Catching up – at least the start of it…

I can’t remember when I last updated so I’m going to start with the Milford Sound Discovery center which was included in our cruise package.  It is a floating observation room 10 meters under the surface.  It is difficult to describe but it’s like being in an aquarium looking out at the whole world – which, in this case happens to be the world of the sea.  Because of the massive rainfalls in the area, it is wetter than the Amazon rainforest, the fresh water contains lots of nutrients that turn it dark brown, this gives the level at 10 meters the same darkness as a normal 70 meter depth therefore sea life can be seen much closer to the surface in the sound.  The pictures don’t really do the experience justice but here are some of the best we could capture.

The stairs

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The viewing space

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The water – top is fresh with all the nutrients/soil run-off and bottom is the salt water from the Tasman Sea

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Fishie!

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The only access is by boat, no land access at all so the visitors are severely limited which we love as it made for a much more intimate and personal experience with everyone getting a chance to linger at one of the viewing windows.

The lodge in Milford sound was decorated for the holidays – super fancy, eh?

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As we left Milford sound, we drove to a little town called Kingston On the way we had to share the road with two herds, do you call them herds?, of sheep.  Kind of like driving in India but with less traffic and no cows – HA! 

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In Kingston we stayed at a motel, a ‘luxury’ motel no less.  The best part of this evening was a BATH TUB!

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After leaving Kingston we drove to Arrowtown a charming community built for the tourist business but charming nonetheless.  I mean, who doesn’t love a town guarded by dragons?

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They have fully restored a Chinese gold mining settlement that was as awe inspiring in its story as it was devastating in its history.  You could almost feel the determination and resilience of the souls of the people as you read the life stories of unimaginable loss and ostracization.

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Mary took a cool picture inside the general store of the settlement

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After that we drove through more of this glorious/funky country and ended up following a sign to the Clay Cliffs.  Having no idea what they were and finding a paragraph in the guidebook that said, yes, they are here, we drove and drove and drove on the gravel road from hell only to get to the end and see this:

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At the end of the day, we caught our first glimpse of Mt. Cook and then ended up in Twizel (long ‘eye’ sound) utterly exhausted.

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The road from Twizel gifted us with glimpses of Mt. Cook at nearly every turn.  More fields of purple, past a beautiful church and eventually to Christchurch where we spent the night in jail – literally!

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Christchurch is a post unto itself – coming up next!

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