INTERMISSION: SOUTH WITH JOEL MCDOWELL - BONUS PHOTO JOURNEY
On the second half of this intermission, Joel & Nakita take us on a photo journey through the south & share the adventure. Enjoy the journey through the words of Nakita & eyes of Joel:
As I flew into Christchurch, the Southern Alps loom through the early morning fog that still lingered at the base.
Joel has been on the road for the past 3 days and has landed in Christchurch in good time. After a quick stop to buy some supplies we head straight for the McKenzie Basin and most of the day was spent driving to our camp spot for the night.
We test the Ford's capabilities at our first river crossing, and we’re not disappointed. The kitted out Ranger is proving to be extremely capable of getting us to where we need to be.
We set up camp at Godley Valley, get our fire going, and do a few test shots. The chill of the night starts to move in and as always I’m the first to jump into my sleeping bag and wrap up for the cold that’s quickly setting in.
The clear night sky and snow capped mountains serves as a reminder that we are no longer in Auckland. A chilly frost far below zero degrees starts to settle in and Joel soon joins me in the tent.
Joel and I are both woken early as temperatures start to drop just before sunrise. It’s reaching blue hour and the cold has moved to set an unshakeable chill in our bones.
I dread the feeling of a full bladder as I’m well aware the outside temperature is sitting at a uncomfortable -3 degrees. As I muster up the courage to wiggle out my sleeping bag and unzip my last defence against the cold, I can already hear Joel shuffling around outside as he prepares coffees.
A good portion of the morning is spent wiping ice off the tent. We slowly pack up and get going southbound towards Tekapo.
The next few days are spent driving through Central Otago. Another quick stop at the local Four Square for dinner supplies and some hot chocolate before we park up at Te Anau Lake to cook dinner.
As I prepare our dinner I watch Joel rush around trying to capture the beautiful sight around us. The last light of the day blankets the mountain tops in warm yellow with soft blues and pinks reflecting off the snow covered ranges. We sit sipping on our hot chocolates while blue hour comes to an end, throwing us into darkness. As we sit and listen to the soft hum of nature around us, a feeling of peacefulness falls over us. It's moments like these are what the trip is all about.
But this moment is short lived as we quickly repack the car and start making the 2 hour drive from Te Anau to Milford. We’ve decided last minute to head out towards Milford as it’s rumoured to have had good weather the last couple of days with a few more forecasted. A quick look at the weather report is all we need, it’s predicted to start raining again in the next day or so and we wont be wasting any time to catch Milford on a sunny day.
It's 9pm and already -2 degrees by the time we find a place to unfold camp. Once again we’ve set ourselves up right under the snow covered mountains, tucked away under a small grove of trees to provide us some cover from the harsh chill and frost that's settling in fast.
At 6am the next morning my foot crunches into the thick layer of frost that's built up overnight as I step down from the ladder. It's an early start to get to Mitre Peak before sunrise where Joel is hoping to get some shots while we have good weather. A few stops along the way and a quick coffee we cant resist, we find ourselves in Milford's town centre just after 7am, leaving us with enough time to explore around a bit on foot.
As predicted Milford put on a show, with beautiful clear skies for the day. After shooting Mitre Peak we head towards the start of the Marian Lake trek. Doing this hike has been on Joel's bucket list for over a year so missing it wasn’t an option. The 3 hour return trek was definitely a challenge as we hadn’t really prepared ourselves to do it, but it was well worth it. We stayed up by the lake as the sun set, watching the mountain's reflection on the lake surface.
We head back towards Queenstown at around 7pm. The weather is predicted to bring rain to Milford again in the morning. For a place that rains 200+ days a year on average, we felt blessed to have experienced the beautiful and breathtaking Milford on a rare bluebird day.
We spent the last few days just enjoying the time away, slowly driving back towards Christchurch where I was flying out. Both Joel and I were feeling the effects from living on the road in our roof tent for so long.
We decided to spend our last day doing something fun and found ourselves on round hill ski field for the day. The trip opened my eyes to the true beauty of winter in the South Island.
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