We spent 3 nice days in the "Torres del Paine" national park where we
finished the "W" track we started 2 years ago. This time, we were able
to visit the missing part of the track that was closed 2 years ago due
to the fire in the park. The vegetation has not recovered fully from the
fire, so you see a lot of burned trees along the track up to the
glacier. Since we didn't want to camp, we booked 2 beds in the hut there
and they do dinner as well, so we just needed to carry lunch with us
(which still was heavy enough).
|Flowers growing again in the park|
|Los Cuernos and burned trees|
From the cold and windy south, we made our way up to Santiago de Chile by plane and we arrived in the night at our hostel. We had a double room and the size of the room was big enough to play tennis inside (we actually set the alarm clock to watch the live ticker of Stan!). Or last days in South America we spent with eating, sleeping, using the swimming pool and reading... except for the day where we went to a guided city tour (which was very good!). Since we had some Argentinian Pesos left, we wanted to exchange them in Chile where we noticed that the exchange rate dropped dramatically. So we did not get much Chilenian Peso out of it, but it was sufficient to have dinner and reach the airport of Santiago with it. There, we boarded our Boeing 747 from Quantas for our flight to Sydney (a 14 hour fight).
So, we arrived around 18.00 local time the airport of Sydney, followed by the immigration procedure. We finally checked in at our hotel around 21.00, went for a quick dinner and then straight to bed. Due to the time shift, we were awake early, so we spent our day sight seeing in Sydney (see the pictures below) and we did some essential shopping (out-door stuff). In the evening, we took our Virgin flight to Christchurch for our Kiwi-Adventure. Believe it or not: the immigration takes even longer than in Australia and South America due to the "pest" Control where they wanted to see our hiking boots... Never ending story in short: we arrived in our hostel at 2 in the morning :-)
|Sydney Opera House|
Christchurch was hit by several earthquakes in 2010 / 2011 and almost everything in the city centre is destroyed or needs to be taken down. So in comparison to the city I visited 10 years ago, it is a ghost city in the centre. The cathedral is partially destroyed and there is hardly any shops open in the centre, but there is a lot of space for street art! Besides visiting the city, we were also up to find a cheap rental car and we found it! 37 Kiwi-Dollars (33 USD / 30 CHF) per day and a funny car: Toyota OPA! Not a small car at all but very thirsty (9-10 l per 100 km). So after the acclimatization time, we left Christchurch and headed south to Omaru to visit the penguin colonies there (Yellow - Eyed penguins and blue penguins) before we continued to Dunedin (the city where they brew "Speights - The pride of the South", where you can see Albatross and yellow eyed penguins as well) through the south of the island (the Catlins) to get to Te Anau for our 3 Day Keppler Track. The track is one of the "Great Walks" which are e.g. Milford Sound Track (booked out for this year) and Routeburn Track (also heavily booked already) and the Keppler Track is heavily booked as well, so we had to do a very long first day (25 km) followed by two shorter days. Usually, you splitt our first day into 2 days, but the hut was fully booked already, so we had no other option. The weather was perfect and the track was good as well, so we spent 3 relaxed days there. But before leaving for it, we had a another sunny day in the Milford sound and it's surroundings! We can't complain about the weather so far, just about the sand flies....
Now, our next plans are to drive direction north to Mt. Cook and Arthur's Pass for some more outdoor activities.
|Centre in Christchurch|
|Peninsula next to Dunedin|
|Sea Lion posing for the picture|
|Nugget Point - Catlins|
|Family swimming in the Catlins|
|Key summit on the way to Milford Sound|
|View from Keppler track|
|Iris Burn waterfall in the morning|