Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 15

Day 15: January 22, 2014

We drove to Lake Wanika where the weather was sunny, but very windy.  We were to have biked around part of the 45k lake, but two of us chose to walk around the bike path and one chose to ride a bike.  I walked around the lake for about 3 hours.  I don’t think there is any bad scenery in New Zealand’s South Island and this lake was no exception.  The water was clear along the shore and a beautiful blue in the deeper areas.  We passed boats, playgrounds, barbecue stations, swimming beaches, deserted coast, and large beautiful homes overlooking the lake.

Picture of Lake
Lake Wanika

After our walk, we had lunch at Kia  Whaka  Pie, not pronounced as it would seem.  The downtown area around the lake resembled a resort town catering to summer visitors and  tourists.  After a nice lunch we headed toward Queenstown.

Coming through the mountains and down into Queensland nestled along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, we first stopped at Arrowtown.  Once a gold mining town, it is now a historical area and resort town a short distance from Queensland.  There are some of the original buildings, vintage 1860’s that have been turned into shops.  It is home to Patagonia  ice cream, famous in the region and quite good.  I took my scoop of ice cream along for a walk of the town and a section known as the Chinese Settlement.  Chinese were brought over to help with the gold digging.  They weren’t slaves, but were treated poorly and lived in dire starts.  There are a few remaining shacks and remnants of areas where they once lived.  The last Chinese resident, owner of the store, died in 1925.

Picture of lake
Lake Wakatipu
Picture of Arrowtown Post Office
Arrowtown Post Office
Picture of building
Picture of Chinese Shak
Chinese Shack

After a short drive we reached Queenstown, our accommodations for the next two nights.

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 14

Day 14: January 21, 2014

We headed off to Makarora where we took the Siberian International Airline into the mountains.  I got to sit next to the pilot.  It was a smooth flight through the mountains.  Our pilot took us close to glaciers on the peaks of the mountains and over glacial lakes before setting us down in a valley field. 

Picture of small plane
Siberian International
Picture of glacier
Mountain Glacier

We collected our gear and headed across a large stream to begin our hike.  One catch, there wasn’t a bridge so we slogged across the ice cold water to get to the other side where we changed our shoes and put on warm socks to begin our three hour hike along the Siberia River.

Picture of river
Mountain River

Our guide started to make lunch for us at about 11:00 but we decided that it was too early to eat so we decided to pack sandwiches and take on the hike.  We started off our walk along the Siberia River and then began to ascend the mountain along the river where it became narrow and full of rapids.  There were several points where I wondered if we had reached the apex but wasn’t certain until we came to a spot marked “TOP.”  From there we descended switchbacks until we reached the river valley again where the river had widened.

Picture of mountain trail
Mountain Hike
Picture of the word top
Apex of the Trail

We boarded a jet boat back to our van.  It was amazing.  The boat held about 12 people and only drew 4 inches of water.  We skimmed along Wilkin River in this boat, over shallow rapids, quick turns around rocks and degree in the shallow river bed.  When we reached the boat dock, the boat driver drove us in a van to our base camp.

Picture of Jet Boat
Jet Boat

We headed off after a full day of activities to our accommodations near Lake Wanika.

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 13

Day 13: January 20, 2014

Today I took a helicopter to the Frans Joseph Glacier.  Once there, we hiked on, in and around the glacier for two hours.  We were kept warm by wearing heavy rubberized boots with spikes attached for walking, gloves, hat, heavy coats and rain paints to keep dry.  It was an interesting and rewarding experience.  During our visit to the glacier, chunks of ice were dropping from a cliff.  It sounded like an explosion each time it happened.  Thankfully we were not near the dropping ice.

Picture of helicopter
Helicopter to Frans Joseph Glacier
Picture of Frans Joseph Glacier
Frans Joseph Glacier
Picture of falling glacier
Falling Glacier



















I returned early and rested on a park bench while waiting for my colleagues who took a hike up the mountains overlooking the glacier.  By the sounds of their day, I had the easier trip.

We headed out from the Frans Joseph Glacier to Bruce Bay.  Another beautiful deserted beach along the west coast.  There was a Maori tradition that those who died were put onto floating devices and sent out to sea.  Now, people write notes on rocks along the shore.  Some are of the type that “Kilroy was here.”  Others expressed sentiments of love for one another, memories of lost ones, etc.  After our brief visit here we were on the road again to another short hike and beach.

Picture of rocks on Bruce Bay
Bruce Bay
Picture of Bruce Bay Shore
Bruce Bay Shore




















We walked through a swampy forrest.  The scenery was amazing.  There was a type of tree that was as straight as an arrow and grew to about 800 years.  Even here in the swamp, the water was crystal clear reflecting back to the sky.  The swamp was a brief walk to another beach on the west coast.  It was exceptionally beautify and amazing to me to see so much deserted beach.  The water was cold and there are only 4 million inhabitants in the entire South Island.

Picture of swamp ferns
Swamp Ferns
Picture of path in swamp
Swamp Walk



















We walked through a swampy forrest.  The scenery was amazing.  There was a type of tree that was as straight as an arrow and grew to about 800 years.  Even here in the swamp, the water was crystal clear reflecting back to the sky.  The swamp was a brief walk to another beach on the west coast.  It was exceptionally beautify and amazing to me to see so much deserted beach.  The water was cold and there are only 4 million inhabitants in the entire South Island.

Picture of west coast beach
West Coast Beach



















We pushed on to our accommodations.  There were mountains surrounding us and cows grazing in the pastures around us.

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 12

Day 12: January 19, 2014

Sunday is the beginning of my adventure through Active New Zealand.  They are a first rate company providing guides, accommodations and other logistics for active adventures in New Zealand, South America, and the Himalayas.

