John & Anne Wiley

2017/07/31

Aloha

We slept perhaps three hours between us on that long NZ-HI flight, so when Honolulu lights appeared we got to watch.

061813 Honolulu Lights

061813 Honolulu Lights

We sleepily enjoyed our first day back in the U.S. despite a canceled flight from HNL to Maui, and our third phone failure including the expensive new one from Sydney. Yet our spirits soared when we finally did lift off, giving us yet another aerial look at Oahu and now familiar Waikiki, Molokai, Lanai, and even distant Hawaii.

162900 Waikiki

162900 Waikiki

Needless to say, we have quite a few pix of that crossing even though they’re from a phone (with at least a working camera) looking through an airliner window. One of the clearest pix in the set is this one on final approach to OGG at Kahului, Maui.

165752 Kahului

165752 Kahului

With our schedule for the day now completely random, we had the great good fortune to connect with sweet friend Paula. She too was exhausted, so after some warm conversation we turned in early for an especially delicious sleep. After a morning walk with more deep dialog we began the family phase of this epic journey. We met up with our daughter, husband and grand daughter at a traditional Hawaiian location.

120954 Ancient Ritual

120954 Ancient Ritual

Yes, that’s Costco. With so many family members about to arrive, we needed to get supplies. Our precious little one had acquired blisters on her feet so I carried her around the store to our mutual delight. Then we drove in two cars to the magnificent vacation home gifted to all of us by my amazing sister. It was her gift that had prompted our extension of the trip to include all the wonders of NZ & AU. So it was no surprise to see this rainbow over the house as we arrived.

165147 Rainbow Greeting

165147 Rainbow Greeting

Soon our bundle of delight joined us exploring while everyone else trickled in and her perfect parents continued setting up for the stay.

171430 Memories with Grammy

171430 Memories with Grammy

Much of our next day was taken up by my sudden intense sore throat. We were all terrified it was contagious, but in the end it may have been an extreme allergic reaction. I was well enough the next night to join the family for an authentic luau meal and performance.

194514 Luau

194514 Luau

Also performing were the kids, after having watched the show intently.

200548 Apprentice Dancers

200548 Apprentice Dancers

By the next morning I was feeling nearly normal, and once the pix from our last day of 2016 are ready to post here you can come along on our driving tour and join us celebrating an especially Happy New Year.

2017/07/29

High Lights

This trip of a lifetime to Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia brought countless highlights. Having finished our time in Queenstown, NZ we were headed toward the next peak experience: celebrating the New Year with my family back on Maui. Of course, for aviators like us another highlight would be the journey there.

141016 Into The Blue

141016 Into The Blue

Though forecasts said we’d see clouds on the short Auckland hop to catch our night flight to Maui, the airport looked like this. A few minutes after boarding we were looking through a blurry jet window back at Queenstown and all our new memories there.

141019 Queenstown Into Memory

141019 Queenstown Into Memory

Moments later we got this view of the area far across the other side of the lake, where we first spotted Queenstown from that small plane so long ago (a few days).

141021 Both Sides

141021 Both Sides

Soon after, we got a last look back at vanishing Queenstown now far at the end of the other arm of the massive lake.

144424 Looking Back

144424 Looking Back

Despite the gloomy forecast, Aoraki peeked out of the clouds gathering on our path to bid farewell.

150214 Mount Cook

150214 Aoraki (Mount Cook)

Also departing it seemed, were the dwindling glaciers flanking the peak.

150303 Glacier Remnants

150303 Glacier Remnants

Soon we crossed from South Island to North Island and were treated to a cloudless view of distant Ruapehu at the zoom limits of a cell camera through jet plexi.

154608 Ruapehu

154608 Ruapehu

Beneath that solid cloud deck Auckland was inviting in muted colors, with the bustling city tower barely visible in the far distance beyond a quiet cemetery.

160000 Muted Auckland

160000 Muted Auckland

Making our wait for the connecting flight a delight, we were joined by our new friend we’d shared that glorious Ardmore GA flight with. He’d made a special trip to see us off and chat about our hopes of him coming to the U.S.

175636 Hero John

175636 Hero John

So many wonderful people we’d met in our New Zealand travels, and John is an exemplar. He capped our last moments here, and before long we rode new wings into the night reaching toward the high lights of sparkling stars. Soon memories of our times in this enchanted land faded into the realm of dreams.

213548 Dream Trip

213548 Dream Trip

2017/07/27

Around Queenstown

With four days (two full days) to relax and explore the Queenstown area, we began our first full day there driving a few miles West along Lake Wakatipu. Here’s a scenery sample.

115335 Lakeshore Drive

115335 Lakeshore Drive

Back in town we walked the beach where a massive, boisterous, yet courteous crowd of mostly NZ teens & twenties had celebrated Christmas Eve. So courteous, they left quietly at 10pm after gathering up every trace of their loud party. Now the beach was mostly quiet tourists like us, taking in the spectacular scenery or boating from the beach.

2648 Beautiful Beach

2648 Beautiful Beach

Did you notice the gondola up to the peak, and the two paragliders in that pic? In contrast with yesterday’s two flights and driving, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch dockside where we continued soaking it all in, and watched this eel patrolling beneath our feet.

171103 Eel Patrol

171103 Eel Patrol

Soon we had ridden that gondola up for a look back down at the beach (bottom-right).

2682 Over Queenstown

2682 Over Queenstown

Then we hiked up the trail beyond, passing flowers where we glanced back on our way for a glimpse beyond.

2725 Trail Garland

2725 Trail Garland

Stretching our legs climbing through dark silent forest was soothing after the stimulating city and noisy gondola bustle. Looking across a ravine to the northwest, we felt deeply invited to hike on into the wild.

