Back in 2007 during my senior year of high school, I was fortunate enough to travel with my aunt to New Zealand and Australia for about 2 weeks. A few of these photos may have been present on my site over the years, but I never really talked about where we visited while there.
We flew from Albany to Los Angeles and spent a night there before continuing overseas. While in LA, we were able to tour Warner Brothers Studios and took a quick trip down to Santa Monica Pier. At the end of the pier, it was amazing how little of the city you could see on that day due to the ocean spray in the air.
The next morning we left LA and flew into Auckland, New Zealand, which as I recall took about 10 hours. The time difference was pretty significant, so adjusting took a good 3-4 days at least. We stayed in the Langham Hotel in downtown Auckland, and once we settled in, were anxious to get out and about after sitting on the airplane all that time. We took a ferry over to Waiheke Island, known as New Zealand's "Island of Wine", and visited a winery and a few of the beaches while there.
The next day we headed up to the tip of the North Island to an area call the Bay of Islands. This was the first spot we could really get a sense of the New Zealand coast and how different it appears to the either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts in the US.
From Rotorua we flew down to the South Island to the Town of Queenstown, which was arguably one of my favorite locations on the whole trip. The town is built around a massive inlet called Queenstown Bay, and offered breathtaking views of the water and surrounding mountains. We took a gondola up to a restaurant and resort on one of the mountains where you could see the entire valley and town below.
The next morning we woke up very early to take day trip by bus to Milford Sound. While waiting for the bus, the sun was just starting to come up and colors on that cold morning were stunning.
We stopped several times on the bus ride out to Milford Sound, most notably at the Mirror Lakes walk which offered a clear view of the Earl Mountains. Our final destination was only a short distance further up the road, where we boarded a ferry that went almost all the way out to where the end of the sound meets the Tasman Sea. After returning to the dock, we boarded a small helicopter which provided an amazing aerial view of the sound. While in the air we also flew over the surrounding mountains and landed on top of the Donne Glacier on Mount Tutoko to stretch our legs. Having never been in a helicopter before, this was easily one of the most memorable events of the trip for me.
After returning to Queenstown that evening, the next day we took a bus further south to the City of Christchurch. Along the way we stopped at the edge of Lake Pukaki, where we were able to see an unusually clear view of Mount Cook.
A bit further up the road at Tekapo Lake, we could see clouds forming in one of the mountain valleys.
We ended up flying out of Christchurch the next day for Australia, and I'll be covering what we saw there in a future post.