Tag Archives: queenstown

The Hobbit’s New Zealand

This is just a brief post and not of my making – just my sharing. One of my most loyal readers shared the following video link with me (see below).

After being in New Zealand for nearly a year, I believe that the images that you’ll see in this video are all real and not imaginary. OK, the folks who created The Hobbit series movies have added a fair amount of surrealism to particular scenes in their movies. However, the underlying scenery is as real as it gets – breathtaking, stunning, beautiful.

 

And, Earnslaw Burn is one of the few places that we’ve wanted to see in New Zealand where we just won’t make it – this trip!

Enjoy.

46 S EnZed signing off…

 

Video Link:  The Hobbit’s New Zealand

 

 

Posted in Hobbit, Middle Earth, Mt. Cook, New Zealand, Queenstown Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Von River Valley, Eyre Mountains

[landscapephotograph description=”Von River Valley, Autumn” photoname=”Von River Valley” photo=”https://timmulholland.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Von-River-Valley-Pan-8b.jpg” photourl=”http://timmulholland.photoshelter.com/image/I0000U20kis5uIXA”][/landscapephotograph]

  

I’m a person who loves to read maps, especially finely detailed topographic maps. First, I like to discover places that are new and interesting to me, and hopefully interesting photograph. With the plethora of maps on the internet (Google Maps and Google Earth, to name a couple), it’s really interesting to start to see someplace and then dig deeper. When I’m performing my research on US locations, I then find that deeper level of detail by pulling up USGS topographic maps on the Libre Map Project. I suspect that there are other, similar resources in the US, but I’ve been using Libre Map Project for years, so it’s my “go to” resource. My GPS is also a really good resource when I’m in the field, but I love these computer sites when I’m doing my research before I get into the field because it’s so much easier to see things on the bigger computer screen.

  

  

Fortunately for me, there’s a similar resource in New Zealand – NZ Topo Maps. When we’re planning our trips and tours in New Zealand, I’ll check out Google Earth for a start, and then head to NZ Topo Maps for a different view. I just love to pour over a good topo map and discover nooks and crannies that I didn’t know exist before.  For example, that’s how I “discovered” The Branches and made the trip further up Skippers Canyon.

  

  

Over the past few months, we’d heard about a place called the Mavora Lakes and it has been on our radar as a place to visit, maybe hike, maybe camp. It’s only a couple of hours from Invercargill and it’s not a major tourist area like Milford Sound, Te Anau and Queenstown. It seemed like a nice place to get away for a day and to relax.

  

  

I then hit the maps and “discovered” that, yes, Mavora Lakes looks like an interesting place. But the road to Mavora Lakes keeps going further and further from civilization – that’s my kind of road to explore!!! In fact, the road to Mavora Lakes and beyond goes all the way to Lake Wakatipu, which is the lake on which Queenstown is situated. There are no towns or villages on the road beyond Mavora Lakes. The only signs of civilization in this area on the map are a couple of sheep stations at the end of the road on Lake Wakatipu. These two stations are remote. The nearest town, Mossburn, is about a two-hour drive from them, although it’s only a eighteen kilometers by boat to Queenstown.

  

  

When we went to Mavora Lakes, the weather didn’t seem like it might be the best. It’s late autumn here and there was a lot of fog as we started the drive. The fog eventually lifted and we made it to Mavora Lakes uneventfully. The lakes were nice and pleasant, and it did seem like it would be a good place to relax. Of course, the sandflies were there, too. There were even a few people camping and exploring the area like us, so this is likely a reasonably popular place to visit in Southland during tourist season. We were contemplating lunch (actually, the kids were more like demanding it) when I suggested that we drive further on the road. It looked like it might be “only” another hour until we reached Lake Wakatipu.

  

  

A few kilometers further north of Mavora Lakes is when the good scenery and clouds really kicked in! Asta and I were oohing and aahing all of the time. When we finally came over a rise and saw Lake Wakatipu, we both blurted out WOW! at the same time. I have to say that this drive is one of my top three drives in New Zealand. Driving from Te Anau to Milford Sound is likely my favorite drive, and Skippers Canyon is my second favorite. The autumn foliage and dark, majestic clouds really set off the Von River Valley and the Thomson and Eyre Mountain Ranges, as well as Lake Wakatipu. At the end of the road, there wasn’t much to see in terms of civilization, but the views were spectacular! We stopped and enjoyed our lunch surrounded by a few hundred sheep who were hoping that we might want to share with them.

