Sunday, November 30, 2014

What a view!!

Greetings from Queenstown!! Our accommodations for the next three nights is across the lake from one of the mountains that was a filming site for LotR!! So beautiful.

A few shots from our day so far...

We left our lodge at Lake Moeraki this morning, but we managed to squeeze in one more nature walk before we left. It was a really gorgeous, clear day, and the lake was amazingly glassy.

We drove from Lake Moeraki to Queenstown, and stopped at some pretty spots along the way. New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful country. We are so lucky to have been able to see so much of it together.

Meanwhile, back in Bellevue...

Just wanted to take a moment to our family and friends who are taking care of Noe while we are away. My parents stayed with her for a few days, and John and Gina, and Marina have all taken shifts of checking in on her for us.

Now, I'm the first to admit that our little Noe isn't the friendliest of kitties when it comes to anyone except for her Mama or Daddy. But, I do know that we all (Noe included!) appreciate all of your help, and giving us peace of mind while we're away.

Here are a few of my favorite photos of Noe that have been sent to us while we've been away.

Thanks again, Mom, Dad, Marina, John and Gina!! We are grateful for Noe's support group!!! (And Paula and Reeves, too, who are always available for back up!) xo

Penguin Photos!!

The Fiordland Crested Penguin is the second rarest penguin the the world. There are only about 3,000 pair of these penguins left (did you know that penguin are counted in pairs?).

We were so lucky to have seen nine of them today: 3 walking into the sea when we first arrived, another hopping down from the nesting area, a juvenile joining him in the opening of a cave, watched the first walk along the beach them swim out to sea, saw another coming back from the sea a while later, then three more by the steam as we were leaving.

I've got strong WiFi again, and was finally able to compile some of the better photos that I took from our penguin walk on Saturday.

Dick emerges from the rain forest - looking for penguins

the amazing, secluded, hidden beach that our guide brought us to. We were the only people on it the entire time we were there. Just magical.

when we first arrived, we just saw three penguins waddling into the sea together. I'm not sure if you can see them in this photo or not. Hoping Dick got a better shot. Regardless, you get a sense at how pretty this beach was!

this little guy (an adult male) came hopping down the rocks from the nesting area soon after we arrived.

hopping on the rocks

he eventually hopped down the rocks and made his way to the entrance of a cave. He was soon joined by a 10-week old, juvenile

the adult male waddles his way down to the sea...

....almost there

We quietly walked around the corner of a large rock formation to see if we could find any other penguins on that side. We didn't find any others, but it led us to another spot of the beautiful beach.

plus, we saw a star fish and other sea life on the rocks.

as we made our way back to the original side of the beach, we spotted another adult male (perhaps the same one?) coming back in from the sea....

...and waddling back up the beach...

...and back up onto the rocks.

another view of the little guy on the rocks

as we made our way back from the beach back to the trail, we spotted these three little guys by the stream!

So, in all, we saw nine penguins (assuming they were all different when they went into and out of the sea). Pretty lucky, considering there are so few of these guys left in the World.

Our wild trek to find the penguins!!

We set out around 9:30 this morning on the Robinson Crusoe Beach and Tawaki Penguin Discovery Walk!!

Our lodge's description of the walk:
"We drive a short distance south from the lodge and walk a hidden trail beneath ancient rimu, silver beech and kahikatea trees to a magnificent wild beach where from June to December up to 30 pairs of Tawaki (Fiordland Crested Penguins) nest in the forest behind the beach. On our 15 minute walk to the beach the forest abounds in primeval tree ferns, kidney ferns spleenworts, filmy fern and many kinds of mosses and lichens....

Note the track to the beach crossed a small stream four times."

Note: Trina does not love nature hikes. As much as I enjoy walking, I much prefer urban hikes over nature walks.

However, we discovered that given the right shoes (ie: rubber boots!) it turns out I can actually have a great time walking around in slushy mud, over rocks, through fern trees, and especially crossing streams!! Who knew!!

Three Little Pigs

We stumbled on these three little piggies on our way back from our beach walk. They were cute, and pretty small (maybe about 24" long).

I'm pretty sure one was going to the market, and another stayed home, and the third....? :)

Monro Beach Hike

We checked in at our fabulous wilderness lodge at Lake Moreraki, and immediately set out on a 5-6 mile hike to the Monro Beach nearby. It was a nice and easy walk through the South Westland rainforest (again, very Jurassic Park) to a beautiful coastline. Unfortunately, we didn't see any penguins when we arrived, and more unfortunate, we did encounter many sand flies.

Bruce Bay

The drive south of the Fox Glacier brought us out to the sea coast at Bruce Bay. It was a great stop to see the white quartz beach pebbles.

Fox Glacier

We drove from Hokitika down to Lake Moeraki along the Western coast. Along the way, we drive through two glacier villages: Franz Josef and Fox. We were hoping to catch a short helicopter ride out to one of them, but alas, the weather gods were not with us today. Instead, we took a short hike out for a closer look at the Fox Glacier terminal face. Still pretty cool. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sneak Peak of the Fiordland Crested Penguins!!

We embarked on a private tour to a secluded beach to see the very rare Fiordland Crested Penguin this morning.

Gorgeous day, amazing beach, and we spotted nine penguins!!! I'll post more later when I have a stronger WiFi signal.

I've put all of the photos up here. :)