New Zealand–final thoughts

During my month in New Zealand I saw and learned many things and had many experiences. Though they are too many to mention here, and I’m not minimizing any of them, some places and impressions stand out for me.

With its beauty and natural wonders, combined with the country’s resolve to protect these values, New Zealand is a truly special preserve of natural and spiritual treasure.

The area that has grown on me the most is the Darran Mountains on the road to Milford Sound. For me, they seem enchanted. I feel a brooding presence and energy. I feel it in the mountains and their shapes, with high, steep cliffs above deep U-shaped valleys filled with lush vegetation. The granitic rocks are hard and tough, holding those walls solidly together for the ages. These mountains are big, but at the same time intimate as I gaze up at them from below, review my pictures and those of others or study them on a topo map.

The view from the road east of the Homer Tunnel of Mt. Crosscut and the surrounding walls has a feeling of permanence and shelter, as under the wings of a mother eagle. The panorama after exiting the tunnel on the west is stunning and humbling. There is a sense of the immense power of these mountains all around me.  To experience this as much as is possible through videos, click the links near the bottom of my April 9 post: .

In 2003 a pair of climbers crossed a trailless ridge into the isolated basin of Adelaide Lake. Their pictures give a sense of the land far above the road. The basin and its surroundings above treeline are stark, but their starkness is intriguing. Views out to the west reveal the fascinating combination of steep walls and hollowed-out valleys below.

Then there is the intimate experience of walking through rainforest at the bottom of a deep valley where the river boils through a slot a few feet wide in solid rock. Standing there, sensing the power of the water in its forward rush and its roar filling my ears is an experience that has grown on me each time I remember it. I again feel that enchantment, that brooding benevolent presence.

The area that is most inspiring to me is Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park with its huge, steep mountains, active glaciers filling entire valleys and its sense of dynamic ongoing creation right before my eyes. While looking down on the Tasman Glacier’s terminal lake we could see the glacier’s ice face and the many icebergs that have broken from it. While on the trail toward Sealy Tarns I distinctly heard the rumble of icefalls on the face below Mt. Sefton and the Footstool. I stood at the top of the Mueller Glacier’s 300-foot lateral moraine and looked across to an equally fresh and massive one on the other side. Then there is Aoraki itself–rising towerlike free and clear above already huge mountains.

These, then, are among the many memories I have brought home with me. I will always treasure the warm companionship of friends in their homes, on the road and on the trail. They will always remind me of the wonder and benevolent presence of the creator and life-giver who has made me, warts and all, an intimate member of this whole. And since this is so, it is so of each one of us.

With this great legacy and blessing, let us live in peace and harmony. Amen.


About David McCoard

After earning my MS in geology I've done various things including managing the ski touring program at a small lodge in the Sierra. In 2010 I retired from Contra Costa College in California. I've always been fascinated by the mountains and nature and have spent countless days hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing in the Sierra. The spiritual insights I've learned there have set the course for my life. Now I have time to share them and strike up a conversation.
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