Just a quick update (more detailed one to follow):
We've spent the last week in the Fiordland area, amidst some of the most beautiful scenery I've seen. Apparentlly it's one of the Southern Hemisphere's premier wilderness areas and has been recognised as a World Heritage Area (WHA).
We went to Milford Sound and saw seals and penguins playing around – spending a night in the tranquility of the sound was awesome. No sooner did we return to land than we booked ourselves on one of New Zealand's Great Walks, the Kepler Track. It's a 4 day hike taking in the full range of the scenery in the WHA, from almost a full day above the tree line on a still snowy alpine ridge path to days walking through native bush with plants that have survived almost unchanged since Gondwana. (Gondwana is a much harked about time when all the southern continents (Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, etc) were joined in one land mass over 100 million years ago).
The hike is probably a highlight of my trip so far and we'll post photos soon. After recovering from the walk we drove to Christchurch where we went to see Muse play and unfortunately we're having to say good bye to Vicki now, who is heading home in time for Christmas. Sharon and I are continuing North from here, to the only page in our NZ road atlas that we've not been to yet, Able Tasman/Nelson/Murchison area, but we've planning the rest of our trips, moving our flights to their proper dates and booking some tours in Australia, India and Nepal…