Te Anau, Glow Worms & Milford Sounds

After leaving behind Dunedin we arrived in Te Anau. This was one of those times that you randomly pic something not thinking it will have much effect on your life and then discover you have found something wonderful. This was Te Anau!

The pictures in my flickr site after the Otago Museum are of us swimming in this amazing clear, land locked, beautiful, cold lake that lies at the foot of some stunning mountains. We couldn’t believe we had been so lucky as to get accommodation (so cheaply) in such an amazing location (next time we have to pic cabin 169 – it has the best view and location).

That night we went on a tour of the Glow Worm caves. It is cold, wet, and a little small (if Dr Krystal could do it, so could I!) This was a really lovely experience. I had expected the glow worms to be much much bigger, but they are the tinniest little things, the ceilings of the caves looked liked someone had just installed tiny blue LEDs at different brightnesses (the brighter the glow worm the hungrier it is). It was a very pretty and romantic trip and only a little bit scary. Now, because this is my journal thing I get to write whatever I like, so here I shall share with you one of my favorite poems:

I’d love to be a glow worm
A glow worm is never glum
It’s hard to be downhearted
When the sun shines out your bum

We were not allowed to take any photos inside the glow worm caves as it disrupts things for them so I’m afraid I can’t share any wonderful pics but you can visit the Real Journey’s site (the people we took our tour with) and have a look there.

There are a series of pics we took the morning after we arrived, I’m pretty impressed with these pics (and even Craig finally decided to have a play with my camera for the first time ever so he could also capture some of this stunning morning). I had walked out of our cute triangle cabin to go down to the showers, as I reached the showers I stoped dead in my tracks, if the view of the lake the evening before was stunning, this was simply magical. I had Craig race back up to our room to get my camera and tripod and rushed down the the lake side to capture this spectacular image. I took a panaramic shot of the mountains and at some point I will connect all the pics together and print them out.

It was about this point that I also fell in love with ducks, so in the future you will see a quit a few duck pics (sorry about that but they were just too cute). Now I must also mention the last photo in Te Anau is of the Olive Grove, they serve a fantastic dinner and breakfast, very worth the visit.

After my morning photo session, we packed our bags and headed off to Milford Sounds. There is a great photo that we almost didn’t get as the camera battery was basically dead and so the camera really didn’t want to respond, but we did get it “great pic”. For those who don’t get it, there is a picture of a brown tourist sign pointing to “The Divide” and directly below that sign is a blue sign with an arrow pointing in the same direction with a picture of “woman|man” (we thought it was funny).

The passage into Milford sounds is along a windy road (where we got to see part of a car commercial being filmed by a low flying, sideways flying helicopter) and that white stuff in the pics – snow – actually snow in summer. There is a tunnel that you have to wait at to get through to the final pass into Milford and if I had have wanted to (which I did but everyone else didn’t want to miss the 15min window when the lights change to let us through the pass), I could have gotten out of the car and gone on a short wonder off the road to touch and play with the snow (remember this is the middle of summer, and you have to excuse my excitment about such things as I had only touched snow once before in my life when I was about 11). Finally the lights changed and we were able to continue on to our destination.

Now, at this point my camera had no battery power (remember The Divide), so I was a little sad that I might not be able to take any photos of the Sounds, however, the nice people at the cafe allowed me to plug in my charger and we had enough to snap away happily, which is lucky for us as there are more photo’s of Milford Sound then of anything else in our entire holiday I believe. This is partly because it was really amazing scenery and partly because Craig had adopted my camera and so we were both having fun taking photos for the entire trip.

Aside from giant mountains, waterfalls and seals, we also had a short stop over at the Underwater Observitory, unfortunatly the wonderful sunny weather we had been praising thus far also results in the algi blooms growing so the water was a little cloudy so we couldn’t see very far out into the water, oh and the guy in the wetsuit outside – he really is the window washer!