  

  

At the end of the road, there are two sheep stations, plus a resort.  One of the sheep stations, Mount Nicholas Station, also doubles as a nice, small, remote getaway place. The resort is the Colonel’s Homestead and is operated a resort by RealJourneys, which is a major tourist operator in southern New Zealand. We didn’t get close to the Colonel’s Homestead and just enjoyed our lunch views of Lake Wakatipu.

  

  

On the way back, the skies looked a little dark and blustery. These dark clouds made for excellent photographs and also for a bit of angst – would it start raining and make it difficult to ford the streams before we got past the last ford? Obviously, we made it, again with lots of oohs and aahs.

   
 
Again, enjoy the gallery – especially full screen:

  

   

  

46 S EnZed signing off…

 

   

 

Posted in Colonel's Homestead, Eyre Mountains, Lake Wakatipu, Mavora Lakes, Mount Nicholas, New Zealand, Queenstown, Thomson Mountains, Von River, Walter Peak Station Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Skippers Canyon

[landscapephotograph description=”Panoramic view of The Branches, on the Shotover River, Otago, New Zealand” photoname=”The Branches” photo=”https://timmulholland.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Branches-Pan-1.jpg” photourl=”http://timmulholland.photoshelter.com/image/I00006jT26j8X7ko”][/landscapephotograph]  

Near Queenstown, New Zealand, there’s a slightly remote and very beautiful place called Skippers Canyon. Queenstown considers itself to be the Adrenaline Capitol of the World, and Skippers Canyon and its Shotover River might well be the adrenaline capitol of Queenstown.

  

Historically, Skippers Canyon was a major area for gold mining in the late nineteenth century. Today, it’s a beautiful tourism area where it’s nice to get away from Queenstown’s crowds. No, Queenstown isn’t that crowded, but it does have a moderately high “chic” factor that doesn’t do a whole lot for me, sort of like Aspen. It’s a very pleasant drive from Queenstown to Skippers Canyon by roundabout way of Arrowtown (which is much more my speed).

  

Some tourism sites call Skippers Canyon New Zealand’s “Grand Canyon.” Skippers Canyon is very nice, and it is quite “grand” by New Zealand standards, but it’s not even a close comparison to the Grand Canyon. If you rent a car or campervan in New Zealand, the Skippers Canyon road is one of those roads that’s considered to be “out of bounds,” as in you’re not supposed to drive your rental vehicle there because they won’t insure it. If you get in trouble there, you’ll have a hard time getting the car rental agency to come and help rescue you, especially since your cellphone likely won’t work there. I won’t advise anyone who rents a vehicle whether to drive this road; I will write, however, that I’ve driven on a lot more difficult gravel roads in rural Iowa (and, with a school bus).  Just don’t look down…

  

We’ve been to Skippers Canyon three times and enjoyed it every time. The first time was on a hot Christmas Day. We didn’t quite know what we were going to experience and I didn’t come fully prepared. But, we did enjoy our drive on the narrow ledges and dusty road. It also was exciting to see how some of the local youth were enjoying their Christmas celebration. These kids went to Skippers Bridge, which is near the formal end of the Canyon, set up their barbecue (or, “barbie” in the local dialect) and rigged their own private bungy jump site on this remote, quiet bridge. There’s a Christmas that you won’t forget!

  

The second time that we went, we drove a bit further and ate lunch at the old Skippers Point School, which is an historic landmark. If you want to see Skippers Canyon and don’t want to drive the road yourself, there are several different tour companies in Queenstown that will gladly take you. Three or four of these little four-wheel drive vans were at the school at the same time and their patrons were enjoying their picnic lunches with New Zealand’s finest wines.

  

The last time that we were in Skippers Canyon in early April, we drove to the far end. Before you get to Skippers Point, there’s a side road that you need to take – The Branches Road. If you drive The Branches road, then Skippers Point is about the halfway point. The Branches road was much more challenging – more ruts, narrower, and not very well maintained. The scenery beyond Skippers Point was nice, but not spectacular.  That is, until you reach the end of the formal road at The Branches Station.

  

OMG! The Branches Station must have one of the best, if not THE BEST, views and settings in all of New Zealand. The Branches sits in a broad glacial valley with the cobbled Shotover River running through it. To the southwest, the direction from which we’ve driven, the views are nice. But, to the northeast, the mountain views are amazing!!! The good news is that you, too, can enjoy The Branches Station. It’s a luxury accommodation and it seems that most people who visit likely arrive by helicopter, not in their pokey old Subarus. And, the pleasure of staying at The Branches will only cost you a mere NZ$10,000/night (I rounded up by one dollar; and, that’s for two people with a two-night minimum).

