Friday, February 12, 2016

From Jackson Bay to Makarora

Jackson Bay, New Zealand (June 1, 2008)

The view at Jackson Bay, and on the road to get there, was certainly worth the drive (and the skipped lunch). The original reason we went there, however, was for the chance of getting to see the local colony of penguins. The timing was wrong, though, as penguins spend the day out at sea, fishing. We still saw other interesting birds, like the cormorant in the photo (maybe a Little Pied Cormorant?), quite upset that I bothered him with my camera, during its afternoon rest on the Jackson Bay pier.

The Milky Way

As it was getting late, once we got back to the main road at Haast, we went to the visitor office (an impressive concrete “cathedral” a little out of place in the very small village) to see if we could reserve a place for the night further along the road. Apparently they couldn’t do it, and they didn’t know where we could get food either, so we just decided to take our chances and keep driving. At sunset we finally reached Makarora, a tiny village surrounded by the Mount Aspiring National Park. We stopped at the Makarora Wilderness Resort. The resort was a nice surprise. Being out of season it was almost empty, and we got one of their cozy chalet for the night, for a cheaper price than expected. And then, best of all, we got our fish and chips, prepared by the custodian of the place, even though the restaurant was closed (due to the Queen's Birthday the next day). Fish was good, crankiness gone, a lively fire was burning in the fireplace... what more could we desire for the day? Well, as we were walking back to the chalet we looked up, to discover, for the first time since we were in New Zealand, a totally cloudless dark sky, with an impossibly bright Milky Way cutting through it (the Milky Way is much brighter seen from the Southern Hemisphere, from where the Bulge of our Galaxy is visible), and the Magellanic Clouds in all their glory. A perfect way of ending the day!

Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand (June 1, 2008)

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