Wedding Day, 4 March 2000
The 4th of March was Donna & David's
"big day" and Auckland certainly helped to make
the day one of complete perfection - the weather was
perfect, not a cloud in the sky, it was warm and sunny
and hundreds of thousands of Aucklander's gathered in
central Auckland for a huge ticker-tape parade to
celebrate! (OK - they were there for the America's Cup
parade - but it certainly added to the special day!)
The ceremony was held in the gardens of The
Lodge, Herne Bay. David and his groomsmen looked very
dapper as they awaited Donna's arrival - which was just a
few minutes late! A solo singer began to sing a wonderful
rendition of Shania Twain's "From This Moment
On" as the bridesmaids filed in looking very
glamorous! Then Donna appeared on Glyn's arm almost
bringing tears to our eyes - what a stunning bride! The
celebrant (Alex) performed a very humorous ceremony
culminating in a reciting of that excellent poem
"The Owl and the Pussycat". Donna and David
looked very much the couple in love as they exchanged
rings and promised each other a lifetime of happiness.
|The happy couple -
Mr and Mrs Thompson!!
|The Smith and Davies
||The Wedding party have a toast
The reception was as perfect as the rest of the day -
wonderful food, great company - and everyone had a ball
dancing the night away!
Queenstown - Walking the
Milford Track 12 - 19 March 2000
|Back in March we enjoyed a
truly memorable week away in Queenstown and the
Fiordland! For the first few days we relaxed in
luxury at the Millbrook Resort in our very own
cottage which was set amongst a little
"close" of cottages, surrounded by the
famous and extremely picturesque Millbrook golf
The cottage was
absolutely amazing - large and beautifully
decorated, with its own secluded patio and
gardens, looking out across the golf course with
stunning 360 degree views of the snow-capped
mountain ranges in the distance.
We spent the days playing golf,
shopping, dining etc. and generally making the most of
our last relaxing few days before the Milford Track! On
our last night we went for the prep talk for the track,
picked up our backpacks etc, and spent the evening
cutting down the contents of our packs to as little as we
could possibly envisage needing - basically our day
outfit which we would wear for each of the four days (and
wash and dry each night!), jumpers and wet weather
jacket, cap and gloves, an outfit for wearing at nights,
sleepwear and sleepsheet, plus insect repellent (don't do
the track without it!)etc. Anything more would just
become a pain - more weight to carry! We compared our
packs to see who had the lightest - I won (unfairly - as
poor Brent had to carry some of my gear as well - due to
my recent back injury).
|The next morning we met up
with our group of 42 fellow treckers (shown
with us in this group photo with our two tour
long bus ride, lunch and then boat ride we walked
just 1 mile to our lodging for the first night,
After settling our things in our rooms (8 bunks
per room) we all then went on a 2 mile bush walk
with our guides to learn all about the trees and
birds that we would be seeing on our walk the
|That night we
enjoyed the first of many 3-course dinners with
wine and our guide (Hamish) then gave us our
first entertaining slide show, letting us know
what we could look forward to doing and seeing
the next day on our walk.
|The next day we took off
tentatively on our 10 mile (16km) walk through
lush native bush alongside the Clinton River
towards Clinton's Canyon. It was a little
daunting looking up the long valley - seeing how
far we still had to go! There were some dramatic
sights along the way, such as the dead forest
(killed by floods from a landslide in the early
80's which blocked the Clinton River).
|We were pretty exhausted by
the time we reached our accommodation for the
night - Pompolona Lodge.
track to Clinton's Canyon
|Some trees killed from
flooding from the big landslides.
|Day 3: The day I'd been dreading! The ascent
to the top of McKinnon Pass (Altitude 1154m!) - 9
miles in all for the day. We started out at
7.30am and the path got steeper quite quickly! We
stopped at Mintaro Hut for a snack, surrounded
again by the cheeky Keas (mountain parrots). It
didn't take long for us to reach the beginning of
the zigzag trail which eventually took us all the
way to the top of McKinnon Pass.
|As we approached the top of the pass the
morning mist disappeared, to reveal another
sunny, clear blue sky day. The views from the top
were sensational! WOW!
Up the top looking back
at how far we have come!
We made it! The
|We savoured lunch at the summit
in Pass Hut. From the top, we thought the rest of
the walk would be easy! (Wrong!) The descent had
been decribed in a guide book as "bone
jarring" - how right they were!
|However once we got down below the tree line
we were rewarded with some really stunning
sights! Through the "Enchanted Forest"
we walked along fabulous suspended wooden
walkways beside a waterfall which spilled from
one lagoon to the next. We even spyed a Blue Duck
surfing from one rock pool to another in search
of food! Our legs were shaking by the time we
reached Quintin Lodge and we had to have a quick
lie down to recouperate!
Before dinner Donna, Brent and I did manage to
summon the strength to do another 70-minute walk
to and from Sutherland Falls - the world's fifth
highest waterfall! Quite a sight - glad we did
|Day 4 promised 13 miles of mostly downhill
walking (yay!). The lush forest continued to
change as we walked along the track which
included an extensive boardwalk and numerous
suspension bridges - really beautiful! We came
across quite a few spectacular small waterfalls
such as the one shown here - a busy day for the
camera! Unfortunately my back started to really
"play up" again on this day - so I was
relieved to finally see the last marker come into
sight! From this marker it was only half a mile
to Sandfly Point (aptly named!) which marked the
end of our walk! Here we took the first boat out
across Milford Sound to Mitre Peak Lodge.
|At the end of the track -
what an achievement!
||Those of us who made it
onto the first boat out!
|We sure showered and relaxed that
afternoon before getting together with the rest
of the group for the end-of-walk celebration
dinner. The evening ended late with laughter,
music (David joined in with a guitar!) and
On the last day we were taken on boat
cruise around the Milford Sound (more impressive
waterfalls - and even a group of seals!) before
taking a bus to Te Anau for a lovely last lunch
together with our 42 walking companions! From
there we bused to the airport. Goodbye Queenstown
and Fiordland! We had an unforgettable time!