The last day on the Hollyford Track, they let us off easy. We jet boated out to the sand bar where many a ship had crashed trying to service the few settlements back in the day. I could try to retell the hilarious and harrowing stories of the hard-core settlers, and Maori legends that explained the biological idiosyncrasies of the indigenous plants, but there’s no way I could capture the magic of hearing it all from your guides when you’re standing on a at the edge of a tiny island in the middle of the pacific ocean.
Day By Day
Day 6 – Feb 2nd – Day 3 of 3 on Hollyford Track – Beaches, Snapper and a Helicopter ride into Milford’s Sound
Day 5 – February 1st – Hollyford Track day 2 of 3 – Baby Seals, Jet Boats and Fungi by Anthropologie
Day two of the Hollyford Track started out with the obligatory fantastic breakfast of eggs benedict and then we were off into nature.
A splurge of our trip that was worth every penny was a guided 3-Day hike along the Hollyford Track. Our guides, Mush, a geologist and hiking enthusiast, and Kahu, a recent high school grad with a new found enthusiasm for his Maori heritage lead us from the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps, though native rain forest, myth and history rich rivers and lakes, and to the remote sand dunes and surf of the rugged West Coast.
Today, we took advantage of what Queenstown is all about – extreme sports and the great outdoors. At 8am a bus from Queenstown Rafting picked us up and drove us through the countryside, then up one of the most dangerous mountain roads in NZ – the sheer-cliff-hugging Skipper Canyon Road. (If you rent a car anywhere in the country, it’s written into the contact that you will NOT be covered if you drive this path)
Our overall plan for our trip was to fly from Auckland (cheapest city to fly into) down to the lower South Island (Queenstown) and work our way back up to eventually fly out of Auckland at the end of our trip.
A 7:00am bus ride to the airport had us admiring the massive mountains of Queenstown – NZ’s ‘adventure capital’, from the tarmac by 9:30am. The flight down was a sightseeing event in itself with great views of the coast and active volcano Mount Taranaki. Queenstown’s downtown and sailboat-strewn suburbs are scattered along the bright blue waters of Lake Wakatipu, shaped like a giant in repose. There’s a great Maori Legend as to why this is so.
Sorry NZ’s largest city, we only gave you an evening, but you proved yourself and we’ll be back. I wish we’d had a full day to explore the rose garden in Parnell, the suburb of Devenport and the Art Gallery and its surrounding parks, but by the time we cleared customs at the airport and caught the Air Bus straight to downtown, it was 6pm. But we made the most of it!
FUN FACT: Turns out you need a VISA to visit Australia, and when I say ‘visit’ I mean ‘your scheduled flight has a layover there on the way home’. Lesson learned.
FUN FACT: It only takes two minutes to obtain a visa at the Virgin Australia Desk an hour before your flight, making this the most efficient place/time to get a visa, anyway. Score. Lesson learned.
FUN FACT: Airport bartenders are vulnerable to sentiment and will give you a refill on your glass of wine if you mention that it’s your honeymoon. Offering to ‘check out their band’s website’ may also be required.
FUN FACT: Swear words aren’t allowed on in-flight movies, but instead of recording alternate lines, someone just SHOUTS a less offensive word over the actual word. Shit is exchanged for… spit, whenever possible.
FUN FACT: Your small hair gel container that is approved for travel around the fear-mongering US is actually too big to get into Australia.
FUN FACT: The Sydney terminal sells FLIGHT ENERGY DRINK CONCENTRATES in 100ml bottles. If you chug the horrible stuff you can then replace it with hair gel.
FUN FACT: Standing at security for ten minutes pumping a hair gel into an energy drink bottle is embarrassing, but you will feel proud and resourceful when you triumph.