Winners

My two favorite shots of the trip are the two I had the least hope of coming away with.

The first is this HDR shot of an iceberg near Twillingate. Three shots on a moving boat took some work to merge. It was a total experiment that ended up working out.

Twillingate Iceberg - HDR

My other iceberg photos (including the ones from Iceland) can be found here.

The second was an attempt to photograph the Milky Way on one of the clear moonless nights. This is over the fjord near Gros Morne.

Milky Way in Gros Morne

I’m new to astrophotography and I don’t get to places where I can practice very often so I am rather happy with the results.

Day 19 – Cabot Trail

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There were storms on the island of Cape Breton. Lightning lit up our hotel room all night long. Cynthia slept like a log but I watched from the window for a while. It was pretty to watch, but was dashing hopes for a good day on the trail.

We got up and had breakfast and got on the road. We immediately hit some fog and also road construction.

Fog On The Cabot Trail

As we drove we went in and out of the fog as we went up and down the mountains. It was not encouraging. But we kept driving. Eventually we did clear the fog and the rain stopped. And the view improved.

Cabot Trail

We kept driving and decided to go ahead and take the entire loop around the Cabot Trail. That’s over 200 miles in total so it was a full day.

We had a good time, stopping now and again to see what there was to see

Inukshuk On Cape Breton Island

And even to goof around

Cynthia Moose

Jay Moose

It turned into a beautiful day and we had a great time

Cabot Trail

When we finally returned to the hotel that afternoon we took a hike on the Middle Head Trail that is on the grounds behind our hotel.

Middle Head Trail (Ingonish)

Middle Head Trail (Ingonish)

Middle Head Trail (Ingonish)

It was beautiful, but we were pretty tired so we only walked for a mile or so before turning back. This was a find end to this fantastic journey. Tomorrow we drive back to the Halifax area so we can pack up and get ready to catch our flight home.

Day 18 – Baddeck To Ingonesh The Long Way Round

Tonight we’re staying in Ingonesh, but Ingonesh is only 2 hours away from Baddeck so we opted to take a trip around the Cabot Trail via the western side.

Cabot Trail< We had to stop by the park office to get a pass to allow us to drive in Cape Breton Highlands National Park which contains much of the scenic drive. Cabot Trail

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, stopping frequently to enjoy the scenic vistas and take some photos

Cabot Trail

Cynthia On Cabot Trail

We also took two detours to travel down some rugged gravel roads to see some waterfalls. Sadly, they were not all that spectacular and were not really worth the effort it took to get to them.

Mary Ann Falls - Nova Scotia

We took most of the day to make our way to Ingonesh and get checked into our hotel. This is the final phase of the trip and we will use tomorrow to explore the park some more before packing up and heading back to Halifax for our flight home.

Day 17 – Lunenburg to Baddeck

As usual, we were up early and got out of town quick to make our way to the next destination. The drive took us close to Peggy’s Cove so we decided to take the short detour and see if it was any better in the early morning. It was. Still some tourists crawling around, but not as bad as yesterday.

Peggy's Cove

We left and made a stop near D’Aubins Cove where we noticed the water was exceptionally still

D'Aubins Cove

We drive on to Baddeck and got checked into our hotel. Turns out there was a small festival in the city center where we were able to see some live traditional music and have an enjoyable but early evening.

Baddeck Street Festival

Tomorrow, Cabot Trail!

Day 16 – Around Lunenburg

Today the weather was great to we set off to explore the ara. The first stop was Blue Rocks which was recommended by our guide book. A small but scenic little village that offered some great photo opportunities.

Blue Rocks - Nova Scotia

Blue Rocks - Nova Scotia

Blue Rocks - Nova Scotia

We then proceeded to drive the Lighthouse Trail toward Peggy’s Cove. Stopping in the town of Mahone Bay we were met with more beautiful scenery.

Mahone Bay

We drove on toward Peggy’s Cove and made a few stops along the way

Sadly, by the time we reached Peggy’s Cove it was overrun with tourists and we decided to make it a quick pass and headed back to our B&B in Lunenburg. Once there we decided to call it a day and took the opportunity to rest up for our drive to Baddeck the next morning which was going to take us about 5 1/2 hours without much to see, really. This was the final step to position ourselves for exploring the Cabot Trail.

Day 15 – Digby to Lunenburg

Cape Forchu Lightstation In The Fog

We woke this morning to rain and fog. And we had fog for most of our drive to Lunenburg via Yarmouth. This was a bit of a disappointment as parts of the drive looked like they would have been quite scenic. We did try stopping at a few lighthouses, but the fog was just too thick to contend with.

There were some odd things to see on the road, though. Like this relic from the past.

