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Conner's Big Adventure 2017

New Zealand - South Island Part 4

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 16 April 2017 | Views [569]

Devil's Punchbowl

Devil's Punchbowl

NATURAL WONDERS

New Zealand is so full of beautiful places, it truly is as incredible as it seems. Also full of hedges. Not sure what that’s about, but the entire island is covered in hedges. And I don’t mean cute ornamental lawn hedges. In NZ, everything is separated by hedges. When we were coming in to land in Christchurch I was looking out the airplane window thinking “That’s funny, it looks like Iowa fields with the colored squares, but these all have borders?”. Well they actually do. Almost every field on the entire island is surrounded by 10-30 foot tall hedges made not of bushes, but of full size trees that have been shaped into solid hedges by enormous pieces of equipment that look like tractors with overgrown chain saw arms. Tall enough that some of them have notches chopped into them to let the power lines through. It was odd, but pleasant :-). On an island roughly two thirds the size of California there are so many micro-climates we felt like we were being transported every 200km. From the flat and relatively dry plains around Christchurch, to the lush and green West side, to the absurdly hilly city of Dunedin (think San Francisco, but tighter roads), to the glaciers of Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park. And all of it as pristine as if it were protected wildland (which much of it is of course). Woodend Beach north of Christchurch was our favorite beach. It was nicely quiet with not many people, soft sand, and gentle surf. Wildlife definitely won further south on and around the Otago peninsula. In Oamaru we got to watch almost 100 tiny Little Blue Penguins come back to the beach after a day of fishing which was very cool to see. We saw tons of seals and birds, including cormorants, as we drove around the peninsula and almost tripped on a seal at Victory Beach. They are sneaky little fellas and they half bury themselves in the sand, so we didn’t see this one until he flipped a bit more sand on top of himself about 15 feet in front of us! We were able to get very close to some of the seals as they were napping which Conner loved :-). The West end of the island was yet another beautiful wonder. So wet and green!! It was a lush and sweet smelling paradise of its own, with the bugs to prove it. We seriously got eaten alive over there, but hey, bug bites wear off. Eventually. For those brave enough to drive through Arthurs Pass it is well worth it. Just make sure you have good brakes before you head out…. Arthurs Pass was an amazing drive once I was able to ignore the perilous nature of the roads (and the giant double lorries playing Gran Tourismo). NZ roads are very narrow, just a heads up. In the middle of the pass is a place called “Devil’s Punchbowl”. A stunning waterfall you can hike out to in about 20-40 minutes depending on how far you choose to go. We went all the way to the base of the falls and swam underneath the waterfall. Ok, so actually we just shivered in as far as we could stand before running back out to dry off, but it was totally one of my bucket list items, so I had to do it! And Gregg had to do it because I did. Conner got a pass on account of his elevated level of intelligence. Everywhere we went was clean and beautiful and spectacular. New Zealand definitely takes care of itself well :-).

Tags: devils punchbowl, natural wonders, penguins, seals

 

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