Monday, January 26, 2015

NEW ZEALAND's FIORDLAND: Part 1, Guest Post by Owen Floody

Nugget Point in the Catlins
Our friend Owen Floody did a trekking and photo tour of New Zealand's South Island this past fall (the Southern Hemisphere spring.)  Owen recently retired from a career of teaching and research at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. He has always been an avid photographer and in his retirement has taken numerous trips that allow him to pursue his passion. Here is the first part of a short reflection on his trip to New Zealand and some of his excellent photographs.

On a previous trip to New Zealand, I did a "grand tour" including both islands.  This was delightful.  New Zealand's small size and population make it ideal for self-driving, even for those unaccustomed to driving on the left.  New Zealand also offers great variety in the natural features on display.  Along with world-class thermal areas, these include snow-covered mountains, glaciers, beautiful beaches, and wonderful fiords. 

On my earlier trip, I was especially taken by Fiordland, the complex array of mountains, valleys and fiords that occupies the southwestern corner of the south island.  I promised myself that I would return there, both to do some of New Zealand's famous treks and to see more of the fiords.  This dream was realized in November - December of 2014, when I spent nearly three weeks at the southern end of the south island.  

To recover from jet lag after the long flight from the US, I spent my first few days exploring Dunedin, the adjacent Otago Peninsula, and the Catlins, a coastal area to the southwest.  Within Dunedin, I especially enjoyed the Otago Settler's Museum, near the well-known Railway Station.  The settlement of New Zealand by Europeans is surprisingly recent.  At the Settler's Museum is an impressive collection of portraits depicting many of the city's earliest European settlers, all arranged in order of arrival.  Many other exhibits also are well done, especially those that describe Dunedin's contributions to wars and other conflicts.

I also enjoyed my drives around the Otago Peninsula and through the Catlins. Highpoints were the views overlooking Sandfly Bay on the peninsula and Nugget Point in the Catlins.  In retrospect, though, I think that I would have been happier visiting these areas on organized tours.  I did manage to keep to the left on all of the narrow and winding roads, but the effort greatly reduced my ability to sightsee, especially when I was forced to drive in the rain.

(Continued next week: Part 2: The Milford Track and Routeburn)
Glacial Valley along the Milford Track


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