Cruise South-East Asia and On to Australia / New Zeland travel blog

Te Anu on the Lake

End of the Fjord

Milford Sound Cruise Ship

Milford Sound Mountains

Milford Sound Waterfall

A Ray of Sunshine

Fur Seals Ignoring Us

Fjordland Penguins

No Coast on these Mountains

Wow, more Sunshine!

We were up early the next morning with some foggy dew to begin our 117 km. drive to Milford Sound. The first 70 km. was through a mix of scrub lands and a major grassy plain. Our elevation change was gradual and we finally came to some twisty sections before the infamous tunnel. This was bored out of very hard rock for 1.2 km. With a 10% decline. One way traffic is controlled by a traffic light system. If I was biking through it would not be a pleasant experience. The road beyond was very good with numerous pull offs for sightseeing. As we were early the steady stream of vehicles was yet to come.

The cruise we picked and paid for ($78NZ pp) in Te Anu was a new catamaran for two hours with a live person talking about the wildlife. We waited about 45 minutes with the boat probably 1/3 full. It was not that way for later cruises with the masses piling off tour buses. Coffee and tea were offered, very good hot soup was served for $2.00 a cup, and packed bag lunches were also available for sale.

The day was officially overcast with the occasional blue patches. That is very good for Milford Sound as often two of three days dreary weather is expected and experienced. The mountains rose straight up out of the deep blue water with the occasional waterfall cascading down. There was one other dead end inlet but the main passage to the Tasman Sea was the route there and back. We stopped a few times for waterfalls, vegetation description, fur seals and two very special Fjordland crested penguins playing hide and seek between water and rocks. The penguins are the second smallest in existence with the Fairy Penguins smaller (remember Phillip Island). The boat was able to nose in close to the rocks throughout due to the water depths.

Some of the participants chose a second activity of viewing an underwater observatory while we needed to move on to Queenstown again (4 1/2 hr. drive). Back to Te Anu and lots of oncoming tour buses and back north again to Queenstown. The drive was quick (110-120 kph) and we arrived to find our hotel / hostel for the night. It sounded OK with the write up in but was not from the get go. One had to maneuver around many Eastern European young men knocking a soccer ball around up to our 3rd floor (no lift) loft room. Single bed, kitchen sink, small refrigerator and tea kettle and washroom on a dark main level. The access to a poor queen bed was via a ladder. The way they had the bed configured had on hunched over to be able to walk around the bottom of the bed. I am not a small guy but I can't imagine someone over 6 feet tall.

As mentioned earlier Queenstown is booming and probably much like Whistler 20+ years ago with less space to maneuver in. Tramping (hiking), biking, skiing, and kayaking shops are in abundance. The crowds are mainly 20 somethings many on temporary working visas providing labour for the bustling communities. One could not stay long here without money. The dump we had just vacated had six girls or guys in the same type of room I described earlier at $160/night. It appeared the guys and girls kept their distance as we headed away from the sumptuous breakfast of rise krispies and toast. Enough said.... it is located at the end of a beautiful lake, the view from the upper floors of the building is beautiful, and all will sort itself out. (If nothing else it was clean.)

Our travels were taking us to Dunedin on the east coast and the South Pacific. Again the drive had its very picturesque spots of vineyards overlooking water, farming communities, camping or caravan parks and arid hills and pleasant valleys. Our destination had a large collection of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Our pleasant B & B was housed in a home built 158 years prior (1863). Most street names were Scottish with even a Larnach Castle was nearby finished in 1887 and built on the spoils of the gold rush and being a merchant baron.

Those who appreciate pubs and old hotels such as the Robert Burns would have a great tramp around.

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