We were on the road by 7:00 am. Just could bring along stuff for overnight. We headed down Lake Wakatipu. Cloudy. Rainy. What’s new, right? Stopped in Garston for potty break. Then on to Manapouri. Odd that the harbor there is called Pearl Harbour given today’s date. We had to be there to catch a big boat (ferry) for 45-minute trip across the lake. So, only brief stops. It takes about 2.5 hours to get from Queenstown down to Manapouri. Then onto a big bus and over the pass and down to Deep Cove on Doubtful Sound.

So, around lunchtime, we boarded our boat. Just the 16 of us. And two crew (Sean and Maria). We sailed on Doubtful Sound and other arms and sounds that connect. Even got all the way out into the Tasman Sea for a few minutes – quite a bit rougher out there! Again, lots of rain and clouds, but it brings lots of texture to the photographs we’re taking.

One treat both in the evening and again the next morning was to see a few Fiordland Yellow Crested Penguins, who are only in this area during mating season. Very small. Very shy.  We had an elegant lunch. Then later we had muffins. Later again there was a cheese and dip plate. This was followed by Maria donning a wetsuit and scuba tank and diving to bring up some huge crayfish (their lobsters). And, in the rain covered by ponchos, many of our group fished for dinner catching sea perch. Dinner consisted of freshly baked rolls, leek and potato soup, a huge half of a crayfish – I mean huge, then a salad covered with roasted new potatoes and the fish we had caught plus some other fish they had from a buy that morning. Dessert was sticky date pudding. And we had good NZ white and red wine.

The accommodations are tight. Dave M, Stewart, and I shared a cabin with Dave above us in a single and the other two of us sharing a double. Quite a sight, I must say. Slept on and off all night. Stewart was out like a rock and didn’t move, I think.

Got up at 6:00 when they started the engines. Had cleared off overnight, so nice morning light to shoot. Had a full cooked breakfast at 7:00 as we headed back to Deep Cove. Nice penguin sighting.

I think I took about 1,400 pictures altogether. Lots of bracketing to see if you could get the light and color just right.

Got back to Deep Cove about 9:30. Coffee in Manapouri. On the road to Te Anou, a few miles away, for meat pies for lunch. I had venison. Yum. Then the long drive back to Queenstown arriving around 4:15 and checking in again to our hotel.

Went out to dinner with a group of six. Same restaurant as the last time here … had rack of lamb followed by gelato (pistachio fig). Yes, I seem to be off my diet. Will have to resume back home!

A couple of comments. I am happy with both the clothes I’ve brought and my equipment overall. I certainly have the fewest lenses and stuff of the entire group (perhaps save one person), but am pleased with my shots. And it’s been chilly and rainy. I’ve worn five layers most of the days here … T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, micro down vest, Scott vest, thin down jacket. Been good.

Going to a meeting room tonight at 8:00 to see pix from my roommate, Dave M, and also from Dave S, both professional photographers. Should be really fun. Then up tomorrow to get my rental car from Hertz and follow the van to Mt. Cook.

 

 

Alarm went off at 4:15. We just washed and dressed, no shower or shave today. Got to lobby early. Left here at 5:00 and headed up toward Glenorchy. We stopped at Bennett’s Bluff for shots of Lake Wakatipu in a gathering storm. Lots of clouds churning. Quite dramatic. Quite wet at times. I used all three of my cameras opting not to get my big one soaked. Others had plastic bags over their cameras. Most have chamois, a good thing for my next trip.

After about a hour there, we continued up to Glenorchy, which is at the head of the lake. Took pix of the lake and mountains until after 7:00 when it started to drizzle/rain. Went to local café where we were the absolute first people there … they were just opening up. Eggs on toast with grilled tomatoes and a total of three long blacks as the morning progressed.

When we left the café, we saw a rainbow on the side of the mountains across the lake. That rainbow stayed in its same position for over a half an hour…so we got lots of pix of it. Never, ever seen anything like this. Not in the sky. Against the mountain. Wowzer! 

In the same area are lots and lots of lupines. While they are colorful, they end up being a pest plant that needs to be eradicated. Spreads fast and takes over edges of streams displacing bird nesting areas and driving the birds away. But they are pretty.

We stayed in Glenorchy for quite a while since where they wanted to take us next (farther up into the mountains) had heavy rain. So, we went back to Queenstown. I did laundry in the hotel guest laundry. I also talked to Hertz since we’re not going to be back here Friday evening soon enough for me to get our rental car. Will get it Saturday morning at 9:00 when they open.

Dave M and I walked downhill into the center of the city. We went out onto the pier by the lake to a restaurant where I think Jeff and I ate – Pier 19. Right by where the old steamer docks. Saw outside and I hade a whopping big portion of green lip mussels. While I haven’t seen any rack of lamb, there have been the mussels and I have had them three times now. Yum!

