Trip Pictures

Tracy in Christchurch

Antarctic Program

Tracy @ Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Church @ Lake Tekapo

Church

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Tracy @ Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Mount Cook National

Park

Lake Pukaki

Mount Cook

Mount Cook

Sheep

Mount Cook

Mount Cook

Mount Cook

Mount Cook

Mount Cook

Mount Cook

Ball Hut Trail

Tracy

Tracy

Tasman Lake

Tasman Lake

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Tracy @ Tasman

Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Lake

Tracy @ Tasman

Glacier

Murchison River

Valley

DOC Truck

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Tracy

Tracy

Tracy

Tracy

Tracy @ Tasman

Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Southern Alps

Tasman Glacier

Cairn

Tracy

Tasman Glacier

Tracy

Tracy

Tasman Glacier

Ball Flat

Ball Flat Hut

Ball Flat

Ball Flat Hut

Tasman Glacier

Ball Flat Hut

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Ball Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Return the ring

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Ball Flat

Southern Alps

Tasman Glacier

Tracy

Tracy

Mt Cook Visitor Center

Glaciers

Glaciers

Valley

Steps

Mount Cook

Mueller Hut Trail

Trail

Steps

Hooker Lake

Hooker Lake

Hooker Lake

Hooker Valley

Hooker Valley

Mount Cook

Valley

Tracy on scree

Valley

Glaciers

Glaciers

Glaciers

Glaciers

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Mueller Hut Trail

Tracy

Mueller Hut

Mueller Hut

Mueller Hut

Mueller Hut

Mueller Hut

Mueller Hut

Outhouse

Glaciers

Mueller Glacier

Glacier

Glaciers

Avalanche

Avalanche

Glaciers

Glaciers

Tracy

Sunrise @ Mueller Hut

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Tracy on scree

Tracy

Cairn

Cairn

Tracy

Hooker Valley

After sprain

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Rainbow

Ducks

Elk (or actually

moose...)

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Tunnel

Tunnel

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Milford Sound

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Lots of German

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Fiordlands

Lake Wanaka

Paintball

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

Mount Aspiring

Waterfall

Cairn

Waterfall

Rain Forest

Waterfall

Trees

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tracy

Trees

Rain Forest

Rain Forest

Tracy

Fox Glacier from Rain

Forest

Fox Glacier

Rain Forest

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Waterfall

Waterfall

Tracy

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Tracy

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Tracy @ Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Tasman Sea

Penguin Sign

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Trees

Kea

Kea

Kea

Kea

Scary bridge

Lake Poerua

Lake Poerua

Lake Poerua

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Thick Vegetation

Thick Vegetation

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Blowholes

Blowholes

Blowholes

Rainbow

Rainbow

Blowholes

Blowholes

Rainbow

Blowholes

Rainbow

Blowholes

Blowholes

Blowholes

Blowholes

Blowholes

Blowholes

Rainbow

Rainbow

Rainbow

Bird

Cave

Cave

Cave

Cave

Cave

Seal

Seal

Seal

Seal

Seal

Creek

Lake Rotoiti

Tracy

Lake Rotoiti

Rivendell

Nelson Lakes

Tracy

Nelson Lakes

Tracy

Lake Rotoiti

Pacific Ocean

Tracy

Pasture

Moon

Tracy learning that the

moon is upside down

Seal

Seaweed

Seaweed

Seal

Seal

Seal

Seal

Seal

Pacific

Tide pool

Pacific

Pacific

Seal

Seal

Seal

Seal

Seal

Tree

Tree

Seal

Not penguins

Not penguin

Volcano

New Zealand

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From 24 Feb 12 to 7 Mar 12, Tracy and I took a vacation to the wonderful South Island of New

Zealand.  We flew into Christchurch, rented a car, and then headed out.  I was apprehensive

about my first time driving on the left side of the road, but nobody died.  The first day was a

little touch and go, though, because I kept hugging way over on the left side of the road...I

think I was scared of getting in a head-on crash, so I tried to stay away from the middle of the

road!  But after the first day, I pretty much got the hang of it.  It was still pretty common for me

to turn on the windshield wipers when trying to turn on the blinker, but that was about the worst

of it.  I was glad I had a New Zealand GPS app on my iPhone, though...that worked great and

kept me from having to worry about navigating.  But, honestly, most of the roads were two lane

country roads with very little traffic, so there wasn't much to worry about.

