From Australia we flew into Christchurch, New Zealand, considered to be “the most English city outside of England”. The 2010 earthquake has left this beautiful city devastated. As with most news a world away, we had no concept of the true loss this “Garden City” had sustained that terrible night. Beautiful, ancient churches are gone forever. Where a thriving metropolis once stood, only empty lots await cleanup and rebuilding….perhaps never to happen. We, in fact, stayed in one of the ONLY hotels rebuilt in what was downtown. It is hard to imagine how rebuilding can ever be done, let alone quickly. But these people are resilient and it is our true hope that they will somehow find the strength, wisdom and resources to bring this beautiful place back to full, functional life.
Driving through stunning Lindis pass, we made our way to New Zealand’s most famous Alpinesque city and one of its prettiest town, Queenstown, which is nestled beside the mysterious Lake Wakaptipu in the Southern Lakes district.
The drive via Homer Tunnel, into the impressive Hollyford Valley, was beautiful.
But the absolute highlight of our entire New Zealand trip was Milford Sound. It was a true venture into “Middle Earth”, with it’s primeval, mystical landscapes where the powerful trilogy inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien was filmed. The vast panoramas of unspoiled wilderness and awesome grandeur of New Zealand’s South Island provided the ideal setting to bring these beloved adventures to life. There are no movie sets left, just the stunning, pristine vistas that filled the frames.
Traveling in New Zealand is a challenge. Roads are scarce and because their earth has so much silt, road beds are constantly moving. It can take many hours and miles to reach a destination that is actually only a mile or so, as the crow flies. But the landscapes are stunning each kilometer of any direction you venture.
We ended our time in New Zealand by traveling across the Southern Alps, marveling at the snowcapped peaks and beautiful river gorges as we wound our way past waterfalls and rugged mountain scenery. Within only miles of each other, we visited the Franz Josef Glacier and dipped our toes into the beautiful Tasman Sea. May we be blessed to visit NZ again soon.