Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 21

Day 21: January 28, 2014

Today is the last leg of my trip home and something like back to the future.  I leave South Korea at 11:40 am on Tuesday and arrive at Chicago, Illinois at 9:00 am on Tuesday.  The flight was about 13 hours.  I had the same good service I had on other Korean Air flights.  I left at -9F from Chicago and returned to -9F.  In between my ranged from a high of 95F in Cairns, to a cool 70F in Queensland, to 40F in Inchon.  These were all daytime temperatures.

I returned home and began the process of unpacking and preparing for work which began the next day.

Trip Statistics

Activity 

 Number

Travel Days
                   21
Flight (Jet) Hours
60
Flight (Prop) Hours
1
Helicopter Hours
.5
Distance Traveled by Jet
26,318
Airports (non duplicated count)
6
Jet Boat Hours
1
Bus Hours
16
Cab Hours
1
Countries
3
Cities/Towns
12
Walking Hours
30

Cities/Towns visited

—Inchon, South Korea
—Brisbane, Australia
—Cairns, Australia
—Port Douglas, Australia
Mossman, Australia
Kuranda, Australia
—Sydney, Australia
—Christchurch, New Zealand
—Hokitika, New Zealand
—Arthur Pass, New Zealand
—Makarora, New Zealand
—Wanaka, New Zealand
—Arrowtown, New Zealand
—Queenstown, New Zealand—

Reefs

Green Island
Norman Reef
Michaelmas Cay

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 19

Day 19: January 26, 2014

This is the first day of my three-day trek back to Illinois.  Today I flew from Queenstown, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia.  The flight was several hours and about 1,200 miles.  When I got to Sydney about 3:30 pm, I checked into my hotel at the airport then took a subway downtown.  The car I road in looked new.  Parts of the subway system looked new and other parts looked like vintage 1940’s, but always clean. Today was Australia Day.  I first stopped at Cockle Bay (Darling Harbor) where there would be fireworks after sundown.  I walked around the crowd, had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and listed to some music before leaving for Sydney Cove (Sydney Harbor) to see the famous Sydney Opera House and bridge crossing the bay.  It was fun and I wish I had more time to stay to enjoy all of the festivities. I took the subway back to my hotel for an early night.

Picture of crowds in Sydney, Australia on Australia Day
Australia Day
Picture of Cockle Bay Wharf on Australia Day
Cockle Bay Wharf
Picture of subway car
Sydney Subwar Car
Picture of concert on Australia Day
Australia Day Concert

 

Picture of Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

 

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 20

Day 20: January 27, 2014

Today I left Sydney on Korean Air for Inchon, South Korea, the second leg of my trip.  The flight was about 10 hours.  We were treated very well, two meals, snacks, real silver ware and wine with our dinner.  There was plenty of electronic entertainment and opportunities to charge notebooks, e-readers, etc.

The airport at Inchon is like a combination of Rodeo Drive, Michigan Avenue and Fifth Avenue.  They had a small string ensemble playing, and fun things to learn and do at the Korean cultural store.  The only thing I didn’t see was a movie theater.

I spent the night in a hotel in Inchon.  It was a more traditional South Korean establishment with slippers inside a vestibule leading to another door into the bedroom.  Shopping around the hotel was not like the airport.  I would have liked to explore Inchon and Soul but didn’t have the time. But what I saw was intriguing.

Picture of piano at Inchon airport
Music at Inchon Airport
Picture of stores at Inchon airport
Inchon Airport
Picture of slipers in hotel room
Sky Hotel Room
Picture of street in Inchon
Shopping in Inchon

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 18

Day 18: January 25, 2014

This morning I was greeted to a large market around the lake in Queenstown.  Artisans brought their handicraft and the prices were much more reasonable for many of the same items I saw in stores throughout New Zealand.  They also had unique items.  It was quite fun looking at the wares and talking with the vendors.  Later there was music in a grassy area where people were taking in the sun.  A few other brave souls ventured into the lake swimming.

There was a hamburger place that was constantly busy called Ferberger.  The burgers were good.  They also had a bakery where the wares looked delicious.  I had a beef and cheese pie.  Meat pies are popular in New Zealand.

Today was my last full day in Queenstown.  Tomorrow I begin my three day trek back home.

Picture of bakery
Fergbaker
Picture of burger place
Fergburger
Picture of fancy soap
Soap

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 17

Day 17: January 24, 2014

I cancelled the last two days of my hiking trip because of my sinus infection and stayed in Queenstown to recover.  I have been on antibiotics and needed the rest.  However, I couldn’t stay in my hotel room, as nice as it was for me.  I walked around the town some more and the lake taking pictures and enjoying the warm weather, about 18C or 68F.  I found a relatively old cemetery and took some pictures there.  It was interesting to note that the European settlement of New Zealand was much later than that in the United States so the grave sites don’t go back much before the 1860’s.

Picture of church
Anglican Church
Picture of Queenstown street
Shopping in Queenstown
Picture of tombstone
Queenstown Cemetery

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 16

Day 16: January 23, 2014

Today we had the option of spending a free day in Queenstown or hiking.  I was fighting a sinus infection so decided to skip the hike.  It had rained the night before in Queenstown, but in the mountains it snowed leaving them speckled above a certain height, and this is their summer!

Queenstown is beautiful, vibrant, and full of young people.  It seemed to be a significant crossroad for New Zealand’s South Island.   The town has lots of restaurants, bars, and shops.  With it nestled on Lake Wakatipu, there are many water activities and in the winter, snow skiing.  I walked around the town most of the day then took a gondola midway up a mountain to catch the sunset.  All was working well until clouds started coming in and blocked out the sun during the early stages of sunset.  Oh well, the scenery was still beautiful.

Picture of Lake Wakatipu
View of Lake Wakatipu
Picture of snow on mountains
Freshly Snow Covered Mountains
Picture of sunset on Lake Wakatipu
Sunset on Lake Wakatipu
Picture looking down on Queenstown
Queenstown from Above

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
Arrowtown
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