Queensland Term Abroad
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Kakahu Bush I
Kakahu Bush We started our trip in an out-of-the-way area called Kakahu Bush. Its pastoral look hides a tumultuous geological history that encapsulates much of New Zealand's geology. Leaf fossils can be common there as well. We collected and analyzed the leaves to make predictions about the ancient climate.
Kakahu Bush II
"Farmyard" and Fossils I had been been worrying how our group would react to the Holiday Park we were booked into The Farmyard. Turns out it had a lot to offer, including a petting zoo, campfire, and donkey rides. A number of people, myself included, experimented with donkey riding. My bruises faded after a couple of days. I'm not sure about everyone else's.
Mount Cook & Hooker Glacier
Mt Cook Village The drive from Geraldine to Mt Cook was spectacular; the skies cleared and the mountains shone. A hike up the Hooker valley, over two suspension bridges and past magnificent views, brought us to the terminal lake at the end of the Hooker glacier.
Tasman Valley This was a beautiful, 12 to 14 kilometer hike up the Tasman glacier's lateral moraine. The scale here is deceptive; over and over we found ourselves stunned when we recognized miniature people in a gigantic landscape. It's also a good place to get a wicked sunburn.
24 & 25 Nov
Haast We drove from Mt Cook to Haast Beach via Haast Pass, tracking the shift from alpine vegetation to rainforest. Along the west coast we focused on the major processes responsible for the landscape: glaciation and tectonic compression. We also tracked down some penguins!
Franz Joseph Glacier
26 & 27 Nov
Franz Joseph Glacier Ship Creek forest walk is like visiting the "Walking with Dinosaurs" set. Franz Joseph Glacier presents a completely different landscape - raw, rocky, (and slippery).
Panning for gold We stopped along the way to try our hands at panning for gold. We had a little luck, although we met a professional panner there who put our attempts to shame.
Arthur's Pass and Limestone Bluffs
Arthur's Pass Spent the night in the tiny village of Arthur's Pass, located, where else, in Arthur's Pass. Next morning we hiked up Devil's Punchbowl Falls and then lunched near spectacular limestone outcrops.
Tamaki Maori Village
Tamaki Maori Village After flying from Christchurch to Auckland and then driving to Rotorua, we embarked on an evening of Maori culture. This included a spectacular traditional greeting ceremony, a concert, and a Hangi feast. A Hangi dinner is cooked in baskets over hot rocks. The result was, by unanimous acclimation, delicious.
White Island I
White Island Day trip to New Zealand's most active volcano. White Island lies an hour's boat ride to the north of Whakatani, a fishing community located on the north shore of the North Island. The volcano's active, but gentle enough (at the moment) to allow visits!
White Island II
White Island Tour through White Island's crater, including crater lake, sulfur deposits, noxious gases, and more!. We had a truly spectacular day; the guides told us it was as calm as it ever gets.
Rotorua Geothermal Fields
Geothermal Fields The city of Rotorua lies on the edge of a volcanic caldera. Groundwater interacting with magma below creates a variety of geothermal features, including geysers, mudpots, acid pools, and occasionally, phreatic (steam) eruptions right downtown. Lots of Hydrogen Sulfide in the air can make the area a bit, well, stinky, but most people just took it in stride.
Rotorua to Tongariro
Kuirau Park, Wairaki, and Taupo This was a travel day and included visits to Kuirau Park in downtown Rotorua, a borefield capturing underground steam for power generation, rhyolite boulders on the Lake Taupo shore, and arrival at Tongariro National Park.
Ruapehu Crater Climb
Crater Lake One half our group, led by the affable and unstoppable volcanologist Peter Otway, climbed to Ruapehu's rim to peek in at the crater lake. The first part's easy - the Whakapapa Ski Field's chair lifts cover the ground quickly. But from there up, it's a slog through blinding snow. The clouds cleared for a moment exposing the lake in all its glory.
Tongariro Crossing I
Tongariro Crossing We split the group into two this day; half climbed Mt. Ruapehu to peek in at the crater lake and half walked the Tongariro Crossing, often called New Zealand's best one-day hike. I think those of us on the hike would agree. It's a spectacular hike through alpine valleys and rugged, volcanic peaks. Take this virtual hike with us!
Tongariro Crossing II
Tongariro Crossing This page chronicles the tramp from the top of the Devil's Staircase (the steepest portion of the hike), across South Crater, up the rim next to Red Crater, the most active vent on the main trail, and over the crest of the hike down toward the Emerald Lakes.
Tongariro Crossing III
Tongariro Crossing These pictures continue the virtual hike, picking up at the top of the ridge out across Tongariro's central crater with views toward Blue Lake, the Emerald Lakes, North Crater, and some magnificent lava flows. A few more images show the view back toward Red Crater from farther along the trail, as well as pictures of some of us.
Tongariro Crossing IV
Tongariro Crossing This final page of the virtual hike starts by Blue lake and includes views onward out toward the north and Lake Taupo, the trail along the outer flanks of North Crater, some thermal vents, a stop at Ketetahi Hut (including a welcome pit toilet), and the stream rushing down to the end of the trail.
Lahars and the Desert Road
Lahar dangers and the Desert Road On the last day, Peter Otway took some of us on a trip around Tongariro National Park. Peter was a wonderful host and a big asset to our time at Tongariro. Many thanks to him for sharing his expertise and good humor.