07 June 2010

New Zealand - Jan 2001, 2006, 2008 & 2012

"We do sell food over here you know". The customs officer glared at us.
"Well, we weren't sure what was going to be available to us, what the serving sizes would be and so on, and we didn't want to spend the first day of our holiday in a supermarket" we explained nervously as the New Zealander waved us through, "… not in such a beautiful country", I added hopefully.

As if you need to add that. New Zealand oozes pulchritude in every corner (apart from Auckland, but we'll get there much much later, and even Auckland has its own appeal).
Permanently capped with white, like soft-serve ice-creams towering over their surrounds, NZ mountains lead one to scoff at Australia's piddling Great Dividing Range. As we flew from Sydney to Christchurch, seemingly under the nose of Mount Cook - or one of its lesser molehills - you could not help but be stunned by the country's sheer vertical scale. The South Island may be skinny, but she's tall - dunno why they lose at netball. And speaking of losing, you have to be careful being an Ozzie in NZ. They can get a bit touchy about cricket and stuff, tho' I could normally disarm them with a comment about keeping the America's Cup, or the Super 7s. Personally, I don't see much difference between Oz and NZ. One letter and a bit of capitalising.
Due to one of those something-for-nothing flukes that never occur in the real world, we were able to fly from Christchurch to Queenstown for no extra cost. Queenstown has a delightful mountain airport where they let the planes down by rope. Despite being surrounded by snowcapped mountains - which think nothing of towering up to 1000m above the town - Queenstown is of lower elevation than Canberra. In fact it is alleged that the bottom of the adjacent lake is below sea level. One of those quirks which - because of the coldness of the water - no one is ever going to challenge.
This is it. The land of the jet boat, the home of the bungy jump, cradle of white-water rafting and nursery of the goal of our visit - tramping! (as the kiwis quaintly describe it).
The Oxford Concise Dictionary defines the verb tramp thus:
  1. a walk heavily and firmly b go on foot, esp. a distance
  2. a cross on foot, esp wearily or reluctantly b cover (a distance) in this way

The kiwis obviously knew more than we did, as we were to find out...
January 2001
  1. Rees/Dart Valleys
  2. Milford Sound
  3. Meuller Hut, Mt Cook/Aoraki area
  4. Young/Siberia Valleys
  5. Fox and Franz Jozef Glaciers
  6. Abel Tasman National Park
  7. Tongariro Crossing
  8. Rotorua
  9. Auckland
January 2006 
  1. Wilkin River   
January 2008
  1. Karamea River whitewater rafting
  2. Three Passes, Part 1 and Part 2
  3. Nelson Lakes

February 2012
  1. Dusky Track, Days 1-3, Day 4 (Tamatea Peak), Day 5 (Supper Cove), and Days 6-8 (Centre Pass, Mt Memphis and out)
  2. Five Passes, Days 1 & 2 (Beans Burn, Fohn Lakes), Day 3 (Fiery Col), Day 4 (Parks Pass Glacier and Lake Nerine), Days 5 & 6 (Route Burn North Branch, and out)

October/November 2012
  1. Milford Track
  2. North West Circuit (Stewart Island)

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

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