Monday, March 14, 2011

Daddy & Erinn tour New Zealand - Part II

When last I left you Daddy Piller and I were leaving Wanaka in our trail of dust and headed South en route to the great Fiordland National Park. 
Our full route from Wellington to Dunedin
Prior to my dad’s arrival, I had a heart to heart with Mother Nature and so far, it seemed that she had been keeping up her end of the bargain. We spent our first day on the outskirts of the park and spent the afternoon relaxing and getting caught up with family and friends via the local internet cafĂ©. The next day we enjoyed the first leg of the Kepler Track. Unlike the mountainous terrain that we had traversed in the days prior, the Kepler took us along a winding path through rainforest to the glorious lake Manapouri.
Kepler Track
Swing bridge
Cruising the boardwalk
Red tree
Colourful fungi decorate the forest floor
Meandering the rainforest toward Lake Manapouri
Enjoying our reward
Lake Manapouri was a great first taste of the great Fiordland National Park. But it wasn’t until the next day that we truly got into the thick of the mountains. The following morning we made our way up to Milford Sound where we boarded a boat with 18 others and set sail deep into the sounds for an overnight cruise. The views - a symphony of waterfalls falling out of thousands (literally) of crevasses that time has created. The food – beautiful seafood, grilled veggies, roast beef. Yum! The company – Australians, Malaysians, fellow Canucks. So fun! Absolutely everything was spectacular. I truly cannot put into words the majestic power that these mountains have. So I guess I’ll stop trying and will simply let the pics tell the story…

The Milford Mariner
Our room
Milford Sound

To give you a little perspective - the waterfall in the middle is three times the height of Niagara
Misty mountains
Snow on the mountain tops
A double rainbow!
Out at the Tasman Sea looking into the mouth of Milford Sound
Homer's tunnel - a 1.27 km long tunnel that works its way through these spectacular cliffs
Next on the grand tour was a road trip to Dunedin through Central Otago. Dunedin is a town of about 132,000 people and is the home of much of the country’s arts and culture. It also has some stunning architecture, amazing cafes, and some killer surfing! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to get some surfing in but we certainly didn’t waste the two days that we had left for our adventures.
Dunedin train station
Inside the station
Beautiful tile work
Dunedin graffiti
Dunners art gallery
Doorway in town
On our last full day, we hit the road again and made our way up the Otago Peninsula. This peninsula together with its 20 km long Otago Harbour is home to a huge colony of Royal Albatross and the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin. The roads in this area are incredibly steep and the drive was incredibly rugged and yet the sharper the shoulders got and the higher up we drove, the more beautiful the views.
Yellow Eyed Penguin hospital. Where penguins go to get better before being released back into the wild
Happy feet!
Baby penguin waiting for its parents to return with some grub
Look closely and you'll see the underground bunkers from which we were able to get up close and personal looks at the beautiful penguins
The view from the penguins' homes. Pretty decent real estate!
Entering the tunnels
Exploring the tunnels
Penguin neighbours chilling by the bay
The royal albatross has a 3m wing span - the second largest albatross in the world
On our very last day in the South Island, we took a quick drive north of Dunedin to check out the Moeraki boulders. These boulders and basically huge spherical stones that look like they’ve been strewn along a stretch of Koekohe Beach near the town of Moeraki. Over millions of year these boulders have been exposed through shoreline erosion from black mudstone coastal cliffs that back the beach. It is here that our trip had come to an end. It was time for us to pack our bags and catch our flight back to Wellington where we had a day and a half left to make the most of daddy-daughter time.
Seagull takes a rest
Moeraki boulders

On Monday morning I took him to the Wellington Botanic Gardens to check out my office, meet my colleagues and get one final glimpse of beautiful windy Welly from above. It was really nice to be able to show him the place I’ve been calling home for the past 8 months and to give him to chance to put faces to names. That afternoon, he caught his flight to Auckland – San Fran – YYZ. As his plane was passing overhead and I was running along the waterfront, I saw a pod of orcas wandering into the Wellington harbour – an incredibly rare occurrence. I hope that he was able to see them from above as he bid farewell to this fantastic country. I miss him already but am so happy that he was able to visit while I was here. It was really great to see him and catch up. Now it’s only a matter of months before we see him once more and we start calling ‘The Big Smoke’ home again!

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