We drove the first day all the way to Twizel.  The drive was beautiful, and we quickly learned

how great New Zealand was.  Once we got to Twizel, we bought groceries for our three day

backpacking trip, which included several foods we soon learned we didn't enjoy.  In fact, we

ended up not being very big fans of New Zealand food at all.  We walked around the small

town some, then went back to the hotel for a quick nap about 7:30 pm.  We woke up five hours

later with our clothes and shoes still on...evidently, the 26 hour flight had really wiped us out.

We changed and went back to sleep.  I woke up around 4 am after about 8 hours of sleep, and

went outside to check out the southern hemisphere night sky.  I guess I had expected that the

entire sky would be unrecognizable because all of the constellations would be different.  The

first thing I saw, though, was Orion.  But it looked weird.  I was surprised to see a constellation

I knew, but even more confused when I realized it was upside down.  I spent an hour trying to

figure that out but couldn't  figure out what was going on.  The Milky Way was considerably

brighter than at home, which was cool.  I also saw the Space Station, which was really cool.

And, of course, there were lots of constellations I didn't recognize.  I saw Alpha Centauri, the

closest star to our solar system, and the Southern Cross for the first time.  And, yes, I had the

Crosby, Stills and Nash song in my head the whole time!  When I got back to the room I got

online and found why Orion was upside down: because *I* was upside down!  Since I usually

saw Orion from the northern hemisphere, now I was facing "downward" on the planet, so the

sky was upside down.  Super cool!

After Tracy got up, we cleaned up, packed up our packs, then headed to Aoraki/Mount Cook

National Park.  The drive along Lake Pukaki was really pretty, as it approached the mountains

through the glacial valley.  Once in the Park, we got our overnight permits for Ball Hut that

night and Mueller Hut the next night, then headed out to Ball Hut.  The hike up the Tasman

Glacier moraine and above Tasman Glacier was just absolutely amazing.  The Tasman

Glacier was gigantic...just absolutely huge.  The glacier was covered in boulders and gravel,

so we initially thought we were looking at the remnants of an old glacial cut.  But eventually we

figured out that it was a very active glacier, and we were looking at the effects of a large

glacier.  It was incredible.  You could here rocks falling off the glacier and see icebergs in the

Tasman Lake.  And further up the glacier you could see where the snow stayed on top of the

gravel all year and the glacier continued up into the mountains.  The glacial valley looked like

complete and total destruction, and the gravel-covered glacier didn't look pretty like a normal

glacier, but it was still awe inspiring.  We made it the 5.8 miles up to Ball Hut in the mid-

afternoon, and had the three bed hut to ourselves when we arrived.  I tried hiking a little up to

Ball Glacier, but the trail was covered in scree and very steep, so I backed off after a little

climbing.  Then I just sat by the edge of the glacier listening to the boulders crashing off the

snow and ice.  Late in the evening other people started showing up, and we ended up sharing

the hut with two other people.

The next day (Tuesday), we got an early start and headed back to the car.  Back at the

visitor's center we returned our Ball Hut permit, confirmed our Mueller Hut permit, then set out

for the climb up Mueller Hut.  Now, I knew that this was about 3300 feet of elevation gain in

just over 3 miles, so I expected it to be hard, especially with our full packs.  But it was much

harder than I expected.  The first half of the trail is almost entirely stairs...yes, nearly a mile

and a half of many, many stairs.  That was tough.  The last half wasn't any better...every bit as

steep but without the stairs and without switchbacks.  I should have gotten some sports drink,

because my left leg tried to cramp up a couple of times...that was new.  And the last push up

to the saddle was a nearly vertical scree slope.  We had done steep scree before, but, for

some reason, Tracy didn't like it, and she got really worried about having to come back down it

the next day.  I didn't think it was that bad, though, and certainly not as bad as Huron Peak

had been.  But after about four hours we were up to the hut, and we were surrounded by

calving glaciers.  The views around the hut were abolsolutely amazing, and listening to the

glaciers calve was incredible.  We managed to see one of the glaciers as it was calving, and

that was really cool.  Mueller Hut is a big hut, and we shared it with about 10 other people.  In

our room was a couple from Alaska, one girl from Belgium, and another girl from Holland.

Everyone was really nice.  We were worn out, and got to sleep fairly early.

