Franz Josef Glacier
The glaciers have retreated rapidly in recent years. If you doubt
global warming, take a careful look below.
This glacier was named after the venerable emperor of Austria by one
of his countrymen, who discovered it.
We took a helicopter ride to the top of the glaciers, and this is Franz
Josef Glacier from the top. The extent of melting is even
more dramatic here. The west coast and the Tasman Sea are in
This is another glacier seen from the top. The peaks of the Southern
Alps are in the background.
The highest peak in the Southern Alps, about 2 miles high.
Road to Queenstown
The drive from Christchurch to Queenstown goes through vast wilderness,
but the scenery is extraordinary.
Town of Tarras (pop. 40)
It's a relief to find a town, no matter how small. Tarras has about
40 people, just enough to provide a post office, a general store,
a petrol station, a restaurant, and of course public toilets.
Queenstown is a mecca for the outdoor sporting enthusiast. It is
a place of extraordinary beauty. The Remarkable Mountains overlook
Wakatipu in the background. Ski fields, water sports, parasailing,
and a bunji jumping bridge await thrill-seekers from many nations.
The Shotover River Jetboat ride is one of those thrills (we opted out of
Dart River jetboat
We took the Dart River jetboat instead, which goes far into the Wilderness.
The Dart River wilderness
is amazingly beautiful and untouched.
Lake Wakatipu - SS Earnslaw
Back in Queenstown, we took the SS Earnslaw cruise, which included a piano
bar and singalong, 1950's style!
Lake Wakatipu - parasailing
For the more adventurous, parasailing continues throughout the winter (it's
about 40 degrees Fahrenheit up there!).
Road to the ski fields
The drive to the ski fields goes upward at a steep climb, and along "unsealed"
roads. New Zealand skiing relies completely on natural snow,
and is about the best in the world.
Hot springs await weary skiers at the end of the day.
Agriculture is the main industry in New Zealand. Tourism is also
an important part of the economy, as are fishing and semiprecious stones.
Here, cows take the right of way to get to the pasture on the other
side of the road.
Sheep are everywhere...
And new lambs arrive in the spring (August)
Lambs had just been born when we were there.
Sports/recreation - Rugby rules, but cricket, soccer,
and America's cup sailing also help cover the sports pages.
Hiking in the wilderness is a popular pastime
Education - all schools are neighborhood schools
(no busing), as are universities (most students commute
from home). Curriculum includes study of Maori culture.
Views of America - An extraordinary and great nation,but
also a violent/gun-oriented culture, and too often
a bully on the world stage
Vocabulary - Here are some interesting words you
might have thought you understood: nappies, bonnet, boot,
ookie, hob, dag, tasty, netball, primary entrant, batch, cheers!