Milford Sound turned out to be one of the most amazing places we’ve been to in New Zealand but as always, we had to move on. We made our way back up through Queenstown and then on to Wanaka, our new favorite town. So we stayed for a bit. We climbed a bit more in Wanaka before heading out again.
Working a route at the Little Big Wall, Wanaka
Our first stop after Wanaka was Aoraki/Mt Cook, the highest summit in New Zealand at 3,754 meters. Unfortunately, we had rain all day so never actually set eyes on the summit, too many clouds, but we did get some good shots in and around Mt Cook.
View on the way into Mt Cook
The historic Hermitage Hotel at Mt Cook is home to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center and Museum so this turned out to be our highlight. It was definitely cool to see such a tribute to this legendary Kiwi!
Statue of Sir Edmund in front of the Hermitage
Since the weather was so bad we moved right on and stopped in Lake Tekapo for a quick visit to the old stone Church of the Good Shepard.
Church of The Good Shepard, Lake Tekapo
There was also a bronze statue just next to the church paying tribute to the sheep dogs for all their hard work and contribution to the farming industry back in the day!
Sheep dog statue!
The rain finally called it quits on our way out of Lake Tekapo, so we were able to capture a few good shots from the road side.
Perfect shot of this area, one of the canals, Lake Tekapo, and the surrounding mountains
Wildflowers and Lake Tekapo
Pulled over for this shot while driving past Lake Pukaki
Just outside of Christchurch is a place called Castle Hill which is a field of boulders and rock walls. It’s mainly a tourist attraction but also home to some of the best bouldering in New Zealand. Jamie and I are not big into bouldering but thought it would be a cool stop for a circuit workout on the boulder problems and see for ourselves what everyone has been talking about. Here are a bunch of shots form Castle Hill.
Castle Hill from a distance
Amazing boulder field, Castle Hill
Jamie working some boulder problems
Hiking through Castle Hill
We finally made it to Christchurch, our last stop in New Zealand. We checked into a swanky little caravan park on the east side of the city for our last 3 nights in country. We spent those last days checking out the city, climbing and winding down our visit to NZ. Christchurch experienced quite a few serious earthquakes over the span of just a year between 2010 and 2011 which destroyed so much of the city center. Many of the streets are still closed down and the rebuilding effort is everywhere. We managed to drive through a bit of down town and saw the evidence of the worst natural disaster they’ve experienced since the 30′s.
Entering the central business district, Christchurch
Remnants of a building that had to be taken down
This building has cracks up the entire side of it, pretty scary
We made a day trip to the Banks Peninsula, south of Christchurch, to a town call Akaroa. This was another recommendation from Glen and Cherie. The drive there was impressive and the town was at one time a french settlement and the town retains some of that French charm. We had lunch on the wharf. It was a sleepy little town but worth the visit.
Views on the drive into Akaroa
Lunch at Bully Hayes, Akaroa
The pier, Akaroa
A shot of the Akaroa harbor on our way out
There is a large concentration of climbing available for the locals within the city limits or just outside so we checked out a few crags, the ones that were not destroyed by rock fall from the earthquakes.
Climbing cliffs at Christchurch
This is what is left of Castle Cliff which was pretty much destroyed by the earthquakes
We went to Cattlestop Crag first and it was COLD! Jamie ran a bunch of laps on a few classics and that was it, we headed out. Maybe it was the weather or maybe it was the crew of men working on the cliff next to us cleaning off all the loose rock by drilling it out. You would be in the middle of a route when all of the sudden you would hear the crash of all this rock falling down the mountain, all a result of the earthquakes, but a little bit intimidating : o
Men were working on this cliff right next to us cleaning rock
Wrapping up our climbing session when some friends showed up
We hoped to climb once more outside but settled instead for an indoor workout at a local climbing gym in Christchurch. We spent our last day cleaning out and turning in the van, having lunch out, and then settling into our hotel for the night. We’ve got an early flight to catch in the morning and a long journey to Thailand. New Zealand has been everything we hoped for and more. We will certainly return to this beautiful country one day but for now, we are on to the next chapter.