Got on a plane Christmas Eve 2005 with a couple of friends and didn't land until Boxing Day to find ourselves in most delighful, quiet, and friendly New Zealand! This trip was pretty much self-organized -- once we had our reservations for the Milford Track, other than plane tickets, a rental car reservation, a place to stay the first night, and a plan to meet up with a Kiwi friend in a couple weeks, we were open to three weeks of adventure (yep!).
Basically, we stayed at various backpacker hostels, which are located everywhere, quite inexpensive (typically less than $20 US each for a shared room), provide cooking facilities, and are a fun way to share the trip with other travelers. High on my list is the White Elephant in Motueka (where we spent four nights over the course of the trip), Barnyard Backpackers (near Te Anau), Rawhiti (in Geraldine), Samauri (in Turangi).
As I saw in a hostel somewhere - "Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet" - we went with the former option in Fiordland and are glad we did. But that was just part of the trip - we took some incredible hikes, went kayaking, running around on glaciers, visited a fascinating farm,met some delightful people, and even saw a few birds and other critters.
For this trip, I had both cameras, my 4 megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10 and my new, tiny 5 Mpx Canon SD-450. Once I got home, I waded through the more than 630 pictures to pick the better ones, cropped/resized/adjusted them with Paintshop Pro, and arranged them for this site. As usual, there are many more pictures in my head (those astonishing must-see glowworms on our last day and all the incredible waterfalls on the Milford Track that cameras can't capture in the rain, for example.) Apologies, again, that some of the photographs could be better, but the idea here was more to capture memories.
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