Archive for February 21st, 2019

If you’ve made it this far in the blog, then you know we are at our final location … the South Island. However, we picked up a rental car in Invercargill and are making a big swing around the South Island. I’m going to abbreviate it NZ(SI). Too hard to type it all!

As I stated we picked up a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross as our rental car … here’s a picture of it. I always thought Eclipses were sports cars … I guess they were reworked and now they are SUVs. This one has worked brilliantly for us.

We picked it up in Invercargill, I got in on the right side to drive and off we went! Our first destination was Te Anau. This small town in the Fiordlands gave us access to a couple of places on our list. Many people visit Milford Sound from here — we went to Doubtful Sound instead. The other thing on our list was the Glow Worm caves. We also saw some birds but they are for another post.

We checked into our hotel that first night and were planning a hike on the Kepler track the next day. However, the weather didn’t look agreeable and so we decided to visit the Bird Sanctuary instead. We made it there and for a short hike before it started raining. We were keeping our fingers crossed that our trip to Doubtful Sound the next day would go ok.

We were picked up by the tour bus the next morning for our journey to Doubtful Sound. The name of our company was “Real Journeys” so we felt we were in good hands. To get to Doubtful Sound is a little like a movie … you take the bus to a pier. You then take a boat (large catamaran) across this lake to another pier.

You get on a bus and they drive you up over a pass and down the other side to get on the final boat for your tour of Doubtful Sound. This was basically a six-hour journey. As I said, we were picked up by the bus and dropped at the pier and then boarded our first boat. This boat ride was about 40 minutes across this large lake … about 35 minutes into the ride, the boat suddenly turned around and started heading back. The Skipper came on the line and said they had a rock slide on the road over the pass and we couldn’t continue with the tour. Fortunately for us, we had left a little flex in our schedule. We had booked this tour and the Glow Worm tour as a set with this same company. We got back to the dock and worked it out with them to tour the glow worms that day and come back for another try at Doubtful Sound the next day. All good …

Our next challenge was getting the 15 kilometers back to our hotel. Our original bus driver was nowhere to be found … we saw a guy in a big bus about to leave and asked him if he’d give us a lift. He said “ok” and dropped us off right across from our hotel. On the way back to the hotel he filled us in on all the great places to ride and visit on the South Island … this all matched up with everything we had planned. Fantastic!

We waited until the afternoon to go see the glow worms and made our way over to that dock. Here’s a couple of photos of that journey.

You can’t take photos in the glow worm caves. This was an interesting trip as well. As you can see above, we had a 30 minute boat ride across the lake (a different lake) to the Cavern House. We made our way inside and they immediately broke us up into groups of about 10 people. They give you a quick safety briefing and then you head into the cave. This cave was carved out by the glacial waters from high in the mountains. About a half mile inside the cave is where they have the glow worms. You walk along these steel grate paths until you get back to a small lake. They ask everyone to be quiet, you enter the boat and sit down, they turn off all the lights and then (I assume) the guide uses ropes to pull the boat along so you can see the “glow worms.” I thought there’d be thousands of these things in the ceiling … not really … more like several hundred or so. It is beautiful … but once you find out that these are fly larvae (maggots) it kind of puts you off a little. So we floated under the maggots for about 10 minutes and then back we went for the hike out. We had another story at the end, got our 30 minute boat ride back and called it a great day. We were ready for the second chance at Doubtful Sound!

The third day was a charm as we headed over for our Doubtful Sound tour. Everything went along smoothly–both bus trips and both boat rides! We were there early and ready to go … what a beautiful Sound (or Fiord or whatever). Here are some photos to give you an idea of the beauty …

This place was quite magical … even the views from inside were stunning.From the rain the previous day there were hundreds of temporary waterfalls. Low lying clouds added to the mystique and mist formed on several mountains.Just incredible scenery the whole time …Around every rock or mountain was more gorgeousness …Just amazing.The mist and clouds made it a special time.Some of the imagery even looked fake.We did have to bundle up a little but it was worth the effort to see these sights.We went all the way to the end of the sound and saw a few seals …

Just a wonderful, relaxing trip. The ship’s captain took the boat up into one of the arms of the fiord and turned off all the engines … we just floated there in the quiet and beauty listening to the waterfalls and bird song.

We cruised back to the pier, caught our bus back to the next boat, enjoyed that ride, had a bus the second time and were dropped off right at our hotel.

Wow, we had an excellent adventure in Te Anau. With this as a kickoff for the next five weeks we felt we were in for a treat the whole time. Next up — Glenorchy!


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