Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 6 in New Zealand - Milford Sound

Mitre Peak at Milford Sound in New Zealand

On day 6 we drove from Queenstown to Milford Sound. We took a 15 km boat ride down the fjord to the Tasman Sea and back.

It is a pretty special place and if you ever go to New Zealand it should be on your list of places to go. To quote Wikipedia, "It has been judged the world's top travel destination in an international survey (the 2008 Travelers' Choice Destinations Awards by TripAdvisor) and is acclaimed as New Zealand's most famous tourist destination. Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth Wonder of the World."

This is the boat we were on for our tour of the fjord. It has enclosed lower deck and an open upper deck.

It was not very crowded. This picture shows 75% of the passengers. Yep, only 4 of us. As the captain said, "Welcome to your private charter."

They had a bigger boat going out at the same time. I think they didn't put us on that boat because the narration was in Chinese. I imagine they burned more diesel than our fares would cover but we appreciated that Real Journeys made sure we enjoyed the trip.
Kayak on Milford Sound

There were a number of kayakers getting a closer view of the sights.
Seal climbing out of the water in Milford Sound in New Zealand

However, I doubt they got much closer to the seals than we did. Because it is a fjord formed by a glacier the sides are very steep and the boat can maneuver within a few feet of the rocks.
Group of seals resting on the rocks at Milford

They are juvenile males that have been kicked out of the colony by the dominate male. Eventually they will try to form their own colony.
Seals resting on rocks in Milford Sound

These might be the smarted ones. They are resting on the vegetation.

There were several groups down the fjord.

This is a fishing boat going after what they call crayfish. I think they are what are known as lobsters in the US.
Stirling Falls at Milford Sound in New Zealand

This was a really pretty scene. This is Stirling Falls. It is hard to get a sense of scale but this water fall is 495 feet high. The mountain on the other side of the fjord is over a mile high.

Here is a shot of the other tour boat moving up close to the falls. This may help give you a sense of scale.

It is said that if you are touched by the mist from the falls you will appear 10 years younger. I think maybe it worked on me but it apparently is only effective 50% of the time.
Mitre Peak at Milford Sound, New Zealand

I think this is Mitre Peak on the other side of the fjord from the falls. You can't quite see the top but it is 5,551 ft high.
Tom and Margot Savage at Lady Bowen Falls on Milford Sound in New Zealand

See what I mean about the effect of the mist?
Captain Blake on the M.V. Sinbad on Milford Sound

Here is a picture of the captain, Blake. It is a pretty new, modern ship.

The captain pointed out that since the Milford Sound was formed by a glacier it is actually a fjord. New Zealand tried to correct this mistake by calling the entire are Fiordland but they compounded the mistake by misspelling it.

This is a picture of the Hollyford River. We stopped on the way back to look around.

This entire area is quite remote. Milford Sound wasn't readily accessible by land until the 1.2 km Homer tunnel and a road were completed in 1954.

I was experimenting with partial black and white conversion in this picture.
Mirror Lake in Eglinton Valley in New Zealand

The long drive (74 miles) from the nearest town of Te Anau to the Milford sound is really pretty and is part of the experience.

This is Mirror Lake.
Eglinton Valley between Te Anau and Milford Sound in New Zealand

The road goes through Eglinton Valley for several miles.

Here some tourists stop to take pictures in a unique setting.

I don't know the name of this bird but he was making a lot of noise.

Here is another of the Keas. In this picture you can observe their signature behavior - biting of the black plastic on automobiles  Apparently they can cause a lot of damage.

I think this was a bus load of Japanese tourists that happened to be there.

The birds have bright red under their wings.

Here he poses for a portrait. I see that he is banded. I wonder if he is on the park payroll. He was certainly entertaining a lot of visitors.

Here some of the tourists drink the water right out of the stream. It is a very pristine environment.
Redcliff Cafe in Te Anau in New Zealand

This is the restaurant were we had dinner in Te Anau on the advice of the boat captain. It was very good. I had the venison and Margot had the lamb.

This a video of the Stirling Falls that Margot shot.

This is a slow motion video of the Kea in flight.

China National Art Museum

The lobby of the China National Museum of Art

Here is a break from the New Zealand pictures.

It was a nice day in Beijing on Saturday so we took a walk down to the National Museum of Art. This is the main lobby.

This is the main entrance to the museum.

It is about a mile up the street from our apartment.

There is very little English description of the pieces. I'm not sure what this represents but I'm guessing in has something to do with the Japanese occupation of China before and during World War II.
Picture in the China National Museum of Art showing and engineer using a slide rule

This one was in a hall that seemed to be chronicling the rise of China industrial capability It was sort of an homage to the workers who made it possible.

You see the occasional nude sprinkled it.

Margot liked this one. It is a study in perspective, I guess. As one might view the scene when laying on your back looking up through the branches into the sky.

This is a large hall with a lot of classical Chinese painting.

Here Margot contemplates one of them while I rest on the bench.

The entire 3rd floor was devoted to calligraphy.

I'm sure there were themes in the various rooms but I have no idea what they were.

Couplets seem very popular.

I sort of liked the colors in this one.

There was a calligraphers desk on display.

Here are the tools of the trade.

Not sure what the significance of this one is but Margot liked it as well.

We walked back through some hutongs. This one continued down the narrow passageway but we turned right.

This looks like a hotpot restaurant. I assume that the stock is heated in these devices. That is a tub of coal bricks below the table.

click to enlarge.
Elderly skater on the plaza and Wangfujing Catholic Church

There were a lot of people at the plaza in front of the Wangfujing Catholic Church. This guy was enjoying skating. Looked sort of like tai chi on skates. He was having a good time and was reasonably graceful. I'd love to know how old he is but whatever it is - more power to him.

I don't think I have seen one of these before. It is big wheel with small foot boards on either side. You push your self along like a skate board.

There were a group of young men sort of break dancing, also.

Here is a shot of the church. If a post back in October indicated that the church is not used, I stand corrected. There are both Chinese and English services on late Saturday afternoon and Sunday, I presume.

Not sure why I included this other that you don't see a bus jam very often. This is in front of the Apple store. There must have been 15 buses here and around the corner.

Spring festival decorations in the mall.

I doubt anyone other than me cares at all, but I did finally big up another state - Delaware. Only Wyoming and North Dakota are unrepresented among blog readers. See the flag counter boxes for details.

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Zealand - Arrowtown and the Gold Rush

Living huts at Chinese settlement in Arrowtown, New Zealand

I've sort of lost track but one day we drove to Arrowtown which is only 20 or so km from Queenstown. This is an old gold rush town turned tourism spot.
House at Chinese settlement in Arrowtown, New Zealand

The gold rush was in 1862. It attracted people from all over the world. Arrowtown was home to a large number of Chinese miners who came, in many cases, out of desperation to improve on a tough life in China. They weren't particularly well received in New Zealand. There was a large settlement of Chinese in Arrowtown. These first two pictures are of rebuilt houses that are typical of the their housing.
Ah Lum's store at Chinese settlement in Arrowtown, New Zealand

This is the Chinese general store that operated for many years.

To learn more click on this link and scroll down.  Chinese in New Zealand

There is a  nice museum in Arrowtown that chronicles late 19th and early 20th century life in the area.
Museum at Arrowtown, New Zealand

Margot thought the sewing machine on the left in the background is the same model as the one she acquired from the Pope Home in Ottawa, IL.

A blacksmith display.

This is a gold scale used by the bank to weigh the gold brought in by the miners.

The town is pretty small - there are just a couple of streets in the commercial area. This is a small park on the main street.