Last days in New Zealand

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Waiting for our plane to take us from Queenstown to Auckland.

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Auckland is a vibrant and crowded melting pot of a city. We went to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki to kill some time. Acted a foo when we went to the kids exhibit and tried on some costumes in front of a sweet backdrop.

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Mitsy being a photographer. We played a little paper football and I drank a pour over.

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Sky Tower above.

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Some tasty frites, and my classy little breakfast flying home.

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Tramping the Milford Track, day 4

Second group out the door in the morning from the hut. We wanted to leave not our departure to chance. Our boat was to pick us up at 2PM, and given the estimated 5-6 hour hike ahead of us, we didn’t drag our feet with breakfast.

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Bridge over the Arthur river.

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Mackay falls, had lunch here and took our sweet time to soak it in, just jaw dropping.

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Giant Gate falls, the last epic waterfall before our completion.

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The final leg of our journey, Sandfly point didn’t disappoint (i.e. tons of damn sandflies…) Celebrated with a kiss and a beer, what an epic journey.

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Nice view as a reward for the completion.

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We had arrived an hour early, glad we didn’t show up late for our boat ride!! A closeup of the damn critter below that was tormenting us. Sandflies, small but annoying as hell.

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Brad, one classy dude, and the only other American we met along the way. Mitsy with an arm full of sandflies hoping to get at that sugary blood of hers.

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Trying to keep protected from the bugs… Our boat ride home was bittersweet. Glad a hot shower and some tastier grub was waiting, but sad to leave.

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Little Netflix and chill pad we hung out at for a few minutes in Milford Sound before the bus took us back home.

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Kea wanting to say goodbye to us (or hoping we had some crackers).

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Tramping the Milford Track, day 3

Started the day climbing up to Mackinnon pass with potential weather issues on the horizon. Nothing but a light mist came but passed soon and the sky opened up once more. It would seem luck is on our side and we have avoided inclement weather on the tougher day, thank goodness.

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Monument dedicated to Quintin Mackinnon, an explorer that helped flesh out this route through the fjord.

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Nothing but fog, and then one moment of a window which I was able to capture of the valley we had just hiked through. Other trampers came running to capture the same only to have the fog obscure it moments later.

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Down well constructed stairs aside beautiful blue waterfalls and pools.

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Anderson cascades above.

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Our first view of Sutherland falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in New Zealand at 580 meters (1,904 feet).

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Getting blasted by mist to snap this pic, taken by a helpful hiker.

Tramping the Milford Track, day 2

There’s no describing it, it’s just shear beauty. I look at these photos with heavy heart wishing this day to return. Mitsy and I got up with blue still diffused by the mist, sun was hiding behind the sharp peaks to our East. We hiked through this mist for quite some time and it made the track this day magical.

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Hard to see in the above picture, but there is one lone trout hanging out in the water.

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Sign says fist sight of Mackinnon Pass, couldn’t see shit…

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On our way to Prairie lake. One of the more magical sights on this trip.

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Double rainbow, making a rainbow eye reflection. Never seen that before…

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Mackinnon pass in the distance. Finally the mist clears a bit.

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In efforts to prevent tracking in of dirt, we all left our boots at the door each night at the hut, this is at Mintaro hut.

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Tramping the Milford Track

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The start, just after the dock.

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Straight into Dagobah.

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Frosty field as we pass Glade house.

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Wetland viewing area, small detour off the track.

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Many “guardians of the track” came to visit us and watch us walk by. Some even followed us for some time. This chubby little bird was particularly fearless and even jumped on another hikers boot.

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Scenic streams as we make final strides to Clinton hut. Below we enjoy our sandwiches for lunch.

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Skipped so many rocks it’s not even funny.

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The four Frenchmen playing cards, we all met up int he big kitchen room to talk story and enjoy the final hours of each day before we passed out in our sleeping bags. We met some awesome people along the way.

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Te Anau to Milford Track

Te Anau is a town a 2 hours drive from Queenstown. Around it are a host of hikes, otherwise known in these parts as “tracks.” Hikers are not referred to as hikers, but trampers. I was told by an ol’ timer named Barry that calling someone a hiker is saying they’re “akin to all but walking around in high heels.” Tramping is more serious, and requires a more “intrepid” adventurer he continued.

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One last fancy meal before we hit the trail, here I’m eating venison. Mitsy with her more traditional burger and fries.

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Te Anau is a cute little town that caters well to backpacker types. Grabbed our hut passes and took a walk around the area before setting off on the boat to the start of the Milford Track.

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Dock at Te Anau Downs.

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Solo trekker that didn’t speak much English, he was to spend 5 days alone on the track.

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Various ‘sounds’ leading into mountain valleys.

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Early morning mist blanketing the inlet to the start of the Milford Track.

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Road to Queenstown

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Final view of Fox Glacier as we left Fox Glacier, that sounds redundant.

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Scoping out Ship Creek on the way to Queenstown, scenic beach, lots of sand flies.

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If we were pissing this color I’d be worried. Runoff from the forest into the ocean, the soil turns the water a very interesting color.

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Took our Fox Glacier hosts (Gary) recommendation and hiked down to the blue pools. Well that title couldn’t describe them better. I ended up crossing the river barefoot and the frigid waters burned my feet. Apparently people jump off the bridge all the time though.

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We skipped many rocks this trip.

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Passing some lakes. First view of Lake Hawea below.

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Made it with daylight to spare, drank a beer to celebrate. Very cute little town, although a bit on the touresty side.

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And Mitsy is reunited with her favorite store.

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Ice climbing the Fox Glacier 2

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Had a bangup time stabbin the snow. Taking in the sites between climbs made for a lovely day.


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Super fortunate our guides were comfortable enough with us to take us down into a moulin, or circular melt cave inside the glacier. The passing of helicopters above made the whole experience surreal, we hiked in 10 or so feet until it started to get snug and snapped a few photos.

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Getting hoisted to safety.

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Group photo credit to Marc Kaplan.

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Flying out of the glacier, stoked, exhausted, high on life, all of the above…

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Ended the night with one of the most scrumptious pizzas I’ve ever had.

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Went through Fox Guides to get our asses up the Fox Glacier. Mitsy had this one brainstormed first, and we couldn’t say no since it looked so sick. It was a large part of the day, and our guide Sarah was a class act making sure we all got our hero photos and teaching us the basics of ice climbing on a glacier.

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Gearing up at the town before heading to the choppa.

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Oh snap, it’s getting real, taking the bus.

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Crew of 4 for the adventure.

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Pumped to get up in the air!

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Some Kea coming to say hi, they’re mountain parrots that chew up everything.

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First time in crampons.

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Marc, looking like a goddamn badass.

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Mitsy practicing her technique before we rope up and climb.

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Sarah our fearless leader.