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As we pulled into Lunenburg the weather began to clear up and we had the opportunity to go for a walk down by the harbor and see the boats and have some dinner.

We retired rather quickly to our charming bed and breakfast and called it a night. Tomorrow the weather looks to be very good and we have some driving planned to explore the area.

Bluenose II

Arrival St. John’s, Newfoundland

We had a 7:00 am flight from Houston to St. John’s with a connection in Toronto. Flying Air Canada our bags were checked through to to our final destination without the need to claim them and recheck them. We grabbed our rental car and made our way to the hotel and got checked in. A great day of travel without incident.

After checking into the hotel we drive up to Signal Hill, the sight of the reception of the first transatlantic wireless transmission on 12 December 1901.

Signal Hill, St. John's

Signal Hill, St. John's

There’s a great view from up there of Fort Amherst, St. John’s

Fort Amherst, St. John's

We even saw a giant Newfoundland dog

Newfoundland Dog

From there we went back to the hotel and had dinner and we’re calling it a night. Tomorrow we drive to Witless Bay to take a boat tour to see whales and puffins.

New Zealand Day 21 – Dunedin To Lake Tekapo

We woke up to what looked like more rain, but as we drove on to our next destination, the weather turned fine and we had a glorious day.

Our first stop was to see the Moeraki Boulders, some unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the coast of Moeraki and Hampden.

I wanted to try some long exposure techniques so I brought out my tripod and filters and these are some of the results

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

I may have gotten a little wet in my efforts to get these shots

water

We continued up the coast and I spotted a sign pointing to something called Steampunk HQ in Oamaru so we stopped to have a look. It was pretty cool to see.

Steampunk HQ, Oamaru

From there we turned inland and drive to Lake Pukaki and followed the coast to Mt. Cook. The scenery was just spectacular

Lupins At Lake Pukaki

Road Near Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Mt. Cook was covered in cloud and fog so we didn’t really get to see it. We turned around and drove on to Lake Tekapo and found our hotel.

Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki are the most amazing shade of turquoise blue I have ever seen. It’s due to the the glacier run off…something called glacial flour which is a term for the byproduct of the rocks being ground to powder by the glaciers.

The Lupins here are in full bloom and all over the place. It really is quite beautiful

Lupins At Lake Tekapo

Tomorrow we drive to Christchurch for our final day in New Zealand before flying home on Tuesday.

New Zealand Day 20 – Dunedin

We had an extra day scheduled in Dunedin that included some time on our own in the morning and a tour of the Penguin Place Yellow-Eyed Penguin Preserve and a cruise in Dunedin Harbor in the afternoon.

The weather was not so great and we were not very enthusiastic about our prospects. And we are getting very tired. We decided to take the morning and just relax. We got a little bored and walked over to the Dunedin Botanical Gardens which were nice, but then it started raining so we went back to the hotel.

At about 1:00 pm we were scheduled to be picked up by the tour operator so we decided what the heck and bundled up and met the bus and went on the tour.

The first stop was the preserve where we learned about the plight of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin. Turns out there are only about 700 on the mainland so the one we saw yesterday was really a rare sight.

Cynthia @ Penguin Place, Dunedin, NZ

At the penguin preserve they give you warm rain coats for the rainy days. This made things much better.

After they give their presentation they take the group through a series of blinds where you can observe the penguins.

Cynthia @ Penguin Place, Dunedin, NZ

Penguin Place, Dunedin, NZ

Penguin Place, Dunedin, NZ

THe next part of the tour was a trip out on the harbor on a small boat. Again we were provided with warm jackets

Cynthia On The Monarch - Dunedin

It was a little gloomy and wet, but we had a good time. We got to see some wildlife which was nice and Cynthia really enjoyed herself.

Dunedin Harbor

Albatross

We got back to the hotel pretty late and had some dinner and went to bed.

Next stop, Lake Tekapo

New Zealand Day 16 – Queenstown To Te Anau

We woke up early, as usual, and packed up to drive to Te Anau. This drive was relatively short and will put us in position to visit the magnificent Milford Sound tomorrow.

On the road we encountered llamas, deer and a group of curious cows

Llama

Deer

Cows

The drive took us through more magnificent countryside.

Road Reflections

We arrived in Te Anau before lunch time, but we were able to get checked into our hotel without a problem.

We took the day to relax and walk around Lake Te Anau

Little Pied Cormorant

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Marakura Yacht Club

Cynthia managed to get the best bird photo of the trip, the Tui Bird seen here eating from this bush.

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Tomorrow, the Milford Road and a cruise on Milford Sound. Weather is looking good for this.

