New Zealand's South Island: Heaven on Earth!
On our first trip to New Zealand (the South Island), it really did seem like heaven on earth: perfect climate (they even get that white stuff that we never see in Hong Kong), perfect scenery (especially on the south island), perfect air (very little industry to pollute it, though the hole in the ozone layer is very worrying), perfect cooking (at least they serve very tender lamb), perfect people (partly because there are so few of them: only 3 million in a country the size of the UK).
I suppose some people would find New Zealand to be too isolated from the rest of the world. You would think that at least Hong Kong should be close to New Zealand, wouldn't you? Actually Hong Kong is closer to Rome! But what does distance matter to you or me or anyone else who has access to the World Wide Web??
We spent a couple of weeks in December 94 (summer in New Zealand) and did a big, classic tour of the south island, namely Christchurch > Mount Cook > Queenstown > Milford Sound > Franz Josef Glacier > Christchurch.
This suspension bridge is close to the road to Milford Sound, near the southern tip of the south island. Neither Catherine nor I dared to cross it!
Pining for the fjords? Then check out Milford Sound, one of many fjords that line the south-west coast of the south island. It was summer there, but cold and windy anyway (we even had snow in Queenstown!).
Here's Nigel trying not to freeze to death on the slopes of Mount Cook. It was so cooooold!
Queenstown is a fairytale city surrounded by beautiful mountains and embraced by a pure and enormous lake. This photo was taken from the upper cable car terminus.
I went scrambling over the impressive Franz Josef glacier on the South Island's west coast, or was this the nearby Fox glacier? Anyway, that's the guide on the right. These glaciers are unique in the world - the only ones that run through rain forest. They're also rare in that they are getting bigger as the years go by - almost all other glaciers in the world are shrinking due to global warming.
The first photo above doesn't do justice to the size of the glacier, but the second one does. It shows the very foot of the glacier, so you can see the thickness of this river of ice. It was weird to be climbing on the glacier - every now and then it would creak menacingly as it crept forwards inch by inch and it was sometimes necessary to jump across deep crevices in the slippery ice. Needless to say, Catherine didn't dare join us on the glacier...