We are winding down our 2 week reconnoiter of the South Island. It has been rainy, cloudy, and socked-in for most of that time. Even though we were in, on, over, through, under, around the Southern Alps and had some amazing times, we never really saw much of them. This funny post from last week gives a hint of what we saw, versus what we could have seen. So, though we never saw the tops of any mountains, we did see New Zealand and Aotearoa.
When the Europeans were first exploring New Zealand they kept asking the Maori what the name of the whole land was. They answered, “Aotearoa”, The Land of the Long White Cloud. This is what Emily and I saw, and it was beautiful. The clouds are frequently in very clear layers and very different heights. The west side of the Southern Alps was always enshrouded in them. It gets the moist winds coming in from the Pacific. The east side (where it is much drier) was typically clearer. At Arthur’s Pass we actually hiked along the edge between west and east. The line was so distinct. We would go back and forth between two worlds. Wonderful.