Back in my house in the United States, after having traveled across the date line and through 16 time zones.

What a trip we have just taken!  I hope to convey with words and pictures just how fabulous our adventure was.  I anticipate it will take a couple of entries so check back if I don’t get it all done in one setting!

Readers of this blog will know that we have arranged to take along a number of friends with us on our journeys in the form of Flat Facsimiles:

My Flat Friends - that's Emily and Susan in the front!

We made 18 friends, including Aden, for whom Jesse assumed responsibility most of the trip:

Big Jesse working his magic at the kiosk in the airport

We had great luck on our trip to New Zealand – Nashville to Atlanta, Atlanta to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Sydney, Sydney to Queenstown, New Zealand!  Sam and Laura live on the North Island, and took a ferry to the South Island, then drove about 15 hours to meet us in Queenstown.

Queenstown Airport
view from the hotel in Queenstown

We spent the next day sightseeing the town, grocery shopping for the hike, driving Mr. Bongo on the WRONG side of the road, looking at Laura and Sam, the usual.

That's Mr. Bongo to Jesse's right

The countryside is just beautiful, and Queenstown is a little ski/tourist town near the Remarkables Mountain Range.  We enjoyed eating in town and shopping for the last few things we needed for the trip.

That's Dora pigging out on chips the day before the competition diet begins!

The next day, we parked the car at the Visitor Center and loaded up for our 4-day, 54 kilometer hike.

At the Visitor Center at Fjordlands National Park

Getting to the trailhead involved a bus ride and a boat ride through a beautiful area.

boat ride from Te Anau Downs to Milford Track Trailhead

The first day’s walk was only 90 minutes.  This hike, or Track as they are called in New Zealand, is an organized trail to 3 different huts over 4 days, with a group of 34 other hikers.  The huts are bunkhouses, and have a general cooking area with sinks (no hot water), and propane cooktops.  The group consisted of lots of Kiwis, some Aussies, some Germans, 2 other Americans besides us, 2 Brazilians, 2 from Czech Republic, 3 Israelis (more about them later), and 2 Dutch.

Trailhead - see how clean we are?
One of the many suspension bridges we crossed
That's a huge beech tree behind Sam

Because we had such a short walk the first day, we brought in salmon steaks for dinner, and they were DELICIOUS.  What’s the expression about hunger being the best appetizer?  We were starving, and Laura fixed couscous corn cakes and steamed broccoli too.

You have no idea how good this meal was!
my little bunk in the Clinton hut, with my Flats
look at this adorable girl!
not luxury, but so haaard to get out of in the morning!

So that takes us to the first night, so I’ll conclude this post and start another.

Thanks for reading!