New Zealand

Mt. Aspiring

Jeff & Carolyn at Kea Basin

Mt. Cook


On the other hand, the Kiwi birds deserve to be protected.  In addition to being endangered, the national bird is flightless and nocturnal.  Therefore, it is hard to find one.  I went to a sanctuary to learn more about them and to see a few in a dark setting.  For those who know about my annual kiwi (fruit) sacrifice for snow, long story, we might need to think of something new for the snow gods... hummmnnnn.

South of Carter's Beach we found a seal colony where the newborns were one to two weeks old.  Mother Nature gave them a natural playpen made of rock and they ran around chasing each other and playing king of the rock.  Their moms were busy with the usual routine of sunbathing.

Jeff took me on one unforgettable tramp through tall, thick, ankle twisting grass and boot sucking mud.  After about an hour of this, I look up and notice the trail going one way and Jeff, knee high in a stream, going the other.  I yelled out to see what he was thinking.  At this point, Carolyn jumped in, so I reluctantly crossed as well.  Jeff gave this really calm, as he always is, explanation of what we were doing.  I reminded him he's traveling with two women and he needs to explain these things before they happen, so he doesn't lose part of his behind.  After three hours we finally got across the swamp and several streams, including a group side-by-side crossing, to the base of the mountain.  Jeff said that it should be easy now that we are starting to climb.  I gave him a hard time and said, "What, just cross five waterfalls and a few mud slides and we're there"?  Too funny.  Our destination, Kea
Basin no Keas to be found was a cool spot where we bivyed under huge rocks.  We had a great view of the valley.  That night, we ran around in booties made of plastic bags, which can be quite slippery.  I think I prefer to keep my boots dry.

Cook the tallest mountain in New Zealand is a very scenic area, you can see the peak for miles as you drive in on the main road.  You pass by a huge glistening glacier lake on the way into the valley.  We did a couple of great hikes.  I stayed at the Mt. Cook YHA, which is a cabin equipped with a sauna and movie room for $10 USD per night.  I was in heaven, until someone went through my eight bunk dorm room and stole a purse, money out of a money belt and my day-pack.  Thank goodness I didn't lose money, credit cards, airline tickets, my passport, exposed film or anything sentimental.  It's frustrating, but it happens all over the world.  My friend has a bumper sticker, "Mean people suck"!  That sums it up.

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