  

So, after enjoying the high life at the gate to The Branches Station, we returned back down the Skipper Road, enjoyed some ice cream in Queenstown and slowly made our way back to Invercargill.

  

Enjoy the gallery: 
  
46 S EnZed signing off…

   

Posted in New Zealand, Queenstown, Skippers Canyon, The Branches Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Adrenaline!

Queenstown, in the southern end of the South Island, markets itself as the “adrenaline capital of the world.”  We’ve had the pleasure of visiting it several times since we’ve been here, averaging about one visit a month. We’ve gone skiing in the area twice, once to The Remarkables and the second time to Cardrona (our preference of the two was Cardrona).  We once drove north from Queenstown to Glenorchy and the Paradise Valley.  But, this trip…  OH BABY!!!  🙂

 

 

Over Christmas, we lived it up, and some of us more than others!  Muir is visiting us, as he’s on college break from American University.  Since we have someone here now who is younger and more foolish than us, we decided to have more fun.

 

 

On Christmas Day, after opening our few presents, we drove up to Skippers Canyon, which is west of Queenstown.  Skippers Canyon is a part of the original New Zealand goldfields from the early 1860’s.  Today, it’s a beautiful little canyon for jet boats and four-wheel drives.  Our little Subaru was easily up to the task.  Christmas Day here was hot – ~80 degrees F – and Skippers Canyon seemed even a little warmer.  It was a pleasant drive, except for the part where I backed off of the road, trying to get out of the way of a tourist bus on a very narrow section of the road.

 

 

The day after Christmas was one of the more exciting days of Muir’s life.  For a Christmas present, we gave him the gift of adrenaline – his very own bungy jump experience!  It was so interesting to enjoy the mixed look of excitement, happiness, joy and fear on his face.  And, me being me, I had all kinds of fun making jokes about his impending doom.  🙂

 

 

Now, just to be clear, I would have bungy jumped, too – it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for quite some time.  However, I have a couple of doctors who have advised me against it – something about my weak, old eyes and the distinct possibility of blindness.  So, I had to live vicariously…

 

 

The main bungy jump company in these parts is A.J. Hackett.  They operate three different bungy jumps in the Queenstown area.  Since this was Muir’s first time, we decided to go with the historic, first bungy jump location of the Kawarau Bridge for him.  There’s a location in Queenstown, but you jump off of a platform and head down toward a mountain slope which isn’t as exciting as jumping towards a river.  The other option is a major undertaking, Nevis Bridge, and it’s a bit higher – 143 m, vs. the 43m that Muir did at Kawarau. Without further adieu, here’s Muir (just click on the blue link below):

 

 

Muir at the Kawarau Bungy

 

 

Yep, that’s him, screaming like a big baby!  And, since he told me that he did feel a little uncomfortable hanging upside down with the blood rushing to his head, maybe it’s a good thing for my eyesight that I was just a spectator.

 

 

There are a lot of other things to do in Queenstown – horse riding, riding the gondola, eating (try Fergburger – it’s famous in these parts, but too much for us), riding the jet boats on the Shotover River, watching and feeding trout at the underwater world observatory, enjoying the zip line, shopping (ugh!), four-wheeling, riding mountain bikes, hiking, and a lot of other things…

Now, one of those other things is the Skyline Luge. OMG, what a great time! We went on the luge a couple of months ago, on our second or third trip to Queenstown.  Since Muir was here, we just HAD to do it again!  I remember riding my wagon down the little hill in our yard with my brother when I was growing up.  I have to say that the thrill is very similar, if not better, now that I’m older.  The luge tracks are a few hundred meters long and slope downhill with several twists and turns.  The scenic track is for beginners and it’s a bit slower, more twisty and the corners have cobbles on the edge to help slow you down when you miss the corners (which you will).   The adventure track is a bit steeper and faster, with a couple of slight jumps and the cobbles on the corners less aggressive.  The first time that you ride the luge each day, you must start on the scenic track; after that, you’re free to ride on either track. We rode the luges three times this day and I was smart enough to remember to try to capture a video on my second (and last) ride on the adventure track.  Yes, that’s me laughing in the video.  Also, I will say that it is more difficult to steer a luge when you also have your phone in your hand…  (just click on the blue link below)

 

 

Skyline Luge Adventure Track

 

 

My only question is why don’t they have a luge track and bungy jumping at Wisconsin Dells?  🙂

 

 

So, I hope that you enjoyed a part of our adrenaline rushes in Queenstown and I sincerely hope that you’ll have the opportunity to do the same!