On Wednesday we got up early because there was a chance of rain in the forecast and Tracy

was stressed about getting down the scree slope.  Before leaving, though, I saw one of the

most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.  Look at the pictures...it almost looks fake...it looks

like I'm overlooking a lake of fire.  It was incredible.  We got down the scree slope with no

problems, and I started to tell Tracy that she had done the hard part and didn't need to worry

anymore.  But I thought better of it because there was still a lot of dangerous downhill hiking to

do, and I didn't want her to get complacent.  It didn't matter, she said it herself.  I reminded her

to still be very careful, but 15 minutes after the scree section I heard a thump.  I looked up and

Tracy was sitting on the ground a few steps off the trail in some grass.  I said, "You shouldn't

be walking on that slick grass."  She responded, "I just ruined our New Zealand trip.  I heard

my ankle snap."  She had slipped off of a tuft of grass and turned her ankle.  Being an idiot, I

took off her boot, and it had already swollen to the size of a softball.  Not good.  We were two

miles and 2300 feet above the trailhead.  The Alaskans reached us a few minutes later and we

started trying to take care of her.  Then the girls from Belgium and Holland came down and

started helping.  After about 15 minutes, a guy from Israel who had camped outside the hut

came by.  It turned out he was a medic, and he took control.  Of course, we hadn't done

anything right, and he undid everything we did and then wrapped her up.  He decided he didn't

think he anke was broken, but it was very badly sprained.  The swelling had gone down to

about the size of a baseball, and he was able to get her boot back on.  The Belgian girl was

also super helpful and took Tracy's pack and carried it down the mountain and left it at the

visitor's center.  The Israeli was a life-saver, because he got her wrapped up securely.  We

then spent the next four hours getting the two miles off that mountain.  Tracy was a real

trooper.  Despite the pain, she just did what she had to do, and I was very proud of her.

Luckily, the pending rain kept the trail uncrowded, and we eventually made it off the mountain.

I then got her bags of ice to put on the ankle, found her backpack, bought some t-shirts, then

we headed out to Wanaka.  Wanaka was where we were headed for the night anyway, but it

was also the closest doctor in the direction we were going: two and a half hours away.  The

doctor didn't think it was broke, either, but the xray was already closed for the day, so we had

to go back the next day for an xray.  So we went to the hotel and tried to recover.  We were

every bit as sore as we had been when we backpacked out of the Grand Canyon, so we were

in some good pain!

We got up the next day and got Tracy's xray, which confirmed that the ankle wasn't broken.

But they said it would be several weeks before she healed, so we would have to take it easy

for the rest of the trip.  The doctor suggested Milford Sound, so we headed south to Te Anau.

After several hours of driving through nice pasture lands, we arrived in Te Anau and got a

hotel room.  From there, we drove down to Milford Sound.  The Sound was beautiful, and

Fiordlands would have been a great park to backpack.  It was a rain forest, so it was

completely different from Mount Cook.  Tracy was in a lot of pain, though, so we just walked a

little on a couple of flat paved trails.  From there, we returned back to Te Anau for the night.

On Friday we got up and headed back towards Wanaka to make our way over the the West

Coast.  On the way we stopped off in Queenstown.  Queenstown was like Moab on steroids: it

was crazy crowded and it all of the industry was focused on outdoor activities.  It was kinda

cool, but it was way too crowded for my taste.  From there we continued on to Wanaka for

lunch, and I decided that Wanaka was my favorite town so far.  It was small but big enough to

have what you need, it is surrounded by mountains and national parks, and it has a big lake

right in town.  From there we headed over the mountains to the coast.  We walked a little at a

couple of waterfalls on the way, but Tracy was still hurting so we didn't walk much.  Once we

reached the coast, we stopped at our first beach of the Tasman Sea, and we were attacked by

horrible bugs.  The vegetation here was very thick and reminded us of the rain forest.  We

then made our way to Fox Glacier for the night.

The next day we hiked up to Fox Glacier.  Tracy was starting to feel better, so she didn't have

too much problem on the short mile hike up to the glacier.  We started early enough, so there

weren't many people on the hike up.  On the hike back, though, we ran into bus loads of

people, and we were glad to start moving.  The past couple of days had been crowded, and I

was beginning to get irritated by the numbers of people.  We then continued north up the

coast.  We stopped in a small town called Ross and got sandwiches that we took out to the

beach.  From there we drove up to Arthur's Pass National Park where the original plan had

been to backpack that night.  Once we got there, though, it was chilly, the mountains were very

steep, and they looked a lot like mountains in Colorado.  We couldn't have backpacked with

Tracy's ankle, anyway, but we felt like we weren't missing much, and might not have

backpacked that night, anyway.  So we turned around to head back to the coast.  We took a

back road through the foothills, and that was perfect.  It was completely deserted, and we

found a really nice lake where we just sat and enjoyed the afternoon...I needed to get away

from the people.  We continued on the long, leisurely drive through remote farmland, before

finally driving into Greymouth in the evening.  We found a hotel and walked around town at

night a little.

