Escapade to the south island in New Zealand will forever change the way I look at best places to live life. It changes one's perspective and brings us closer to nature, to an isolated land in an early pristine earth when it was undisturbed by humanity .
The view from top of the "southern alps "
Here is the million years of story of New Zealand and the southern alps in a few words . About two hundred million years ago, the supercontinent Pangea broke apart into Gondwana and Laurasia. Millions of years later, the submerged eastern part of Gondwana called Zealandia broke away into the Pacific Ocean but submerged. About twenty five million years ago the sunken Zealandia rose from beneath oceans due to tectonic activity at the junction of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. Hence formed "New" Zealand . In the ice age, movement of glaciers in New Zealand carved out valleys, fjords and sounds as we see today.
Queenstown from top with Lake Wanaka on the left and Lake Hawea on the right
Possibly a Bicycle track off shoot from Cardrona valley road in Crown Range
Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown
Stunning view of Lake Wakatipu with the last sun rays kissing the mountain ranges just before sunset
An evening by the lake in Queenstown
Time to hit the road driving along side Lake Wakatipu as we head towards Te Anau and Milford Sound
New Zealand is simply one of the best places to drive in the world
We stop by a beautiful small town called Kingston at one edge of Lake Wakatipu to admire the scenic beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains . Lake Wakatipu is New Zealands longest lake spanning eighty kilometers. The deepest point in the lake is actually below the sea level at three eighty meters deep.
Kingston, the town at one edge of Lake Wakatipu
We continue driving occasionally stopping by to admire the vistas
After about two hours drive, we halt at the town of Te Anau . Lake Te Anau is the largest lake in Australasia by fresh water volume
This is Eglinton flat - a vast flat land created millions of years ago by glacial flow.
Random stop at a stream
As we come out of Homer Tunnel , we are in the middle of a colossal valley surrounded by steep mountain on all sides with a few steep waterfalls
We camp for the night in our beautiful river side chalets in Milford Sound Lodge ( Milford Sound lodge is one of two lodges in this entire area )
Milford Sound - The word "Sound" refers to a valley created by erosion of a river flow while "fiord or fjord" refers to a canyon or a valley created by more powerful glacial flow. Milford Sound was actually created by glacial flow so technically it is a Fiord while it is incorrectly called "Sound"
As you steer along the Milford Sound you have a feeling of being in "Pandora" from the movie "Avatar". While Milford Sound is portrayed in sunny and clear blue sky in postcards and all over the internet, in reality it is most often not the case. The area gets one of the world's highest rainfalls because of the sea breeze blowing clouds towards land and clouds getting trapped in steep mountains. The night before , we had a very heavy downpour - high even by Mildford standards and the result was very bad weather with low visibility. Not ideal , but on the bright side it did cause hundreds of waterfalls to emerge pouring down from steep mountains to make our ride absolutely stunning and amazing
One of many breathtaking waterfalls
In the mood for some adventure, our boat ventured as close as possible , till a point where we the hull of the boat was below the thundering waterfall !
So we have seen the beautiful gorges of Milford Sound from above , but whats Milford Sound like from underneath ? What secrets lay hidden ? There is something unique going on here. Several factors like washed down dark brown tannin from the mountains, narrow shape of the fiord and a layer of freshwater from the heavy rainfall over the sea water causes a phenomenon called "Deep Water Emergence". This creates a deep sea environment at much shallower depths by making the environment cold and dark as light does not penetrate very deep. This brings unique and beautiful marine life generally found in deep waters only. And one can observe the sea life from an under water observatory.
Back above the water, time to head back to Queenstown.
New Zealand is home to three million people and sixty million sheep
Stunning winding road at dusk along Lake Wakatipu as we head back to Queenstown. This was a remarkable lookout point on the way back. With the road projecting into the Lake , it creates a full view of the lake and makes it an amazing look out point but a very very windy place too. Perhaps why its named "Devil's lookout "
Experience more of New Zealand in the escapade from Queenstown to Lake Wanaka and Hawea here
As our time ran out , we left with only one thought in our minds - that there is so much more to explore in South island of New Zealand that we would definitely make it back here again and next time we would give time a break...
With some References to Wikipedia