Monday, November 15, 2010


Due to filming on the Hobbiton set, we are banned from discussing or posting photos on the Internet. I will say that it was a fun visit.

So instead, a photo of a lamb at the end of the Hobbiton tour (Hobbiton is located on a working farm). They also did a sheep shearing demonstration. It's crazy how much wool comes off a single sheep!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Franc Josef Glacier

Our final strenuous adventure... hiking a glacier! Donned some crampons and hiked up the glacier for several hours. Our guides used pick axes to carve stairs and footholds up the large waves of ice. Crawled into some blue ice caves. Definitely a unique and fun experience.

Chinese settlememt

A recreation of a Chinese settlement. The Chinese came in the mid 1800s to pan for gold. Due to discrimination during the gold rush, they created settlements isolated from the European settlers.

Wine tour

Enjoyed a tour of 4 vineyards near Queenstown. The area is known for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blancs.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Nothing more serene and relaxing than fishing on Queenstown's pristine Lake Wakatipu. Caught two salmon and a brown trout. Two hours later had a local restaurant cook one of the salmon for the freshest fish lunch possible. Delicious!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Welcome to Paradise: Part II

Every country we have visited has left us awe-struck in such different ways, New Zealand being no exception. From the moment our airplane landed amid snow-capped mountains, we knew we were going to love it. And fall in love we have! We have spent one week in Fiordland on the west coast of NZ's south island. Queenstown and Te Anau are both small, lakeside towns that offer so many activities and loads of hiking!

We set out on the Milford Track, one of NZ's most popular Great Walks. It is a 4-day, 3-night hike to the Milford Sound and is approximately 33.5 miles. Being inexperienced hikers and generally people who aren't used to "roughing it," we weren't really sure what to expect. We bought and rented sleeping bags, rain gear, cooking equipment, food, trekking poles, etc. We stayed in huts for three nights with only freezing cold water and no heat. Since summer has yet to begin, it was still very cold up in the mountains! Nonetheless, it was all part of the experience and we had such a great time!

The hike itself was a big challenge, especially on the third day when it rained and rained. Fiordland is one of the wettest places in the world, and it can get up to nine meters of rainfall in a year. That day, it rained 30ml in about half a day. The ascent to McKinnon Pass was tiring and took our breath away, and the temperature quickly dropped once we were above the tree line and the wind became quite strong. We descended 1,000 meters in three hours using the emergency track due to avalanche danger. We passed a few areas of avalanche debris and had to walk through rushing waters to stay on track! At times, we could hear avalanches in the distance. That was definitely a first! Day four brought sunshine to our 11-mile end. Though it was easier than the previous day, it was still no walk in the park.

When we returned to our hotel in Te Anau, we had never been happier to see a hot shower and luxurious bed. Our muscles may ache, but we are so happy to have completed the track! We can check that off the list. Also, while the rain impeded our view from the top and made walking that much harder, it created the most beautiful cascading waterfalls we have ever seen. It would not have been a true experience on the Milford Track without the rain.

Of course, the Milford Sound and Fiordland are gorgeous and something straight out of a movie. Literally. It's been used in movies like The Lord of the Rings and X-Men. One day here and you can see why as it really is very special. We are so excited to continue exploring the west coast and to see glaciers!