The Two Amigos Visit New Zealand-another 15000 Mile Epic Trip

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#1
Well it's taken me the better part of the past 3 days since returning home to get over the jet lag and begin to feel normal. By means of preface those who have followed the three Amigos know we have had some epic vacations. The last one to Russia and Italy was unforgettable but this last one which was over a year in the planning stages was beyond anything I had ever expected as the Two Amigos, our spouses and 3 other couples visited for 18 days the most beautiful country of New Zealand. Traveling across the dateline and 15 time zones was no easy feat but once there I can honestly say that New Zealand was probably one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited.

To put things in perspective the state of California in which I reside has a population of 40 million whereas the entire country of New Zealand has a population of just under 5 million on both islands. People are few and far between. The motorways (as they are called) are only one lane in each direction. No one speeds and it was rare for even a car to overtake and pass us on the roads.There were no horns honking and no one smoking cigarettes. The air was free of smog or any pollutants (other than Rotorua on the North Island which commonly has a smell of hydrogen sulphide). Gone was my nasal congestion and dry eyes. It was an exhilarating healthy feeling.

The people of New Zealand were so friendly and were always there to give advice and sit and chat. We were told by a "kiwi" that the reason they are so friendly is that they have so few people with whom to talk. :)

We were blessed with almost perfect weather other than one day in which we were staying at one of the Wilderness Lodges and we were all kayaking on a lake when we were greeted by a torrential downpour. It rained more in those 4 hours than I think it does in an entire rainy season in California. We were drenched but the reward at the end was spectacular when we hiked through many of the rain forests to see trees which were between 1000-2000 years old ....but I digress for now.

Of the 18 days there the first 8 days were a Back Roads Hiking Tour of the South Island. I must admit that my wife and I have never done a Back Roads Hiking Tour unlike the other 8 of us and I had some degree of concern as to my abilities as I have undergone bilateral knee replacement 4 1/2 years ago. Having said that I have no problems walking long distances or climbing gentle inclines as my wife and I walk every day where we live which is very hilly and challenging but it was the thought of climbing mountains and glaciers and through the rain forests which gave me some concern. My wife and I trained daily for almost a year. It was all worth it

After a 12 1/2 plane flight on Feb 6 we arrived in Auckland on Feb 8 and quickly had to make a connecting flight to Christchurch on the South Island where we spent the next 2 days before our Backroads Tour began

I liked Christchurch. It was an old quaint city built around the heritage of many distinguished private schools. We toured the schools and botanical gardens and on Feb 10 we were greeted in our hotel lobby by out tour guides Kalea and Martin. We struck gold with these two guides as they were so affable, bright and pleasant in every way to make our Tour one which we would never forget. They were successful in every way. We felt safe, well guided and looked after in every way.

Our first stop after a few hour ride was at Albert's Pass and Castle Hill followed by Canterbury. This was our first hike up Castle Hill. The views were spectacular.We weregild that the Dalai Lama once visited Castle Hill and was so overwhelmed that he said it was the spiritual center of the universe.

The climb was fun and great exercise.

I include below photos of everyone at our first dinner followed by photos of Castle Hill and Canterbury. This was a private tour as everyone knew each other and 8 of the 10 of us were together in Russia and Italy.

I have countless photos of the trip and plan on breaking them up according to where we were each day.
 
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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#10
After that Hike we arrived at our first Wilderness Lodge in Canterbury where sheep farming was huge
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
5,094
734
238
Greater Boston
#12
Im finding that many of the photos can't be inserted as their files are too large
Beautiful report, Steve!

I always compress files: Duplicate file > save as > Jpeg > resolution: least (or until file is at or below 1K)

Then the images still remain super sharp.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#13
Im going to pause for a bit to enlarge the capacity of the picture file size as mine all seem to be too large, so give me a while to figure this out
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#17
Arthur's Pass National Park

Scaled our first mountain. View of glacier and glacial lakes IMG_7548.jpeg
 
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