Back in the USA
Took the last leg of journey from Chicago Ohara to Tampa. The flight and airport were very empty. We sat up close to the front of plane. It was very quiet on the plane.
It’s been a great journey to New Zealand. It’s a great country with beautiful sea coast, towering mountains and beautiful hills. We were lucky to explore it.
Now we are back and under self quarantine for 2 weeks. I have lots of wash to do and will probably be making a book..
Stay healthy and safe everyone!
March 25 – we had an afternoon flight so we went to downtown to Wakatipu Beach in Queenstown in the morning. Lots of pretty rocks and nobody around. We got to the airport at noon for a 3:20 flight as we couldn’t get seats booked on line and wanted to make sure we got on. Anyway, we were 8 in line and got our tickets with seats and headed to Sydney. It was the last flight out of Queenstown !! Whew!!
In Sydney we had a 3 hour layover . We couldn’t choose our seats on that long flight either but we lucked out with being in the middle 4 seater aisle which is Not good But the person didn’t show for one seat on the aisle side and the other aisle seat was a recent groom who was separated from his bride and he managed to switch seats to sit beside her! Woohoo! So , we had 4 seats to ourselves! So nice to stretch out!
We landed in Hawaii on the Last flight out of Sydney and it was the pilots last day as he was retiring after 30 years! So everything is closing down..
so it is still March 25 even though it’s been over 24 hours.. we crossed the international dateline.
So we decided to rent a car today and toured Hawaii..
Our next stretch will be to Chicago tonight…
Level 3 today – most restaurants closed for 4 weeks, Level 4 tomorrow night – no travel although if you have an airline ticket you can get out sometimes from a big city. We fortunately went on the internet as soon as we heard the news and had booked an airline ticket out from Queenstown, NZ (last flight out of Queenstown)to Sydney, Australia and then east on various flights which keep canceling on us due to lockdowns in those states. But no worries. The airlines have been great at rebooking. So feeling confident with having a ticket for tomorrow we drove to Moke Lake, a remote lake about 20 minutes out of Queenstown. You have to go over a very large winding hill with sheep grazing at different levels of the hill. Even with it being overcast it was a nice day trip and saw maybe one or two people from a distance. After, we headed to Queenstown and walked through Queenstown Gardens and into its empty town where signs on stores say it all, “Stay home and stay safe!” (By the way I have a kitchen in hotel/apt and we have been buying and cooking our own food which may be a chance we are both taking as I am not a very good cook!!)
March 23 – we started to head to the west coast of New Zealand from Queenstown when we heard on the car radio, the Prime minister of New Zealand speak intelligently on the radio about the Corona Virus and how she plans to try to control it by declaring a level 3 and a level 4 to follow on Wednesday by midnight. So at the windy shores of Lake Wanaka we headed back to Queenstown to form Plan B. We had to go over some large hills on the way and it actually started to snow! It was quite light and the sun was out but it was really cool to see!!
biking from Arrowtown to Queenstown We are shuttled to Arrowtown with bikes where we begin our ride on the Queenstown trail. We biked over bridges and of course one was a swinging bridge! Oh Boy!! The day was warm as we biked up the hills where we were rewarded by beautiful vistas. We followed the river and eventually crossed the river at the Historic Bridge. We entered Queenstown on a path that went right into its center. After we celebrated our finish with a burger at Ferguson’s!! Yum!!
March 20 – we took the car, then a boat ride, then a very high mountain crossing bus ride to the Beautiful Doubtful Sound where we kayaked on glass-like water beside sheer cliffs and of course waterfalls. Breathtaking!!
This afternoon we took a cruise on Lake Te Anau aboard the M.Y. Faith (Motor Yacht) with her skipper Adam and First Mate Rebecca. It is a motor sail yacht built in 1939 in England for a private owner and was appropriated by the British government for service in WW II but returned to its owner 2 years later. It’s entire history, and how it made its way to New Zealand, is very interesting. Let me say it involves Winston Churchill and leave it at that. If one looks carefully they can find the initials WC on the yacht!
Midway through the cruise we landed in a remote part of Fjordland National Park. I should mention here that Fjordland is huge. It is about 5% of New Zealand’s land mass or the size of Connecticut. Rebecca took us on a hike to Hidden Lake and on the way there and we saw and learned about the trees, ferns, birds and a particularly interesting plant called bracket fungi. The top of the fungi is like smooth hardwood and can take on many creative shapes.
When we returned to Faith and got underway we helped hoist the sails for our return to port. It was a special time with Adam and Rebecca. One can tell they really enjoy what they do.
Dinner was at Ristorante Pizzeria Paradiso
(Hey Frank and Dale we remembered) and it was really good!
Early this morning the cruise continued from Hamilton bay where the boat had been anchored for the night. We headed toward the end of the sound and the Tasman Sea. On our way our captain steered the boat directly under Fairy falls where we experienced the mist from this magical place. On our return we encountered a pod of bottle nose dolphins and we were entertained by their play and swimming along the ships bow wake.
We docked and boarded the bus for our scenic return to Te Anau.
Headed off from Queenstown to Te Anau in the now beat up rental car. It was slow going on winding roads much of the way but as usual the scenery was really something. Caught the 12:25 bus in Te Anau to Milford Sound. The only road to the sound was washed out in several places 7 weeks ago from torrential rains. Therefore only convoys of busses have been allowed . Again the scenery was fantastic but half way there we went through a tunnel and when we came out on the other side it was as though we had entered a lost world of sheer cliffs, snow covered peaks and green valleys. It’s no wonder this area was used to film Lord of the Rings.
We boarded the Milford Mariner when we got to the Sound and headed out to cruise the fjord. Steep cliffs, waterfalls, snow covered mountains, deep blue water, NZ fur seals and dolphins were all waiting to be enjoyed. We also cruised under the waterfalls and kayaked with the seals. It was unbelievable!
Out early this morning headed north from Queenstown to Glenorchy for kayaking on Lake Wakatipu. Our leader Will provided us and 3 other yakers with a great paddle on calm water of Pigeon and Pig islands. We landed on Pigeon island for a hike to a vista point high above the water. There we saw the most spectacular rainbow in the mist on the side of a mountain across the water from us.
Will recommended having lunch at the Glenorchy cafe where they serve a BLT which was quite tasty.
Driving back to Queenstown there were several photo stops along the very windy coast. Dinner was a burger, fries and shake from the famous Fergburgers. Scrumpdillyiscious!!
At dusk it was up the Sky Line gondola to the top of Queenstown hill for a stargazing program. The program was canceled but there was still a spectacular view of the lights from the city below.