One week down and three more to go! Today, we woke up in Queenstown and fell asleep in Mt. Cook, but how we got there is the real story. This was a perfect day:
After waking up and hearing all the terrible things I slept through in the hostel room, we blew that popcicle stand. Slou and I spent the morning shopping for souvenirs and seeing real kiwis, as I described in the last post. Kiwis are endangered in New Zealand. There are only arout 70,000 left in the wild; their main preditor being cats and dogs. They are funny little creatures with long beaks and no arms. I'm not sure how the don't tumble forward at all times. The birdlife center has switched their kiwis' clocks, so they are up during the day. They are notcturnal, so you have to go into a dark hut to see them as they bounce around foraging for food. I have no photos because they kiwis' eyes are too sensitive to risk people accidently using flash. Please pause here to Googe pics if you so desire.
After leaving Queenstown, we drove north to Wanaka. And by north I mean both directionally and geographically. Switchback roads led to magnificent views like this:
On the other side of the road, we passed meadows of sheep and fields of lupin. I rolled the window down while Slou drove and felt like I was in a TV commercial. We were alone on the road and isolated between two mountains, gliding along the one-lane highway. I basked in the warm sun on my arms, and stared dreamily at the flowers. This is one of my favorite drives of the trip so far.
Wanaka is a beautiful town on a lake, with a picturesque beach and mountain scape views. We ate a picnic lunch under a tree on the beach and then moved on.
We continued our trek north to Mt. Cook. About the time Slou woke up (I was driving at this point), we came across Lake Pukaki. I'll never be able to describe the exact color blue of the water, but I'll give it a shot. First, it helps to know this:
So, the blue we were seeing is this Rayleigh Scattering version (remember when we learned about that in the Blue Mountains?)! It looked like...blue gaterade. Or superman flavored ice cream. But brighter. Like a blue Icee. Electric blue. "Go put your feet in!" I said to Slou. "But what if this is some kind of toxic government experiement and I die?"
Spoiler alert: Slou doesn't die.
So, we stood down here on the shoreline for about thirty minutes saying "What the crap?!" over and over. This blue is unreal. I still can't believe it occurs naturally.
It's a very strange feeling when I stop and realize the variety of settings we're moving through. Big city, lakes, beaches, oceans, mountains. We're everywhere!
When we arrived at our hostel for the night, the receptionist informs us that we've been upgraded to a private room and we'll even have our own beds. After the disaster of the previous night, we nearly hug her. The room is about as great as a dirty Motel 6, but to us it's the Shangri-La. Oh, and it also offers this view:
We hike to Kea Point that night as the sun is setting. The pathway to the point convinces me I'm a beautiful princess in a fairly tale escaping from the evil queen. Jagged rocks along the path, thorny bushes straight out of Sleeping Beauty, and snowy mountains (yup, you best believe we sang Let It Go on the way into the region).
We take some quiet solo time to reflect at the point, and on our hike back down discuss our lists of gratitude. It's one of nice lessons from camp that we both still use on a regular basis. It's a really magically evening that words and photos will never accurately capture.
The next morning, after a glorious night of sleep, we hike out to Hooker Valley. The mountains are blanketed in fog and the hike takes us across three swing bridges.
The water closer to the glacier here is grey since the sediments is churned within the water. The sun comes out as we hike back out and provides some nice views of Mt. Cook once more. We stop by the Blue Lakes and glimpse views of the Tasman Glacier before we're off!
Far off in the distance in this photo, the glacier sits at the edge of the lake. A massive chunk of the ice crashed into the water as we were sitting there. It sounded like thunder.
On our way to Kaikoura, we stop at Lake Tekapo for lunch. Currently, we're approaching Christchurch and you best believe we're having a Miley Ciley/T. Swift car dance party. It'll be my turn to drive soon, so for now, I say "see ya, suckers!"