Wanaka - Queenstown - Te Anau - Milford Sound
Having never been to Queenstown we swung by for a look and some breakfast. After somewhat surly service at Vu Du cafe (pretty ok food though) we did a bit of wandering around the shops only to return to our car, parked in a free car park, proudly displaying a parking ticket (where are those pesky Alpine parrots when you need them to attach loose bits of your car). So, stroppily paid up the $60. Pretty pathetic parking offence if you ask me, not exactly in anybody's way and parked way out of the town centre!
Began the long journey south to Te Anau and arranged a kayaking trip on Milford Sound for the next day with Fiordland Wilderness Experience - an excellent kayaking company we had used for our previous trip to Doubtful Sound.
There is only one place to stay in Milford Sound, the Lodge - very nice backpackers style accomodation - so we booked this too.
As we arrived in Te Anau we headed for a bird sanctuary run by the Department of Conservation (DOC) on the Road to lake Manapouri. Surprised we missed this last time round since this place has a live Takahe (a native flightless bird) to take a look at (though she's quite old).
Prehistoric looking and very rare Takahe
Quite a bit bigger than a Pukeko!
Pukeko for comparison - you see these all over the place. They seem to be thriving, perhaps because they can fly.
Following our bird observations (we also saw a Kaka and a number of other interesting bits and bobs), we headed to Te Anu for a coffee and a bit of shopping in preparation for our big kayaking adventure (and to buy some dinner to cook later).
Doug and AM soon figured out how to make my new taste for the Chai Latte seem a bit weak - look at the size of their coffees!
The drive up to Milford Sound was pretty impressive and yet 2 more hours from Te Anau. Amazing scenery ending in a small hole cut-out in the rock, which road signs reliably informed us was a "tunnel". This tunnel was hewn from the rock using hand tools and looked like it too. We drove in, flicked our lights on and expected ours eyes to adjust to the dark. They didn't. The tunnel was not lit. Eventually the road surface revealed it's potholes too. Gratefully emerging the other side we were greeted by more signs saying "NO STOPPING AVALANCHE ZONE" and you could believe it. We popped out of the tunnel into a HUGE rock bowl with extremely steep sides covered with the remnants of Spring snow (big remnants!). After about 5km we were allowed to stop, according to the road signs.
Finally got to the Lodge, checked in and showed Doug where the kitchen was (he's good at stuff like that). I took charge of mixing the ingredients for the world's most expensive trail mix, for lunch the next day.
A game of Yahtzee in the communal lounge was all we had time for before the generator was switched off for the night and the lights went out (11pm).