The west coast

The west coast of the south island is rugged and beautiful.

We drove, in parts of three days, up the west coast of the south island.  Or those parts that are drivable, anyway, because the southwest corner (Fiordland) is roadless, and the northwest corner (Abel Tasman park) is remote with few roads. The southern alps loom close at hand on your right, and the hills drop steeply into the sea on your left.  At times the road was winding and twisting along these hillsides.  Rarely, we encountered a beach made of smooth rounded stones.  All in all, it was beautiful. Check out those photos and read on for more photos!

Coastline, as seen from Knight’s Point. South Island, New Zealand.
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Aoraki – Mount Cook

Aoraki is the highest peak in New Zealand, at 3754m.

Aoraki, the Maori name for Mt. Cook, is 3754m and the highest point in New Zealand  [location].  Aoraki means “cloud piercer”, and it was living up to its name as we arrived late Sunday afternoon to stay for a night in the valley.  “Spectacular” only begins to describe the drive in, and the mountains surrounding this gorgeous valley. Read on!

Windswept Aoraki’s triple summit at sunrise. New Zealand south island.
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New Zealand is how far south?

New Zealand and New Hampshire are the same latitude!

I have always understood that New Zealand is south of the equator, but I’ve never really recognized how it compares with familiar places north of the equator.  Thanks to my friend Troy Baisden, who supplied this handy graphic, it’s easy to see that New Zealand spans roughly the same latitudes as North Carolina to Maine, and even a bit of Canada.

Coincidentally, Aoraki (Mt. Cook) is almost exactly as far south of the equator as Dartmouth is north of the equator.  Dartmouth (Baker Tower) is at approximately 43.7 degrees north; Aoraki is at approximately 43.6 degrees south [map].

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