These photos are from a trip that I took with New Zealand Nature Safaris. We drove from Nelson to Queenstown, taking one and two-day hiking trips along the way.
Our trip started from Nelson, at the North end of the South Island.
On our first day, we drove to Flora Saddle and hiked to a natural rock shelter, where we spent the night.
After our night in the rock shelter, we walked through a flat area covered with tussocks and then along some mountain ridges. We traveled through fierce winds and some rain, so my camera spent most of the trip in my pack.
The third picture has some NZ fur seals if you look closely. The last picture shows a blowhole, an effect of the ocean waves washing into the cracks and tunnels on the shore.
We walked up the side of the glacier, and we were fortunate to be able to walk through an ice luge formed by the rain on the previous day. The water is actually blue from the minerals in the glacier. I drank a little, but it was way too cold to taste anything.
A hangi is a Maori feast. (The Maori are the original inhabitants of New Zealand.) First, we dug a pit in the sand and build a fire in it. We put some large pieces of granite in the fire and let them heat up. We then put out the fire and removed the wood. We put carrots, potatoes, onions, chicken, and lamb in the pit with the heated granite, covered it all with towels and then buried it all in sand for 3 hours to cook. This was one of the best meals I've ever eaten!
A few of us took a helicopter ride up to the Fox Glacier, where the pilot landed and let us walk around and have a snowball fight.
I think the Lake Matheson trail was built just to allow untalented photographers to get pretty pictures.
We spent the day hiking up to view the Rob Roy Glacier and then back down to the Mt. Aspiring hut, where we spent the night.
We visited the Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World, which had a life-sized maze, a gallery of holograms, and some other interesting puzzles and displays. I solved the maze with a depth-first search (the "one-wall trick") in well under the average time walking at a leisurely pace. (I think Alex solved it just as quickly with no particular strategy by running really fast.) The third picture shows the 64-disc "Tower of Wanaka", which they claim would take 700 billion years to solve at one move per second. The last picture shows me standing up straight in a room which is built at a 30 degree angle.
The next day we rode the gondola up into the mountains above Queenstown and went on the luge ride. The luge ride is similar to the alpine slides at ski resorts in the US, but the tracks are wide and flat and you can steer the sleds and pass people. I became well acquainted with the crash pads at the top of the banked curve in the picture.
I couldn't get any pictures of a Kiwi bird, but here's a picture of a duck attacking Alex's feet. I don't think the ducks had anything against the French - they went after all of us when we walked through their territory.
Several of us decided to bungy jump from the Nevis Highwire platform. At 134 meters above the valley floor, it is the highest in New Zealand.
Sean, Liz, and I went on a mediocre whitewater rafting trip. I guess we should have known it wouldn't be that rough - they never even asked if we could swim!
One of my favorite attractions in Queenstown was included free with the cost of the backpacker's lodge.
Auckland City Walk to Cascade Stream, up to waterfall, then bush bash to top of ridge and follow stream all the way up to Mt. Simla. Return via Fenceline, Cascade and Auckland City Walk.
We didn't follow a trail on this hike, we just walked along the stream through the bush. Half of our hike looked like this photo. On the other half, the stream got narrower and deeper, and a thick vine-like plant called Supplejack grew into large knots and tangles that we had to slip through. I was concentrating very hard on making it out in one piece, and my camera stayed in my pack.
Karamatura Loop, Karamatura Track to the Forks, Huia Ridge, twin peaks and over Te Toiokawharu - the highest point in the Waitakeres, Tom Thumb, Karamatura Loop and back to carpark.
No pictures - it rained all day.
Waiheke feels a lot like a less crowded version of Martha's Vineyard. A bunch of us went by ferry from Auckland (Arrr), went wine tasting, and had a nice BBQ.
A relaxing day of boogie-boarding and sand castling. This is also the day I learned that you should ALWAYS wear sunscreen in New Zealand, even if it is cloudy. I spent the next week recovering from the sunburn.
Mark Thomas and Jack Bosworth on Mark's Hobie Cat.
(My Birthday is actually 4/16)
My white Mitsubishi Lancer with the driver's seat on the right. It's been a few weeks now since the last time I went to get in on the passenger side. I usually remember to drive on the left too.
My temporary apartment in Newmarket. Comfortable and close to work, but three times as much money as the place I live in now.
Light switches and outlets are different in New Zealand. Some light switches look more American, but most of them look like the picture above. All of them are upside-down - you push the switch down in order to turn the light on.
All outlets have a switch next to them that turns them on and off. Very convenient once you know what the switch does and which way is "on", but very frustrating before that.