2743 Wilderness Invitation

2743 Wilderness Invitation

But yearning for more variety in our dwindling hours we hiked back down to explore the town and area more. The next and last day in this area included a scenic short drive North up Gorge Road to a peaceful moment at the spectacular Shotover River.

2873 Silent Shotover Gorge

2873 Silent Shotover Gorge

The silence was shattered when a roaring jetboat raced crazily past with a load of screaming thrill seekers.

2856 Noisy Shotover Gorge

2856 Noisy Shotover Gorge

The fun they were having as each boat briefly passed, punctuated the quiet between after their echoes faded up and down the turquoise river. Driving back through Queenstown to the airport, we paused to soak in sheep in tall grass beneath ancient carved stone yielding to time and vegetation. This was a nourishing way to cherish our last moments in New Zealand.

2929 Sheep Time

2929 Sheep Time

2017/07/05

On To Qtown

Where was I?

Oh yes, three months ago (!!) I shared pix from the last leg of our spectacular 2nd NZ South Island flight of Christmas Eve 2016. Here’s a last look, on final approach to Wanaka airport looking past the Rodeo Club and campground NNE to Lake Hāwea.

2596 Lk.Hāwea, NZWF Final

2596 Lk.Hāwea, NZWF Final

I mentioned in the April post that our next excitement for that amazing day was the drive from Wanaka to Queenstown.

192732 Over Hill

192732 Over Hill

Cardrona Valley road is beautiful, especially as we were winding down past the Crown Range toward Arrow Junction. The Kawarau River was shimmering into the distant Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu that we’d seen in the air from the other side 2 hours earlier.

193442 Magnificence Immunity

193442 Magnificence Immunity

Several times during our two flights that day and driving before, between and this one afterward, we noticed something. We’d developed temporary immunity to scenes that would normally stimulate our senses with such magnificent beauty. We didn’t even stop much during this drive, and only snapped pix like the above with cellphones! The view from our Queenstown hotel balcony did motivate me to grab the camera.

2607 Queenstown View

2607 Queenstown View

The whole panorama was of course glorious, so here’s another balcony shot across the lake.

2609 View Across Lake

2609 View Across Lake

After an especially romantic sunset meal down in the ground floor restaurant (of singularly expensive and disappointing cuisine), we set out to explore on foot.

215230 Beach Cafe

215230 Beach Cafe

There’s a lovely beach cafe, and despite dire warnings about no Christmas dining (hence the hotel restaurant), we found many other eateries open (most with a variety of great food). We also passed this monument to WWI with a view past the gathering crowd to the mountain top beyond.

215528 Service vs Self?

215528 Service vs Self?

2017/04/15

Peaks & Lakes

Many majestic views of lakes and peaks awaited on the last leg of the last GA flight of our NZ adventure. Strolling the serene ramp at TEU we had no idea that so much delight was minutes away. [Note: click here to read in sequence from the start of this “Over Under” Big Adventure]

2231 TEU to Mountains

2231 TEU to Mountains

Soon after takeoff we turned away from Lake Manapouri for a quick closer look at tiny Lake Henry and Te Anau on the shore of massive Lake Te Anau.

2256 Te Anau

2256 Te Anau

Climbing back toward Wanaka, we saw this silhouette of a person’s head facing left. It’s comical that amid so much spectacular beauty, this shape formed by the North end of South Mavora Lake stood out somehow.

2268 Cartoon Shape

2268 Cartoon Shape

Maybe the human spirit tends toward adaptation to beauty when overwhelmed by such sustained exposure to it. Still, this view along the Von River to Lake Wakatipu found us in silent enjoyment.

2288 Von River

2288 Von River

The rapids next to the lake are thrilling from the air, especially when they evoke the experience of whitewater sports down in that gorge.

2301 Rapids

2301 Rapids

As we continued out onto the bend in Lake Wakatipu, at the North end Glenorchy sheltered among the towering mountains.

2327 Distant Glenorchy

2327 Distant Glenorchy

Across the lake toward the East, colorful scenery continued the amazement that flooded our senses.

2341 Across the Bend

2341 Across the Bend

All along the lake as in every moment of every GA flight, our souls overflowed with the beauty of this land. Of course we have many more pix than can be shared, so how are these few chosen? Why choose this one of rapids among many along our mountainous route up Rees River and Invincible Creek and back East toward Wanaka?

2353 Inexplicable Rapids

2353 Inexplicable Rapids

As if the many stunning peaks like Mt. Aspiring we’d already visited weren’t enough, the grizzled heads of these peaks added to our overwhelm.

2362 Grizzled Peaks

2362 Grizzled Peaks

As always, the pix we share here aren’t just a small fraction of our total but also a tiny slice of the view we swam in. Here’s a larger one.

2387 Bigger Slice

2387 Bigger Slice

Now a few more pix and fewer of the words that pale and fail.

2412 More Peaks 1

2412 Peaks Aplenty 1

2431 Peaks Aplenty 2

2431 Peaks Aplenty 2

2442 Peaks Aplenty 3

2442 Peaks Aplenty 3

Like the U.S. and Canadian Rockies, each of the peaks in this vast expanse of mountains majesty kindles a deep emotional response in the human heart.

Another deep breath comes as we descend back into the green of New Zealand.

2545 Down Into Green

2545 Down Into Green

Even minutes from the end of this amazing flight, Glendhu Bay offered yet another stunning vista.

2571 Glendhu Bay

2571 Glendhu Bay

Continuing our descent across the South end of Lake Wanaka the shallows were reminiscent of our Bahamas flights.

2578 Colorful Shallows

2578 Colorful Shallows

But now Wanaka sprawled toward the airport where we’d begin the scenic drive to Queenstown for yet more memorable moments in this thrill-packed day.

2587 Wanaka Approach

2587 Wanaka Approach

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