New Zealand: The First Installment

New Zealand 4 Replies
Since arriving in Australia, I have been enchanted with tales of others’ travels to New Zealand. No one talks about visiting New Zealand without awe and overwhelm. I have been told over and over that you “have to pick an island” (North or South) and to “plan a minimum of two weeks to even begin to scratch the surface.”

And now it is with my own sense of stupefaction that I have managed to put off for two months writing about our trip to New Zealand. Every time I consider packing this trip into one, or even two posts, I feel a little like I am setting off on my own authorial journey to Middle Earth and I stop before I begin.

So, bear with me as I run amok, and ramble over a handful of posts about our two-week cruise. A few blog-bites is my only hope of getting it out.

After our last cruise to the South Pacific, I wrote a bit about Partner-in-Crime and my attitude towards cruising. The cruise lifestyle is not interesting to me, per se, except as a comfortable, convenient, and affordable way to see more cities than we likely could manage on our own. So, I won’t get into much about the boat experience, except to say that we cruised this time with Royal Caribbean, a new entrant into the Australian cruising market, and it was exceptional. In addition to the lovely ship and staff, may I just mention that there was American bacon (which I ate at literally every breakfast) and an actual ice machine. I did revel in all the little touches of home that I found on an American cruise ship.

Our cruise had 8 ports of call … well actually 9 because the first port was Sydney. We got on the ship on a Sunday, but did not depart until Monday night. Friends were texting us to tell us they were waving to us from their ferries into work, and I used my first “port day” to run home and pick up an extra sweatshirt and take a yoga class. The port officer seemed disappointed when he asked cheerily how I’d spent my day in Sydney, and I, in my American accent, informed in that I’d been to the gym.

On the way out, my friend Mimi sent me this photo she took for me of our ship leaving the Harbour. P-i-C and I were eating nachos and drinking margaritas in the Mexican restaurant, as we hit the seas.

Our first port wasn’t really a port to us and, actually, our second port wasn’t a port, either. First “stop” was a cruise through Fjordland National Park, and this day turned out to be one of my favorites, and decidedly the most beautiful. 

Very early in the morning, we reached Milford Sound, which is at the Southern tip of the South Island. It was cloudy and cold when we arrived on deck, but enough of the towering mountains were peeking through as we slowly cruised deeper into the fjord that we were suitably humbled. The crew provided hot chocolate, and P-i-C and I wandered the boat, trying to take in the experience from every angle.

First views of Milford Sound
The longer we were there, the clearer the sky got, until we were resting in the arms of a shocking blue abyss of sky and water, surrounded by mountains that reached to the heavens. A feature of Milford Sound is its waterfalls and, since it had been raining, they were particularly fervent. Stirling Falls meets the sea at a point in the fjord that is a drop-off so steep that the cruise ship can – and did – inch within a couple feet of the falls. I snagged a spot up front and went wild with my camera. 
Stirling Falls, from a distance

…closer…
…closer still…

…closest!

I really like this shot, below, at Milford Sound because it gives a sense of perspective. We were there at the same time as this other cruise ship, the Volendam. I saw it docked in Sydney Harbour the other day, and it is as big as any any cruise liner you’re likely to see. Here, it looks a bit like a toy in comparison to the mountains.

For the rest of the day, we toured two more sounds – Dusky and Doubtful (great names). The sun was painfully bright and it was cold and windy, but we could not have asked for better views. I feel so lucky because most of the remainder of our trip was rainy and dreadful weather – this is one part of NZ I feel lucky to have seen in the sunlight.
There is not much more that I can tell you that the pictures won’t reveal, so I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite shots from the rest of the day. 
And, next up, a bit more of the striking South Island.
Doubtful Sound
Rocking the windy day attire, not missing a moment.

Doubtful Sound
Dusky Sound
Dusky Sound
Dusky Sound
Ship’s wake, leaving Dusky Sound

4 thoughts on “New Zealand: The First Installment

  1. Pingback: The World Comes Ever More Into Focus | Between Roots and Wings

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