franz josef

New Zealand 2017 (Part Two)

This is part two of my blog posts about our trip to New Zealand.

You can find part one here.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

The Punakaiki pancakes are an unusual rock formation on the west coast of the south island. The rocks were formed millions of years ago when layers of limestone were sandwiched between softer layers of mud, and the course of time has slowly eroded away at the weaker rock to leave a quite bizarre set of stacks and blowholes on the coast.

Driving to Queenstown

Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are some of the biggest and most accessible glaciers in New Zealand. The Glaciers have both suffered large retreats in recent years due to global warming, and the walk (which used to be a short hop from the car park) is now over 45 minutes in order to see the terminus at their closest range.

Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson - The Reflection Lake - is famed for it's ultra still waters, and habit of creating atmospheric morning views of Mt Cook and the southern alps. We first saw the image below when we visited Petr Hlavacek's gallery on the way in and I knew I wanted to find our way there if at all possible. It's really hard to tell how distant these sort of places are going to be, and how hard the walk is going to be when you get there.

In this case we got up at 6am in order to catch sunrise over the mountains, and the walk in was almost deserted. We stopped at a couple of vantage points along the way, but knew that the best view would be found further along the path. 

Driving to Arrowtown

The route down from Lake Matherson takes in some wonderful scenery, and once again, we were very lucky with the light. This was also my first chance to really try out some star photography with my new lens.

Arrowtown

Flight to Milford Sound

Aside from the flights from the UK, and the van rental, this was the single largest expense on our trip.  The drive to Milford sound is supposed to be incredibly scenic, but also takes 10 hours for a round trip. The flight on the other hand takes only around 30 minutes in, and the same on the way out; adding the incredible views to this and you have a simple choice!

Milford Sound

Milford sound was one of the only areas in NZ that I had been sure that I wanted to visit before leaving the UK. With an average rainfall of around 6.5m, it is also one of the wettest places in the country; naturally when we arrived, we were greeted with brilliant blue skies and t-shirt weather. Bueno!

I could say a lot about the scenery in Milford, but without being there it is hard to capture the scale of the place with just words. I hope that my pictures below cover some of the distance towards that goal. 

Flight Back to Queenstown

Moeraki Boulders

The Moeraki boulders are named after a sleepy little village perched on the side of a hill near the sea. The boulders themselves, despite being a fairly large tourist attraction, are altogether pretty boring. If you like spherical concretions, then these might be the top sight on your trip.

We visited the boulders both at night (around 11pm to catch low tide), and in the morning. 

My personal advice is to visit at night.