NZ Day 7: Through the Pass

There was lots of traffic on our drive today. Did we mention New Zealand is full of sheep?!

We left Queenstown to drive north along SH 6 and through the Haast Pass. It’s the lowest of the three main passes through the Southern Alps, and there are no settlements for almost the entire route.  Instead, the forests are virtually untouched with moss covered beech trees and ancient ferns dominating the landscape.

Winding through the Pass, we stopped at a couple of waterfalls and a set of cerulean pools amidst the forests.  The water really is intensely blue due to a combination of purity and sediment.  We wanted to wait for some penguins at one of the beaches, but the sandflies were out in force and drove us off.  Shortly after, the rain set in so we made haste to our hotel.

This was another drive that started out with beautiful mountains and lakes.  The impending rain made the clouds stick close to the mountainsides and gave them a mysterious aura.

Despite the natural beauty around us, the highlight of our day was the sheep jam.  A group of shepherds was moving their flock from one field to another. The sheep completely blocked the road and cars were forced to slowly crawl through a seething mass of wool and hooves.

The flock was expertly guided along by several shepherds and a multitude of sheepdogs. The shepherds actually had the dogs penned up in the back of a truck and would let them out a few at a time as needed.  The sheep seemed to enjoy their excursion and were totally unfazed by cars and buses pushing through their midst.

Our internet connection is spotty, so there won’t be many pictures for a few days. We’ll get the best of them uploaded but will post more later. We’re in Fox Glacier for a couple of days for more hiking and hopefully sunnier weather.  Pictures are here, with more to come.

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