New Zealand Day Six: A Day At Aoraki/Mt. Cook Then On To Queenstown.
I only had one night in Aoraki/Mt. Cook Village, so I had to get up to observe the stars. I set the alarm for midnight. There were some high clouds, so the stars weren’t as spectacular as they were in Lake Tekapo. Beautiful they still were. I awoke again, this time before sunrise, to get some hiking in before I left this area for Queenstown later in the afternoon.
Once again I realized I would not see the sunrise. It was out of view, rising behind the mountains. I was still treated to some beautiful clouds reflecting the rising sun in the east. I did not have time for a long hike. I had to check out of my room at 11 a.m. So I decided to hike the nearby Governors Bush Walk trail.
The trail climbed a hillside above the village under old growth beech and other native trees. I thought it would be a good place to photographs of some native birds.
I imagined how beautiful these mountains were before the intrusion of man as I walked under the old trees and along the many species of ferns.
There was a lot of bird activity. However, the thick forest and dim light made it difficult to photograph the many birds I saw fluttering in the trees. I was able to photograph some of the more friendly New Zealand robins.
I also had my first, of many, encounter with the large New Zealand pigeon or kereru. I often heard it whooshing its wing in the forest and woodlands of both the South and North Island on my visit.
The trail climbed the hillside until it reached an observation area where one could view Mt. Cook in the distance.
The trail then descended the hill-side and ended neat the Hermitage. I walked back along the trail hoping to see more birds and did observe this fellow, I think a rifleman, one of New Zealand’s smallest birds.
The sun finally climbed above the distant mountains as I made my way back down the trail.
I saw the large glaciers on the distant mountains in the morning sunlight.
I had only walked 3 miles so I followed a few trails near my hotel. I was looking for some birds or other wildlife. I did see some hares, rabbits and a few more robins but I wasn’t able to get any good photographs. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning hike. New Zealand Day Six Governors Bush Walk February 11 2019.
I returned to my room wishing, again, to have more time to explore the Aoraki/Mt. Cook area. I edited some photos and packed , leaving my room at noon. I talked the staff into giving me an extra hour in my room. My bus to Queenstown left at 3:30 so I had some time to spend at the historic Hermitage Hotel and it’s museum.
First I enjoyed a bountiful lunch buffet at the hotel. They sure know how to feed their guests in this country.
I next spent some time in the museum dedicated to the memory and many accomplishments of that famous New Zealand native Sir Edmund Hillary.
I learned so much about this amazing man, the first to reach the summit of Mt. Everest in the next hour. He led an amazing life with far to many achievements to mention here.
I then took one last hike near the hotel, enjoying the warm late Summer sunshine as I took in my last views of Aoraki/Mt. Cook. Here is a link to some photographs from my hike and visit to the hotel museums. New Zealand Day Six Hotel Museum and walk February 11 2019.
The Intercity bus arrived on time for my 3 1/2 hour trip to Queenstown. The bus was not crowded and I was able to get a seat up front. Our driver once again provided us with information on the geology, history and culture of the Maori natives and English settlers as we drove through the scenic countryside.
We left the mountains and drove through sheep and cattle farms.
The land became drier and more barren as we drove south.
We continued south stopping in a small town for a quick break at a small roadside restaurant.
I loved the paintings on the walls. This one depicted the great trout fishing in the region, some of the best in the world.
The bus driver said the ice cream was on the bus company. A few passengers took up the offer but I was still too full from lunch to accept. It started to rain as we climbed some barren mountains,
and made our way through the famous Lindis Pass.The bus stopped to allow us to take some photographs.
We learned so much about the history of the early sheep ranchers as we continued our ride through more sheep farming country.
We made another stop near the town of Cromwell , this time at the world-famous Mrs. Jones Family Fruit Stand.
We spent about twenty minutes here. There were free samples of fresh fruit and produce. It was delicious.
The stand was crowded with tourists so I walked through the beautiful gardens outside.
The were many different types of colorful roses and other flowers as well as
some interesting sculptures and statues in the gardens. Here is a link to some more photographs of the fruit stand and gardens. New Zealand Day Six. Mrs. Jones Fruit Stand February 11 2019.
We now hit some road construction as we made our way through some historic gold mining territory.
We again learned of the history of this area. This bridge is famous as the first site of bungee jumping. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to Queenstown. New Zealand Day Six Aoraki/Mt. Cook to Queenstown February 11 2019.
It was after 7 p.m. when we approached the resort city of Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It was late summer and it was full of New Zealanders and tourists. I was left off at my hotel, the Crowne Plaza, in downtown Queenstown.
It was a long day, I was tired and hungry. I was excited to be in Queenstown and along it’s beautiful lake but I had an early start the next morning. So, I did a quick tour of the lake shore and the downtown, and had a quick bite to eat.
I was looking forward to my chartered airplane flight to Milford Sound, reported to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet in the morning. So I headed to my hotel to get some sleep. It was another great day exploring New Zealand’s South Island. Here is a link to some more photographs from my quick walk through Queenstown. New Zealand Day Six Evening walk. February 11 2019.
We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” — Jawaharal Nehru