New Zealand Day 14 – Franz Josef Glacier To Queenstown

Sadly, The Fanz Josef and even the Fox Glacier were a bust. Rain was coming down pretty steady and it was just not conducive to making the trek out to see them. Even the helicopters were grounded. We had a long drive ahead of us and decided to make our way to our next destination which was Queenstown.

River

Despite the rain and gloom, there was still some amazing sites to see, especially the clouds and mist as it came over the mountains.

Haast

The rain did begin to subside as we moved on and we made a few stops along the way, like this one to see the Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls

As we drove down the Haast River we had our first Lupin sighting

Lupins

Our midpoint on this leg of the journey was Wanaka where I wanted to see the most photographed tree in New Zealand

Lone Tree Of Wanaka

We also saw some purple lupins, Cynthia’s favorite.

Lupins

We then made our way up New Zealand’s highest sealed road, Crown Range Road which rises up to 3530 ft above sea level

Crown Range Road

We then descended into Queenstown just as the sky began to clear.

Queenstown

Also, today is Cynthia’s birthday. To celebrate we had dinner at an amazing restaurant called the Blue Kanu which serves food that mixes both Pacifica and Asian style, and blending the two cultures it aims to create a style and feel that they call “Polynasia”. Simply put, it was fantastic.

Blue Kanu

Tomorrow we explore Queenstown.

New Zealand Day 11 – Abel Tasman National Park

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We were not holding out much hope for today as it the forecast called for rain and possibly hail. But when we woke up there was some sunshine and a patches of blue sky. We decided we would go for it and make the drive some 60 miles to Abel Tasman where we had a cruise and hike booked for the day.

We made our way to Kaiteriteri and checked in and quickly boarded our boat, a medium sized catamaran that would take us up the coast to a series of secluded bays.

Beach

Beach

We were scheduled to get of at Bark Bay and do some exploring, but the weather was still “iffy” so we opted to stay on the boat and just ride the route till we got back to the point of origin. We did see some nice things like a seal colony

Seals

And Split Apple Rock

Split Apple Rock

We ended the cruise about mid-day and drove back to Nelson and explored a bit before having dinner.

Diocese of Nelson Christ Church Cathedral on Church Hill, central Nelson.

Tomorrow we drive to Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks and the weather looks to be great.

New Zealand Day 10 – Wellington To Nelson

ferry

Today we woke up early to return our rental and catch the Interislander Ferry from Wellington on the North Island to Picton on the South Island. The whole process was pretty straightforward and soon we were underway.

Cook Strait

The sky was overcast and there was some rain, but the 3 hour voyage was pleasant and uneventful. We sat with group of elderly Kiwis that were on holiday and they were great fun to talk to and they shared a wealth of information about New Zealand with us and the ferry ride passed quickly as a result.

car

We picked up our second rental car and proceeded to make our way to the next stop, Picton. The drive was very windy and took us along the sound and well up into the mountains. And though the skies were overcast, the views were quite spectacular

Cullen Point Lookout

On the way to Picton we stopped in Havelock for lunch. Havelock is the green tipped mussel capital of the world and we ate at a place called the Mussel Pot.

musselpot

For lunch we had the sampler plate for two that included mussels served in a variety of ways. It was all quite delicious.

mussels

While we were there we noticed there were a number of soldiers moving about. Turns out there was a joint military training exercise happening this week.

Military Manuevers In Havelock

We made it to our hotel and got checked in. The weather is a bit gloomy, and we are not overly optimistic about tomorrow when we are scheduled to visit Abel Tasman National Park. We’ll see how it goes.

New Zealand Day 9 – Tongariro National Park To Wellington

Road

We woke up to some gray skies and fog up in the mountains for our drive to Wellington. It was a long drive ahead of us and was more of a functional day to position ourselves for our ferry ride to the south island tomorrow rather than a sightseeing tour. Frankly, there’s not much to see on the way and the weather wasn’t helping.

Beach

When we arrived in Wellington we checked in to the hotel and then went to see the Gallipoli: The scale of our war exhibit at the Museum of New Zealand. The exhibit is simply staggering. To mark the World War 1 centenary, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa joined forces with Weta Workshop to create this exhibit. The central focus of the exhibit is the six rooms holding expertly crafted human figures at 2.4 times human scale. The lifelike recreations and the attention to detail are just mind boggling.

Gallipoli: The scale of our war | Museum of New Zealand

Gallipoli: The scale of our war | Museum of New Zealand

We also got to see the colossal squid, captured alive by the crew of the San Aspiring in 2007

Colossal Squid

Tomorrow we take the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton. For now, we enjoy the city affectionatly known as Windy Welly

Windy Welly