We crossed over the Haast Pass and down into a wholly different New Zealand. The rainforest and Southern Alps cleaved tightly to the ocean shore, and none of them really seemed to fit together, at least to my midwestern eyes. Because the mountains rise so suddenly off of the shore, all of the prevailing weather runs head-long into the altitude change and dumps all of its moisture as rain and snow. This gives New Zealand the honor of being one of the only locations where glacier meets rainforest. Two days in a row we were rained out of our helicopter glacier treks, so we enjoyed the terrible scale of the mountains and glaciers from the bottom.
The next day was spent on a slow tramp through, up, down, and around the beautiful small landscapes of Lake Matheson's surrounding rainforest area. Intimate streams and valleys—tiny worlds formed by tree roots and trunks and obscured by massive ferns—were beautiful and compelling to explore and photograph.