 

 

46 S EnZed signing off…

 

 

Posted in Queenstown Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Christchurch Milford Tour Gallery

I’m not going to write a whole lot in this posting, and I’ll leave it to my photographs to tell the story.  Returning to our saga, in the first half of October we went on a campervan trip from Queenstown to Mount Cook/Aoraki, Lake Tekapo,  Christchurch, Arthurs Pass, Hokitika, Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, Haast and back to Queenstown, and then on to Milford Sound for a cruise.  Along the way, though, we got sidelined in Milford Sound by a rockslide.  Since we’ve been so busy with travels, I never really got around to posting any of my landscape photographs of this trip, although I did publish a quick gallery of our fun photos at Holiday Photo Gallery.

Here’s the gallery of landscape photographs taken from that trip.  Turn the screen size up to Full Screen, sit back and enjoy!  This will take a few minutes…  🙂

46 S EnZed signing off…

Posted in Arthurs Pass, Campervan, Castle Hill, Milford, Mt. Cook, New Zealand Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Queenstown

We were fortunate to spend some time in the area of Queenstown and north of there a few weeks ago.  As with most of New Zealand, it’s a stunning place – lakes, rivers, mountains, glacial outwash, forests – and rain.  🙂  Queenstown and Wanaka are two of my favorite cities to visit and use as a central base in southern NZ, but it’s even better to leave them behind and head out into the wilds and the parts of NZ that are less visited, like Glenorchy and Kinloch…

46 S EnZed signing off…

 

 

 

Posted in New Zealand, Queenstown Also tagged , , , , , , |

Skiwi

So, after my last post, I received a nasty comment from one of my most faithful readers.  This reader was upset/concerned that there was too much information on the minutiae of our lives here and not enough presentation of the fun and beauty of New Zealand.  It’s a reasonable complaint.  But, I have been busy with helping to set up the basics of our lives here and have not put a lot of effort into editing images and telling a bigger story.  I tried to explain about Maslow’s Hierarchy, but it went right over her head (and, who would have ever expected to read about Maslow’s Hierarchy in a blog about skiing in New Zealand).  But, that’s about to change!  Yes, She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed will finally get to see some photographs of beautiful New Zealand and of her family having fun in New Zealand!!!

 

 

We’ve been here for about three weeks now and this is the first weekend that we’re going to just sit around the house and be locals.  The first weekend, we drove to the ocean and Oreti Beach, just west of Invercargill on Saturday, and then to The Catlins on Sunday.  We made it back to The Catlins last Sunday.  I’ll share photos and more about The Catlins in another post – I’m still working on those photos (in part because I’m still trying to get my computer to work). During our second weekend here, we journeyed to Te Anau and then Queenstown.  Again, I’ll put some of those photographs later.  Just allow me to write that Te Anau and Queenstown are two of the most beautiful towns/cities that I’ve ever visited.  I can’t wait to get back to them.

 

Whilst in Queenstown, we took a trip up to The Remarkables Ski Area, a few kilometers south of Queenstown.  Down in the valley where Queenstown is located, the weather was cool, but very pleasant, even warm, for a skiing town.  When I’ve been in Colorado and Utah ski communities in the winter, there’s always this crispness to the air.  It’s warmer here as well as more humid.  The low-lying areas didn’t have any snow on them, but we very green for my perception of winter.

 

 

Getting to The Remarkables is about a twenty minute drive up the mountain on a gravel road.  It’s a beautiful drive and there aren’t a whole lot of guard rails alongside the road.  The ski area itself seems smaller than the few American ski areas I’ve visited, but it is larger and more terrain and vertical than Wisconsin’s ski areas!  🙂

 

 

 

 

While everyone else was skiing, I stayed safe with my camera, in part so that someone would be able to drive home.  The skiing looked fun, but not too long or technical – except for the rocks.  Since the temps were hovering just under freezing, it wasn’t really too cold and the kids enjoyed themselves for quite some time.  We’ll be back to The Remarkables or some other ski area either in the next few weeks or next winter.  But, it is a strange feeling to be skiing in August just a few weeks after we were broiling in Wisconsin!

Posted in Queenstown Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |