On Sunday, we boarded another small bus for the 2-3 hour trip to Te Anau, where the Milford Track begins. That evening, we discussed Anne's ankle, which was feeling basically OK, but we both decided that even though the trip was billed as "easy with a total climb of no more than 120 meters, Tom did not want to have to carry Anne back, since the day's walk was to be longer than any other we had done by far - 10 kilometers. Good plan as it turned out that the guide must have thought she was getting points for originality and took the group straight up a rocky riverbed to see the view. There were three "paying" customers on the hike, Tom, Liz (from the previous Classic Journeys tour) and Klaus from Germany. The remaining 17 on the trek were from local travel and touring companies, getting to sample the famous walk so when they made recommendations to their clients, they were doing it from experience. The 8 mile roundtrip was over flat, wide trails and along a rushing river. Most of the scenery was what we had seen before on our Classic Journeys trip. We saw the 600 year old birch trees and the mossy growths on the rocks and the ferns. The rain held off until we re-boarded the boat that took us back to Te Atau Downs where we had begun the journey on Lake Te Atau which is the second largest lake in New Zealand by area and largest in water volume.
Meanwhile, Anne wanted to take a helicopter scenic tour, but for various reasons, nothing was available. So, she finally settled on a quad ATV adventure (!!!) which was absolutely wonderful. She was picked up by the van run by the family owned business (which also has horses), and outfitted with a complete rainsuit, boots, a helmet and padded gloves. Even with no previous experience on an ATV, she roared right up the hills, through mud puddles as well as through flocks of sheep and cattle, up to to top of a very high hill with a wonderful view. After two and a half hours, she felt like her arms were going to fall off, but on the other hand, she was just getting the real hang of it! After returning to town and lunch, she went to a film in a specially built cinema to see a beautiful half-hour movie of this Fiordland World Heritage Area done by helicopter.