South Island (Christchurch, Castle Hill, Q-Town...

Trip Start Sep 23, 2005
Trip End Jul 31, 2006

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Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Hello from Queenstown!

Since we last completed a blog we've been pretty busy sight-seeing in Christchurch, Queenstown, and then doing a few backpacking trips down in Fiordland and Mt. Aspiring National Parks. This part of the South Island has blown us away - so much to do, see, etc. We've had a blast. Here's the breakdown:

- We arrived into Christchurch about 2 weeks ago, spent a few days checking out the sights, and taking some time to drive out to the pininsula just east of the city. Old Gold has been rollin' strong & the weather now is completely on our side. These past few weeks have been gorgeous - 18-24 degrees celsius - perfect weather. Christchurch was a really clean city with tasty and cheap Fish n' Chips.

- So thanks to Two Fat Pads, we were able to rent a climbing pad and shoes and head out to the infamous Castle Hill bouldering area. Wow - pretty amazing - kind of looked like Stonge Henge x 1000 - Boulders just everywere - and sick climbers ascending the craziest problems. 2 days of sun and climbing!

- Next stop was to check out the largest mountain in this continent - Mt.Cook. Towering over everything else in range, Mt. Cook surpassed expectation. It is preceded by a beautiful blue/turqoise lake, and it along with the other in it's range still had a significant snow covering.

- Here for a day and a half to rest and get ready for a few backpacking trips. Queenstown is a quaint town (called the 'adventure capital of NZ'), reminded us of Jackson. It is situated on a HUGE lake and surrounded by snow-capped peaks.....trying to keep our minds in the present, we had to stop ourselves from dreaming how this area would be for skiing in the winter .... maybe we'll need to come back someday~

- After Q-Town, we drove down to Te \Amo - a small town just south of Fiordland NP where we would be catching up with a few backpacking trips that we had planned. The Kepler was first of the list. It is a 3-day 60K bakcpacking loop that travels through fern, and moss saturated beech forrest, and then ascends up to Mt.Luxmore & around again through alternative lakeside forrest. Within Firodland, we were warned that this trail can be brutal (Fiordland gets 7 meters of rain/yr) - but again, nothing but sunshine & beautiful summit views for us.

- After the Kepler Track, we drove north up to the Milford Sound. Again, expecting rain and receiving a perfect 10 day, we borded a half-day cruise that took us throughout the entire sound and out to the Tasman Sea. The pictures that you'll see aren't even close to what we saw - this area was amazing. If you haven't seen this it on your to-do list! Enormous, vertical glacier-formed rock steeps, surrounded by lush forrests, waterfalls, and backed by snow-capped peaks. Dolphins, Seals, and Penguins (although the penguins must have been in hiding when we were there) all live within this surreal sound.

- OK, so I know....this blog is getting pretty long - this is the last bit of news. Jay and I just finished this track yesterday, and my quads are still burning. 4 days of Fiordland waterfalls, mountain ranges and high alpine lakes. The Routeburn was specataular. The Routeburn is a 3-day track, that took us one way N/E and ends up close to Glenarchy. After a jet boat transfer, we connected to the Caples Track(1.5 day hike) that returned us to Old Gold at the Routeburn trailhead. The Capeles was brutal - hence no pics - this trail was the most rugged I have ever been on - tons of exposed roots/large rock drops, etc. But with Timbo twitching only one nerve in his neck - we arrived back to the vehicle stoked to be alive~ Cheers to NZ!

Well that's it for now - we're going to kick it here in Q-Town for the next day, and then cruise up the west coast of the S. Island and check out the glaciers!!

Hope all is well, Sue and Timbo
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