Did some light shopping. Got some food to eat on the van tomorrow morning on our way down to Doubtful Sound … no time to stop for breakfast. Going out tonight for early dinner. Dave and I went back to our rooms and worked on pix until time for dinner.

Need to be ready to go  tomorrow morning at 6:45 with our luggage checked here. We’re only taking a change of clothes and camera equipment to the boat.

Pat, Cathy, and I went to a nice restaurant where I had rack of lamb. Well, green lip mussels and rack of lamb in one day plus a rainbow. Yowie!



 

Dave, my roommate, got up at 4:30 (and didn’t disturb me at all!) and a group of them went to see the mountains reflected on Lake Matheson. They had some good and bad weather and clouds. I slept on and off and got up at 6:30 or so. Haven’t really made it past then.

Got up and worked on pix for a short bit. Then went across the street to a café for eggs on toast, my new favorite. Poached. Came back to room, talked with Robin and Mark via Facetime (had a lovely conversation last night same way with Marian).

At 10:15 the seven of us who were going on the glacier walk went over to the place where it begins. Same place Jeff and I went to seven years ago. They fitted us with boots and gave us crampons to carry up to the ice. Great guide who talked to us about the glacier, about rocks, plants, ice, water, you name it. Rodger. Very informative.

When Jeff and I were here, the glacier was actually growing, but it has receded quite a bit over the last three years. I would say that the height of the glacier at its terminus has dropped over 100 feet. When we were here last, to get to the glacier you had to climb up a trail on the mountainside. With the drop of the glacier, you walked up along the glacier and then climbed rocks and then ice steps to get to it. It’s a long walk from the car park … and the same distance coming back.

Because of ice conditions seven years ago, Jeff and I could not go onto the ice. Today it was glorious with lots of time on the ice. There had not been a lot of rain, so the ice was dirty and not a lot of reflected blue light. But some. And it was wonderful. Trip lasted from 11:00 leaving here to about 2:00 returning.

Got some green lip mussels and a long black for late lunch and went back to the room for downloading, email, writing this journal. At 5:00, we went over to the same restaurant we ate at last night. Had white bait.

At 6:30, most of us got onto the van and went over to the Lake Matheson trailhead. 40 minutes in and 40 minutes out. Hilly. Long. Tired. You go around the lake to a view point with the idea of taking pictures of the mountains reflected in the lake as well as lovely vegetation all along the way. The clouds didn’t really part over the mountains, but I got some good shots anyway. It was 9:45 (sun set at 8:50) before we were back and the van and back to the motel. And my socks are still wet from two days ago washing them.

We had breakfast across the street from the motel and were on the van and moving at 8:30. Didn’t pull into Queenstown until after 6:30. Long day on the van. We went south along the coast to Ship;s Creek where there were both sand dunes and driftwood on the Tasman and also a swamp walk. I chose the swamp. Great ferns and huge trees. Really nice.

From there, we headed up towards Haast Pass. Lunch was unremarkable at a roadside café. Then, several stops along the way. One was at a roaring river/creek with huge boulders called Gates of Haast. Then to Fantail Falls, a potty stop at Cameron Flats, and a long drive past Lake Wanaka. Another stop at Lake Hawea and another in the town of Wanaka. Then it was over the Crown Range road (steep and twisting) way up to a gorgeous view of Queenstown. Then finally into Queenstown and dinner before going to the hotel. It was 9:00 before we got into our rooms and we have to be up ready to leave at 5:00 am tomorrow! Blech.

Got up around 6:45 and had breakfast stuff in our room from what we had bought the day before. Met with Stewart to talk about photography for a few minutes and then on the bus for a long day’s drive down the coast to Fox Glacier.

Of course, there were stops along the way. The first one was very near our starting point. We went out onto a rock-strewn beach for pictures in the mist and rain. Ah, first chance to use my waterproof camera! After about an hour, we were on our way. But there were stops for gas, coffee, shopping, bathroom breaks, etc. Got take away for lunch in the van. Finally got to Fox Glacier around 4:00.

After settling in at the motel, we went into the nearby rain forest for lots of pix in the gloom and mist and waning light. I stayed an hour; others stayed two. The greens were subtle. Nice streams. Lots of moss and ferns and all sorts of things growing up and down tree trunks.

Dinner was nearby at 6:30. Stewart asked me to read some poems and to challenge the group to come up with candidates for the cover photograph. It was lovely and people were generous in their comments.

Tomorrow is a climb up to Fox Glacier. Looking forward to that. Hope to sleep in a bit while some others might be getting up to leave at 5:00 am for a trek into a lake. Too tired to do it!

 

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