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Friday, December 28, 2012

Below the 45th Parallel

Finally made it to Queenstown this afternoon!

I rose early and went out looking for Keas, but failed. Got back to the room just as rain began falling and woke the others. After a nice pancake breakfast, we headed up into the misty mountains, just like a band of Dwarves ( ok, not really, we were in a Toyota and we have no swords, but we did eat bacon...). We had hoped to get lucky and catch a glimpse of a kea over the Haast Pass, but I guess I'll not be twitching that bird, after all. ::sad face::

Each of the three hours on the road felt like a whole day. The first half of the journey we were in the rainforest, and the scenery rarely changed, except when a break in the roadside bush afforded a river view or a glimpse of a waterfall across the valley. We made one stop to walk in to Thunder Creek Falls, as it was only 5 minutes from the road.

I'm still amazed at the color of the water in every river and lake here. It's either opal green or turquoise blue. The rivers are stunning: blue, clear and fast-moving.

Suddenly we were out of the rain forest and the landscape opened up into wide valley, sheer, high scrub-covered mountains with craggy tops. We drove along huge lakes and then there were vineyards, orchards and sheep. We drove through Kawarau Gorge, famed for its bridge jumping, jet boats, Goldfields Mining Center, and Roaring Meg Power Station. Sorry, didnt stop for pics :-/.

Being in some narrow spots between towering cliffs in the gorge made me feel tiny.

Soon we were passing wineries and lodges and entering Frankton. A few miles later we were at our resort. The office was closed, but a key was left for us. Its weird--the office is only open 9-noon daily, and closed on Sunday. We unloaded the car, went next door to the Frankton Tavern for lunch, then visited a very busy grocery store called New World.

The view from our condo is beautiful. We can walk across the street to the lake. There are bicycles we can borrow, too, so if it stays dry, Treklet and I will go explore a bit.

The Alien had a nap, I bought wifi and got caught up on email and photo uploads. The weather is turning...the temperature has dropped quite a bit and there are thick clouds. Our complimentary newspaper is forecasting wind and rain through New Years Day. Boo!

Here's hoping the forecasters are wrong and we can enjoy a jet boat ride or a swim tomorrow. I'm not sure I'm up to a 12-hour tour to Milford Sound. It's 4-1/2 hours each way on a coach. I'M SICK OF DRIVING!!

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