 How do you like those trees at the ridge?I wont let that pass without notice!

 and i find those grasses interesting

A little stop at Te Anau center for some snacks gave me some flowers. And what 
do you think that man is doing at the center aisle? If only we have time to spare, 
i will approach him and ask!

Along the lakes are wonderful profuse growths of lupines, i wished we stopped here 
to get better photos of these growths, i've read that the scene is one 
of the spectacular sights at South Island. 

This is near the Monkey Creek, where the driver-guide enticed us to drink. He said it is 
one of the few places you can safely drink natural water at its purest. We tried a little 
and eventually throw the original contents of our water bottles because 
it really tastes so pure, almost sweet because of its purity. 

 How about those waterfalls at the center of these forests? This sight occurred
seemingly often along this route, as a lot of waterfalls are scattered left and right.
But we need to stop and get that longer lens, which i didn't carry,
and we didn't stop! lol

 This is labeled as the Mirror Lakes, where the mountains clearly manifest
on the water during clear days. That day however, it was cloudy
and we only saw the mirror.

I am awed at the properly constructed walks to the designated stops. Safety 
of the tourists is very well accounted for. I truly felt envy 
at theseprecautions and developments. 

 We stopped at this area, a protruding layby-lookout is built at the side of the road. 

 There is a waterfalls below that river, we just heard the sound but it is fully covered by the forest.

Rapid change in types of vegetation is seen in this landscapes. Our very talented 
and humorous driver guide said if we are in a continent, we passed by the 
Great Continental Divide, but since it is not a continent we can say we passed the
 Great Divide because of the sudden obvious change in vegetation.

 Every type of geographical landscape is seen on this route, maybe except for a desert. 
Lakes, flat farms, undulating farms, green forests, mossy forests, rocky mountains,
 snowy mountains,mountains with snowcaps, mountains with icebergs. 
OMG what i read at the internet about these areas are all true! 
They are even more awesome in real life! 

Homer Tunnel, a 1.2 km  route carved out of towering mountains, a stunning feat
of engineering technology. Above is on our way back from Milford Sound,
because i wasn't able to take its photo at the other side. It is 8km south
of The Chasm, carved out of towering mountains,
a stunning feat of engineering.

the glaciers on top of the mountains

Left is an enlarged lake viewed from the lookout i mentioned above; Right is the flowing waterfalls
 at The Chasm, a very deep partition of the earth with a series of uniquely shped rocks and potholes formed by the Cleddau River through the narrow abyss. The Chasm is 8km before reaching Milford Sound, is reached through a few minutes nature walk. The waterfalls is not seen fully because 
of the rocks covering it, but the roar signifies a tall big drop. There is a constructed bridge 
on top of the Chasm for people to see fully and feel the depth and power of the water. 
In my case, for my fear of heights, my knees felt like buckling off and i wasn't able 
to keep pace with my companions, felt like melting. 

To be continued with Milford Sound Cruise!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Arrowtown Hike 3

Arrowtown Post 3

Arrowtown is a perfect outdoor environment for a selection of hiking trails and guided walks. There are choices for short walks, long hour walks, or multi-day walks. There are public walking trails you can do on your own, or enlist in guided walking tours. The latter is a bit expensive, so we hiked on our own, we just followed the trail. 

We chose the one-hour walk inclusive of the return trip. We are starting at 1:00 pm so we have enough time to linger anywhere and return safely. We chose the Bush Creek Trail, but there are also Arrow River Trail, Big Hill Trail, Sawpit Gully Trail.

 That is the forked path, ours is the left trail, among these profusion of yellow-orange bushes.

 We are just supposed to be following the trail at the side of this creek as the name implies Bush Creek Trail and that tree branch crossing the water is the mark that we must return. The road from there already goes up to the right and the end of the water view.

I am so fascinated with the clear running water, shooting some small rapids like above and some unfamiliar plants. When there was a lady and her dog who told us that in a few meters the scenes around the path will be turning spectacular. She is an Australian lady, now a resident of the area, who often walks here with her dog. So go we went, way ahead of the marker that supposed to be our trail end. We were excited to see what the lady describes so animatedly, but did not specify what it really is! There are no markers for each particular trail, so we just continue the path. 

There is a profusion of this golden bushes surrounding the path, as far as your eyes can see, we decided this is what the lady is talking about. Yes it is really awesome and spectacular. Going through a tunnel space converged by these golden bushes is quite an experience. And the scent is also sweet and attractive. I cannot describe the scent but it is lovely. At that moment i thought of the flower and bush fairies making the scent so wonderful.

These are brooms, in Tribe Genisteae, mostly composed of 3 genera one of which is Cytisus scoparius. It is considered invasive in New Zealand, but no doubt it is very beautiful. Can you imagine us under those bushes, feeling like fairies because of the lovely sweet scent permeating in the air? We didn't see anybody nor see any animal, but we can still hear the water movement farther left. 

There are also lovely ferns in the thicket, luxuriously growing with other weeds.

 Another fern with slightlyfolded growing tips yet. 

 This path is already going uphill and we rested a few times to breath. I managed to make a few clicks in the camera despite my labored breaths. There is still a stiffer path on the way beyond this stage. A few meters ahead we again encountered a pair of trampers, who said it is lovely at the top of the path. So we never went back, we just went on. We are very much further away than our plan of walking just along the water edge. I guess this 2nd leg of our trek is already the Sawpit Gully Trail.

