072 / H2wOooow
072 / H2WOOOOW
“I love Water” - No, this is not an illusionary, self-motivational statement an alcoholic whispers to himself while he desperately gazes through the Budweiser mirror in the first bar he visits after rehab.
“I love Water” - Nor is this is not a narcissistic claim of Belgian traveler who got used to people who mispronounce his first name.
“I love Water” - These three words summarize best my visit to New Zealand… And I’m not discriminating. I love it liquid, I love it icy, and I love it when it’s merely clouds. I love it blue like my little nephew’s eyes, I love it mysteriously black and I love it eye burning white. I love it hot in steamy pools and cold in my face while crossing a musical mountain river. New Zealand naturally masters the art of crafting and showing water in its best and most complete features.
On the West Coast of the South Island, I participated in a daylong trek over and through a centuries old glacier, mighty Franz Joseph. Once our crampons tightly wrapped to our waterproof boots, we explored 60m deep crevasses, dug stairs over its ever-changing ice mountains, we discovered a newly formed ice cave… I had several moments where I had to catch my breath, not exactly knowing if it was because of the enduring effort of climbing or because of the stunning scenery that surrounds you everywhere.
When a couple of days later, we drove further south, we took a sidewalk to visit the notorious mirror lakes. The water is so still, and the bottom so dark, that it reflects perfectly the sky. This event only reaches full impact when the rebellious ducks on the lake don’t move, when there are few clouds and when the photographer is skilled. When these three conditions meet, a picture perfect picture is born. But since I’m not a picture perfect photographer (I can blame some clouds, but not the ducks), I toke an almost perfect picture of the picture perfect picture that was for sale.
After a brief stop in Queenstown, I took off to Te Anau, to walk one of the Great Walks (cfr. Hong Kong post). The Kepler Track is a 65km, three day hike into NZ’s Southern Alps. To be in line with the country theme, a vicious avalanche (water…) blocked the track halfway, so I could only made a roundtrip to the first base, with an overnight stay in Luxmore hut. The walk was amazing, the view from the top of Mt Luxmore stunning, and my adjectives I use more and more American (heeeelp... I'll leave this as proof of a profound jetlag ;-))
One of the highlights of the whole down-under episode was the visit of Milford Sound, a full blown fjord in NZ biggest National Park. The place looks unreal, with threatening black waters out of which 1000m high granite monolites rise like extraterrestrial submarines. Waterfalls in all shapes and sizes come down from whatever you lay your eyes upon. This time, even the picture perfect postcard pictures can’t show the majesty and vastness of the place (so I didn’t bother to break copyright laws).
NZ pulled one last wet trick out of its hat with the name of Lake Tekapo. Its water is more Turquoise than on the Maldives, Whitsunday Islands and Blankenberge combined. The secret is a special kind of rock on the bottom of the lake (If I a millionaire one day, I want that rock on the bottom of my W-shaped pool ;-)).
Now I’m gearing up for the Latin American leg of my trip starting with my Spanish auto-study course, but still NZ-style!
I like this country where even the cattle looks like gentle snowflakes, sprinkled around lovely on lush green lands.
The only mystery that remains is that one of the Kiwi, NZ’s indigenous bird and symbol of the country. Veni, Ni Vici, So Ni Believci…