New Zealand South Island
Thursday 7 January 2016
In memory of Izzy
We just visited New Zealand for the first time, exploring by car and on foot. It's a very easy place to love, with stunning scenery that's so accessible, at least once we'd made the long journey south. For anybody from the UK there's a certain familiarity to some of the culture and even countryside, but it's different enough to make things interesting.
All these photos were taken with a Nikon D7200 and the new 16-80mm lens. Before I left I thought long and hard about bringing more camera equipment, but photography wasn't the top priority for the trip. I'm happy with the results - although on several occasions a longer lens would have been great for the wildlife.
We roughly followed the Southern Scenic Route through the Catlins, a delightful drive with plenty of stops for gentle walks along beaches and to waterfalls. There aren't too many people - local or tourists - down this part of the world.
This is one of the wettest places on the Earth, although we escaped with only some light rain and plenty of cloud. Nonetheless both Doubtful and Milford Sounds are enchanting places. If we'd had more time then exploring them slowly by kayak would have been wonderful - instead we took a cruise on Doubtful sound. Next morning we got up early to get ahead of the traffic and briefly visited Milford Sound, stopping off several times during the scenic drive there and back.
The Routeburn track is justifiably famous and needs booking well in advance to reserve accommodation. We only booked a couple of months ahead and consequently had two short days and one very long day, heading from the Divide to Routeburn Shelter. Fortunately the weather on the long day turned sunny and beautiful, giving us fine alpine views as we climbed out of the amazingly lush rainforest. We used the excellent Trackhopper service to transfer our car so it was waiting for us when we were done - the track is only 32km from end to end by foot but over 300km by road!
A few highlights of the drive up from Queenstown to Picton
Queen Charlotte Track
A long walk of 72km over three days, made much easier as our big bags with camping gear were transferred by boat for us - an excellent service by Beachcomber cruises. As it was hot and fairly hilly in places, we enjoyed some refreshing swims in the beautiful sea.
The West Coast
This was my favourite section of New Zealand - stunning sea and rainforest, with a backdrop of the Southern Alps with their glaciers.
We were lucky to see Mount Cook without clouds, the snowy peak dominating the surroundings.
After so long in the countryside, a quick visit to the city of Christchurch, still a construction zone after the earthquake.
I'd love to hear what you think...
email your comments