This group of golden mushrooms are growing luxuriously on the path sides together with the dandelions. I wonder why these mushrooms are so bright in color, ours in the tropics are just the light brown.

view from the top see a portion of the town, the sea and some mountain snowcaps

After one and a half hour we reached the almost summit, a flat portion of the landscape. We call it the summit because we can already see the other side. But the trail said it is a loop down again to Arrowtown. However, after walking a few hundred meters more with already a different drier vegetation, we saw a forked path. We vascillated where to go, so we tried the left path which seems to be endless. The right however looks just like a path of some animals and not normally used by men. We lingered awhile, waiting for some wisdom to arrive. Wisdom or no wisdom, this confusion made us change our plan. Instead of trying further ahead and get lost, we finally decided to return the same way behind us. We at least will see that path twice.

We saw a lady and her daughter a few meters on our way back. We told them our confusion and they said the right path we thought is an animal track, is the way back to Arrowtown. She was sorry there was no label on that forked path that made us return using the former path. She said to discuss it with the association. And we continued trodding back on our already familiar path. It was already easier now as we are going down. If we continued the left uphill path it is already the Big Hill Trail, which entails many hours. It would have been better if the ends of the paths, and the fork paths are well labeled.

 Finally, in reaching the bottom of the trail again we encounter this profuse growths of lupines. OMG, my favorite temperate flowers are here free for touching and taking photos. There are so many colors; blue, violet, pink, orange, pink, white and variations in between. I cannot stop my feeling of awe, this landscape is really spectacular. The spikes are also very tall and healthy, compared to what we saw in other areas. I forgot my tired legs and my hunger. That is the first time i see luxurious growth and widely growing lupines!


We didn't forego the chance of having our pictures taken with my favorite flowers.  We were both exhilarated and thrilled. 

This landscape now adorn my desktop. 

Our target of having a one-hour hike ended up to be more than 3 hours. We returned at past 4:00 pm, just in time for the bus going back to Queenstown. We were so happy for the experiences, and also thankful that we were not lost in looking for the right trail. Our lesson was: when confused which path to take, just turn back via the familiar way. We felt we were also guided. Thanks to the fairies on the way.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

An Unplanned Hike in Arrowtown 2

Post 2

The last post was cut when we were feeding the birds, while resting on the grass under a tree. It was time we start for our next plan, the HIKE. Hiking in New Zealand has another term, TRAMPING.     . I told you earlier we had a plan to do some walking, there are clear marks where the trails are and the time needed to finish them. So we ventured on one, that which needs thirty minutes. We envision it is only on the low plains near the Arrowtown River, we ventured on the left.

the walking maps at the start of the trails

We agreed to try hiking, which the New Zealanders call tramping, just the short one since our legs are not primed to do that. However, there is a very clear way to the roadside and we ventured on that track first. It says there are art houses, so we braved the very hot sun along the road.

At least in Arrowtown, even if the sun is shining bright, the temperature is still a bit cold. We didn't remove our beanies and our sweaters. My sister's name is Emily and we didn't let this label without her photo.

Views are lovely along the road, and we passed by some private houses with nicely landscaped, trimmed gardens. I enjoyed the beautifully flowering hedges.

 We also crossed a few small bridge and found some bikers on the road.

After about 10 min walk we saw this Gallery, but we didn't enter. Instead we played with the dog that hastily welcomed us at the gate. The owner could be inside and his dog assistant is well-trained to entertain visitors. What a beautiful landscape!

 my dream natural landscape to live

We continued walking through the hot sideroad till we saw this wonderful rocky landscape. We both agreed that this is our dream house setting, a medium height rocky mountain at the background, with lush colorful flowers. The entrance walk was long so again we didn't enter, but appreciated the well maintained garden just at the gate. I had a lot of photos here, as this seems to be paradise. The low house fits very well as part of the big landscape. We both feel envious to the owner of this property, he surely knows where to stay as inspiration to create fine arts.

At last i was able to see and touch a hedge of lavender, which i always just see in pictures. 

Another gallery on this road is named David John Gallery, i assumed he sells paintings and prints. 

We like to enter but that will lessen our time for tramping, so we decided to continue walking and find the start of the walk we intend the first time.

There was someone on a horse, wow, and her male companion was on a bike! We were thinking that maybe only one horse was available for rent when they needed it. Those profusely flowering yellow bushes are very prominent vegetation in these areas. I know it is invasive, but it definitely beautifies the total landscape in these areas.

 Eventually, we went back in less than an hour. We looked for the trail forking near us, to go to the real tramping track we intended to take. We  encountered this very tall Bombax tree shedding the white flower parts on the vicinity. My sister covered her face because these are allergens.

The ground is already covered with the shedding flower parts, just like dry snow. That's how we call it in the tropics, because we definitely don't experience snow. Our tree in the tropics is however called kapok, also a cousin of this species. Kapok is our old traditional bedding material.

 We also crossed this small very clear and clean brook. We didn't see the river but definitely this is flowing there. We wondered if it is also a part where gold panning was done in the 19th century. This area developed because of the gold rush.

Above is the beginning of our real trail track, which needs at least 30 min one way. I assure you we didn't finish it in one hour. A lot of things happened on the way, you will be surprised! And this escapade continues for the next part of my post. Stay tuned.

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