This started out to be a long day.  Out first stop was at Kura Tawhiti or Castle Hill.  The scenery was extraordinary.  The “Lord of the Rings” was filmed not far from here on private land.  The area where we walked and the large folders were once the bottom of a large ocean.

After about an hour hike, we drove on to have lunch at Arthur’s Pass and more beautiful scenery.  Through the back window of the Chapel, one could see a beautiful waterfall through the forrest background.  We hiked a short distance to the waterfall.  The water was crystal clear.

We drove some more and stopped at the Devil’s Punchbowl.  This was another waterfall, but much larger than we had seen so far.  We had to hike up a little in the mountain to get a good view.  If you stare straight at the waterfall for a little then move your eyes horizontally to the right or left, the mountain looks like it is shifting up, an optical illusion.  On our way back down we saw red rocks.  They were red because of an algae on them.  We also saw some wild Kia Parrots.  The feathers on their wings were beautiful, but I couldn’t capture a picture of them.  The are supposed to be among the top four intelligent animals on the planet.

We continued our drive seeing more waterfalls and large river beds with small streams running in them.  During rains these river beds fill up with water.  We are in the middle of summer and most of the snow melt has occurred.  One interesting feature was a water fall along the road that was directed over the road to keep traffic flowing.

Out last stop before arriving at our accommodations for the night was Hokitika, a small town on the west coast that was nearly deserted.  I picked up some green stone (New Zealand Jade) for my wife here.  The prices turned out to be the best of any place we visited.

Pictures of Castle Hill
Castle Hill
Picture of Castle Hill, NZ
Landscape at Castle Hill
Picture of waterfall at Arthur's Pass
Waterfall at Arthur’s Pass
Picture of waterfall at Devil's Punch Bowl
Devil’s Punch Bowl
Picture of Kea Parrot
Kea Parrot
Picture of River Beds
River Beds
Picture of beach at Hokitika, NZ
Beach at Hokitika

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 11

Day 11: January 18, 2014

I arrived at Christchurch at 1:30 am.   When I arrived at the hotel, they didn’t have my registration on file.  This is the only hotel I booked through my New Zealand guide and they forgot to make the reservation.  Lucky for me they had room and I found my way go a bed.

I slept in late then took some time to walk in the neighborhood of Christ Church near the hotel.  I stayed in the part of the city that was less impacted by the earthquake of a few years ago, but there was some damage.  This part of the city was residential and very nice.  There were lots of flowers in peoples yards and along the streets.  Here are a few shots of Christchurch, NZ.

Picture of hotel
Accommodation in Christchurch
Picture of house
House turned into hotel
Picture of Driveway
Hidden Elegance
Picture of wedding
Wedding in Christchurch
Picture of school
St. Andrews College
A private high school
Picture of administration building
St. Andrews College

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 9

Day 9: January 16, 2014

Back to the Reef, this time Michalemas Reef.  It is actually sand island with some grass and 20,000 birds.  They were loud and as you would guess smelled.  It was much nicer in the water.  The island buffered the 15 knot wind to make the snorkeling wonderful.  The water was calm and pretty.  The reef, like Norman Reef had lots of colors and fish.  I rented a camera here but haven’t been able to upload my pictures yet.  We had four hours of snorkeling and a great lunch on board the boat.  The weather on the reef was hot and sunny, but back on land, hot and rainy.

It has been about 30C to 31C in Cairns, but parts of Australia have been in the low to mid 40’sC which is very hot.

I will post these pictures when I can.

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 8

Day 8: January 15, 2014

Today was to be my day in the outback, but I stayed behind to work on my blog and pictures and get some rest.  I have been fighting a head cold.  I have some cool pictures of Cairns but don’t have them available to upload to this blog yet.  Stay tuned for more pictures and featured stories about my trip to Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 7

Day 7: January 14, 2014

Well my day in the outback is not going to happen on this trip.  And we had rain again.  Today I took a the Kuranda Scenic Railway into the mountains above Cairns.   The weather cleared for the ride up and it was beautiful.  From the mountain, you could see the Daintree River empty into the coast.  There is much history along this rail line. dating back to its building and its role in World War II.  We rode on the original cars from the late 19th century.  At the top of the mountain was the town of Kuranda with shops and activities for tourists and regular businesses for the locals.

On the way down, we took the Skyline.  This would have been breathtaking had it not been for the rain and fog.

Picture of rail station
Kuranda Rail Station
Picture of rail car
Rail Car





Picture of waterfall.
Waterfalls along the Kuranda Scenic Railway
Picture of train
Climbing the mountain


Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 6

Day 6: January 13, 2015

Rain again!  But I am off to the Daintree Rain Forrest and Cape Tribulation.  This action packed day included a cruse on the Daintree river to see crocodiles and other “nasties.”  The Daintree river empties into the Coral Sea.  The tied was high and it had been raining for several days.  We found the water muddy and high, but couldn’t find any crocodiles.  We did see a few birds and large bats.

Through our hiking into the Rain Forrest, we saw interesting vegetation and very large trees.  Unfortunately, the coast was very cloudy and what we saw of the beaches and Cape Tribulation, named by Captain Cook after he ran into a reef there, did not look anything like the pictures in the brochure with blue water and bright sunny skies.  One of the more beautiful spots was Mossman.  There was a crystal clear stream running through the dense forrest where we stopped for a swim and fruit tasting.

For lunch we had a great barbeque and fed some Kangaroo.

Picture of a kangaroo
Kangaroo with an itch.
Picture of stream
Picture of flower
Rain Forrest Flower
Picture of forrest
Forrest growth
Picture of froot
Fruit Sampling