We got up on Sunday and drove up the coast to Paparoa National Park.  The views over the

sea from this drive were wonderful.  We made it to the park and walked out to Pancake Rocks

and the Blowholes.  The blowholes were awesome.  They were rock formations along the sea

where waves would crash into canyons in the rocks and shoot water up the sides into the air:

blowholes.  It was like watching geysers.  The crashing waves roared loudly into the canyons,

and the big waves would shoot up the rock faces and spray into the sky.  And when the waves

were particularly big, the spray would leave behind a great rainbow.  We stayed there enjoying

the blowholes for over an hour...it was well worth the drive up to the park.  We then checked

out a small cave in the park.  We considered going on a commercial caving tour to see glow

worms, but the trips were just too expensive for our taste, so we continued driving up the coast

before turning inland just before Westport.  From there, we headed to our reserved hotel in

Saint Arnaud.  The drive from the coast to Saint Arnaud seemed to take forever.  The road

was narrow and winding, and by the time we rolled into Saint Arnaud I was sick of driving.  We

checked into our hotel and walked a little around the very small town and Lake Rotoiti.  We

also decided we would try the backpacking trip we had planned the next night up to Angelus

Hut in Nelson Lakes National Park.  We had already reserved and paid for the hut that sets

beside a high-altitude lake, so we wanted to give it a shot.  After looking more closely at the

map, though, we decided the trail up was way too steep and there was no way Tracy could do

it.  We talked to the rangers, though, and they said we could stay at another hut on the way for

free if we couldn't make it, so we decided to try our luck with that.

We then got up on Monday and started backpacking.  Unfortunately, two things happened: the

trail looked exactly like something you might see hiking in Citico, and the trail was almost

completely covered in tree roots.  The ground was also slick, and so the roots made the

walking tricky.  Normally this wouldn't have been a problem, but with Tracy's weak ankle, this

seemed like a recipe for disaster.  Coupled with the fact that the forested trail reminded us of

Tennessee, it didn't much seem worth the risk.  So after a mile or so, we decided to turn

around.  So we headed back to the car and decided to do more driving.  I was pretty tired of

driving, but the mountains here were just not something Tracy could hike with her bad ankle.

We drove through the beautiful pasture lands east of St Arnaud, then drove up to the straits

between Havelock and Picton.  That drive was very winding, and took a long time, but was also

very pretty.  We then continued down the east coast along the Pacific Ocean, before stopping

for the night in Kaikoura.  We tried to find a place to car camp, but didn't have any luck.  We

hiked a short way up a trail outside of Kaikoura, and then went into town for the night.

The next day, our last full day in New Zealand, we hiked along the coast and photographed

seals.  We then drove on into Christchurch where we already had a room reserved for the

night.  We checked in, unloaded the car, then went on a long walk through Hagley Park and

the very nice botanical gardens.  This was great park, and we walked for several hours...much

to the dismay of Tracy's ankle after we were done.  We then went back to the room, packed,

re-packed, got some dinner, and called it a night.  We got up the next day, probably re-

packed, because that's how I roll, got some breakfast and an American-style breakfast place,

shopped around a little, then headed out to return the car.  I was happy to return the car

without damage after a week and a half of driving on the left side of the road.  We then made

our way to the airport, and began the 26 hour trip back to Utah.

This was an amazing trip.  I have described it by saying that we saw places that reminded us

of the best places in Colorado, Montana, California, Hawaii, Alaska, and Tennessee.  This

makes you think that it's not worth going there if it just looks like places you can see in the U.S.

But there were plenty of places we saw that were uniquely New Zealand, and it's important to

remember that we saw all those great places on just half of one island, so it was packed in to

one place.  This was my first time (not counting Canada) being in a foreign country that spoke

English...it felt a little weird.  Tracy said she was glad they drove on the left side of the road,

because it made it feel more like a foreign country!  This trip was outstanding, and I highly

recommend New Zealand as an active vacation.