|steak, bacon, and mushroom pie. boy will we miss these.|
We've been abroad for almost eight months now and as amazing as New Zealand is, we have to admit that we're experiencing a bit of travel fatigue. As luxurious as we thought we were being when we rented our van, living out of a small van for four months straight can get a little old. (luxurious compared to living out of a tent, but small compared to our VW van at home). The continual search for toothpaste, food, nightly routine of smashing sandflies against the windows (at this point I am looking forward to going back to the mosquitoes in Thailand after living with these annoying little guys for two months!), sitting out the rain, etc has started to ware on us a bit. I know we're not going to get any sympathy with this comment either, but after seeing so many beautiful and new places, our motivation to do one of the amazing overnight treks here or even to hike a few kilometers to a nice view point has waned a bit. So, with the abroad portion of our trip nearing an end, we've decided to "splurge" a bit by staying in more expensive campsites with indoor cooking facilities, booking a few tours, and sometimes, even though we're in an amazing place and the weather is beautiful, just sitting inside surfing the net a bit.
So, with that being said, we still have seen and done some amazing things while we've been traveling around.
|Mt Cook, and us.|
|petrified tree near the Catlins|
|Cassie on the glowworm tour|
|yellow eyed penguin|
For Matthew's birthday, we were planning on going to Milford Sound. This looked a little doubtful though since when we arrived in Te Anau, the road to Milford was closed due to a rock slide and they didn't know when it would be opened again. After a few days in Te Anau, we decided to a least drive as far down the Milford Road as we could in hopes that the road would open. The drive was amazing in itself, but luckily the road crews were able to get the road open and we made it into the sound. Really it's a fiord, since it was glacial carved, but the name has stuck. We booked a tour through the sound which also included a stop at an underwater viewing area. The conditions in Milford sound allow sea life which is typically found only in deeper ocean water to occur in much shallower water. They built an underwater viewing area about 6 stories below the surface to view all the fish and corals there. This was one of the coolest things we did since it was like being inside the biggest aquarium you can imagine. We saw all kinds of corals, starfish, anemones and fish, I even saw a manta ray which apparently is quite rare (like one a year is seen). On the surface in the boat, we were able to see fur seals, penguins (fiordland crested which is the second most rare penguin), and waterfalls. It was a bit cloudy, so we couldn't see all the surrounding mountains, but it was quite spectacular and again, worth the money for the guided tour.
|Milford Sound (really a fjord)|
|birthday dinner. simple and excellent.|
|fjord viewing building. a floating underwater building.|
|the final product. yum!|
We visited the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers which were impressive, but since we've seen a number of glaciers before in Alaska, we really enjoyed hiking through the rainforest even more. After visiting the glaciers, we headed up to the small coast town of Okarito. We spent an afternoon on a really cool rocky beach there then the next morning rented kayaks to tour around the Okarito Lagoon. We rented from Okarito Nature Tours who were amazing. They gave us great info on when the best time to go would be, lots on info on the birds and wildlife we'd see, and were great people to talk with before and after. If you're on the West Coast, check this place out. It's a 3000 hectare lagoon which is home to more than 70 birds and has views of the mountains. We saw the white heron and royal spoonbills as well as numerous smaller birds. We could kayak up into some small streams which went into the forest as well. It was a great way to spend the morning!
|you may be hit by either white or black rocks...|
|rainforest. just a mile from the glacier!|
Also many of the pictures here were taken by Cassie who has been taking a lot of shots lately. She's getting quite the eye!
We're starting to really look forward to seeing the fam back in Ohio for Christmas. Can't wait!!!
|another amazing waterfall. we are actually getting quite tired of waterfalls now...|