New Zealand. Go there. Part 2

As previously discussed, day 1 of our Great Walk was a little rough. It was in the 40s and poured all day. After finally finding our cozy (see also: soaking wet/freezing) tent pad, we awoke after a rough night of sleep the following morning to an only mildly damp morning.

Foggy, but not rainy. Thank Mithrandir!

I'm told that to the left of this path is an absolutely magnificent view of the southern alps. Sure, I'll believe that (I Googled it - it is spectacular). This is what we saw for about 5 miles. However, we were so happy to be not-soaked/warm-ish/semi-dry and not freezing that we truly didn't mind missing the view.

After an hour or so of this, we started seeing hikers coming from the other direction of the walk. Every one of them told us that "just around the corner" the weather was beautiful and sunny. For an hour and a half, we heard that. Just around the corner. Sun.



Like some kind of miracle (or... you know, science), we came over the Harris Saddle, and it was as though there was an invisible wall holding back the clouds. We had sun for the remainder of the day. We got to our campsite and our gear dried in about 20 minutes. It was absolutely worth one miserable day for this one, incredible, beautiful, miraculous day.

The Routeburn Track is beautiful.

That evening we camped at the Routeburn Flats campsite (the pictures of flat-ish places, with our tent), down the mountain from Routeburn Falls. We had an incredible view of the clouds trying their darndest to get over the mountains to us... and failing.

The following day we hiked out of the wilderness and caught our shuttle back to Queenstown.

Have I mentioned how awesome Queenstown is?

 Before we left on the Routeburn Track, we asked around (all... over the south island, actually) for recommendations for great restaurants in Queenstown. With that in mind, we made a reservation at Rata before we left. And oh my, was that a great idea. Amazing local food (honey goat-cheese puff tarts! Smoked salmon and capers! More goat cheese!), local wine (wiiiiiiiiiiiine), and The Husband had the biggest steak (and, I was assured, potentially the best) I have ever seen in my entire life.

We spent a couple relaxing days in Queenstown before heading back up to Christchurch for a night, and then our flight back to the US. Fun tip - basically no one rents cars in Queenstown to take north. Everyone tends to rent cars in Picton (the ferry from Wellington drops you on the south island in Picton) and drive them down to Queenstown, then fly out from there. Because they have trouble moving the cars back north, they will sometimes give you a rental car for free.

So we got a free rental car to drive to Christchurch. Way to go, last-minute-planning!! We were able to stop where and when we liked along our (admittedly, 8-hour) drive.

 The view from our hotel.

Mount Cook, on the way back up to Christchurch.

Queenstown is legendary for adrenaline sports (bungee jumping was invented there. There are mountain luge tracks, canyon swings, jet boats... all sorts of dangerous but undoubtedly fun things). The sport in which we partook was... lawn bowling.

I am totally not kidding when I recommend checking out the Queenstown Lawn Bowling Club. An octogenarian taught us the rules and how to actually roll the bowls so they don't go all the way across the lawn and mess up someone else's game. It was a blast and we met some great people.

 We also went to see the Anduin (I do not remember the non-Lord of the Rings name of this river). It's beautiful. And the original bungee jump is over it!

You can juuuuust see the bungee jump bridge in this one.

Christchurch Maori totem!

And then we had to leave. :'(

If you ever want someone to bore you to tears talking about New Zealand, give us a call. It's unreal.