We had a lovely, windy, lazy and wet (at least Bill who got soaked when the boat put its front end into a waterfall) splendid day. Ohh, that pump you see Craig hand pumping, he is actually, really and trully pumping petrol into our car. Only New Zealanders can get petrol in Milford Sound, the rest of us have to try our luck several ks down and off the main road and a very quant camping place compleate with H-bomb.

Our NZ holiday begins

(the above link is to my flickr site, you can follow along with the pics if you like)

We flew out of Melbourne on the 27th January. We had to be at the airport 2 hours before the flight left, I thought this was a bit excesive, check-in couldn’t take that long could it? what was I going to do for the other 1.5hrs *sigh*. As it turned out, that two hours was just enought time to checkin, collect a few last minute things (like my motion sickness tablets and these really wonderful earplugs that regulate the air pressure, ahhhh wonderful things they really are), we then had a few minutes to sit down and relax, read our books and take a few pre-flight-I’m-so-excited-I’m-going-on-holidays photos.

I really was very excited, this was only my second time overseas, and even though it was just New Zealand I was still very very excited. Craig was a little more blazay about the whole thing as he’d been there before when he was little.

The flight was rather uneventful (thankfully), it was rather depressing to see just water under me window (yes I got posession of the precious window seat). But once we reached land, Craig and I really got excited about the whole affair, leaning over each other to see out the window, pointing out sites and landmarks (btb we were flying into Christchurch at this point). For someone who has never seen the coast of another country from the air (it was night when I arrived at New Caledonia in 1995), it was just amazing, I would never have believed a country so close to Australia could really look that much different, but even the layout of the farm lands was so very different, the pictures taken from out plan window don’t capture the lovely colours of the patchwork ground but you can get an idea of the layout.

There where so many parts of the landscape that impressed me one of these was the river paths, I’m not sure if these rivers ever have more water then they did as we flew in, but from the air, they looked to me like veins of silver in the landscape, the photos really don’t do justice to the colours unfortunatly but you can get an idea of what I saw. Another impressing sight was the connection between open sea to coast and followed by chocolate mountains, it was really really amazing to see.

This wonderful view of the South Island continued after we landed in Christchurch as we collected our baggage, checked into our domestic flight to Dunedin and continued our arial tour.

I can’t say we were very impressed with Dunedin once we arrived. To us it seemed very dusty and uncaired for. Apparently most of the housing in Dunedin is rental properties to students who populate the town only during the middle part of the year and then it is abandoned for the summer. The owners of these houses don’t bother to maintain them at all as the students will pay about $100pw just for a room (that’s steep in my book). I found it really sad to see so many derilict looking buildings, Dunedin looked tired and depressed.

The reason we had started our trip in Dunedin was because we were meeting our frinds Bill & Kelly. Bill had been attending a Lynix conference here for the past week which was to finish up on Saturday, so until then Craig, Kelly and I amuzed ourselves.

We jumped on a double-decker buss in town and took a tour of Dunedin. We saw the world’s steepest street (which Bill and Kelly had walked up the night before – they even have a certificate to prove it). We saw the historic train station (which is impressive but I think Albury’s one is nicer, but I could be biased), and we learnt how Dunedin had reclaimed most of its land by cutting the tops off all the hills and tossing it into the water, and this was before tonka trucks people).

The next day we had a tour of the Otago museum, oddly though Kelly and I took lots of photos of the stunning tradional Japanes Clothing display rather then the things related to NZ (there were two photo’s of the Moa bird, giant prehistoric bird, but I’m having a “I’m fat” issue at the moment and hated myself in those photos so they didn’t make the cut, sorry people).

Craig and Bill left Kelly and I at the museum to collect our hier car. Poor boys thought it would be a short walk, ooops – a long time later – they returned with the car, and we really started our trip (with only 1 wrong turn and a bit of a detour in the oposite direction), tonight we would be in Te Anau.