Fiordland NP (Kepler Track, Milford Sound, Te Anau)
I woke up 4 times to go to the bathroom last night. Honestly, who does that?? I didn’t even drink more than usual. So as a result, I woke up tired and unrefreshed. Boo.
We left camp at 8:30 and drove 4 hours to Lake Manapouri. We stopped at the ‘loo’ in Gore, where you had to press a button to make the bathroom door slide open/closed AND to get toilet paper. Weird! Little did I know we’d be seeing these techno-savvy loo’s later on too. We ate at the lake and it was hot and sunny… beautiful scenery though. I started playing Sukodu and it was easy but fun.
We got dropped off to walk 3 hours of the Kepler Track, a path that went through 2 hours of forest around the very blue/green river. I love the forests here! So much green! I was actually near the front of the group for the hike but I’d rather have gone slower to soak in the sights more… but this wasn’t a hike with super amazing scenery so it’s ok. Then we walked 1+ hours around Lake Te Anau in the hot sun and it was not enjoyable!! Finally we made it to the beach and the bus and had an hour there to chill. I found a bathroom, downed 1.5 nalgene’s worth of water, and bought another paua shell bracelet since mine broke last night! I LOVE these bracelets, I wish they were more durable… I’d wear them all the time!
We camped at a bushcamp in Fiordland NP, near a nice marshy river with mountains in the distance. Unfortunately I had to cook dinner tonight, the 2nd time in a row we were at the most scenic places with river swimming and I had to cook! I chopped up peppers and helped tidy up for stroganoff, meat/peppers/onion stew over pasta, bland until we added bbq sauce.
It’s nearly 10pm and still light out! I love it! The sun is down so it should be dark soon. I guess it’s like how Alaska sometimes has full days of sunlight because it’s so far north, and now we’re at the bottom of the South Island.
The next day, I woke up at 8:30, left camp at 9am. We stopped during the scenic ride to Fiordland NP/Milford Sound at the Mirror Lakes, which reflected the surrounding mountains. So pretty! Then we drove through the Homer Tunnel, a long dark 3000m descent! Pretty neat. A bunch of people from the group went cycling from here, and one of them hit a rock and wiped out on the gravel, so we stopped for a half hour to clean him up. Poor Mike! His arm and hand were bleeding badly, yet somehow he left later on for the 3-day hike. Wow.
We made another stop at The Chasm, a really cool rock formation in a river in the forest. There was a quote from Thoreau on a sign nearby but I didn’t catch it. It’s so relevant though because lately all I can think about is what he said about everyone going ‘to the beat of his own drum,’ and how it completely fits my life right now. Not to mention, I’m surrounded by nature.
Finally we reached Milford Sound, a beautiful inlet in the fiords, formed by glaciers. It’s surrounded by mountains of course, which have been carved out by those glaciers. Our group took a cruise through the sound. It was so windy but the view was amazing. We saw a few coves and sailed out to the Tasman Sea before turning around. On the way back, we saw a bunch of fur seals laying on a rock. So cute! And we also went right up to an extremely tall waterfall going down the mountainside, so close that we got a bit wet. It was just so beautiful! Mitre Peak is supposed to be one of the tallest peaks coming from water. I’m so glad I didn’t get sick on the boat! I felt fine wearing the wristbands.
We dropped off the Routeburn Track walkers around 4:30pm and I have to say, I’m happy I opted out of it. Hiking doesn’t make me happy especially if it’s uphill… unless it’s on level ground through someplace extremely pretty.
We set up camp at a holiday park in Te Anau. It’ll be nice not to have to take down tents tomorrow. It’s gonna be a lazy day. We had stirfry for dinner without enough veggies so it was broccoli and melon and mushrooms with rice. I got to watch the Simpsons tonight too. I miss TV!
The following day was – at last – a day of rest! I woke up at 9am after 10 glorious hours of sleep, thankful not to be on that hike. I ate some cereal and walked into town around 10 to browse the shops. There’s not much in Te Anau! I went online for a bit and cleaned out my mailbox etc and ended up at a Mediterannean store that sold lots of organic foods. I bought grapes and potato-flavored chips and ate lunch in the ‘park’ aka some grass behind a gas station.
The rest of the day was spent laying on various spots along the lake, probably getting burned again. It wasn’t too hot though, just warm and breezy. It doesn’t get too hot or sunny til 2pm here, the equivalent of our heat peak of 12pm at home. I did some more Sudoku but it’s really easy for me so either I got a cheesy edition, the game’s not meant to be hard, or I’m just too good. Lake Te Anau is nice though, I can see Mt. Titirua and other mountains around it. There are a few sea planes and boats but barely any swimmers.
I went back to our site and hung out with whoever was around until we went into town for dinner around 7. We ate at The Ranch bar and grill, upstairs by the bar and pool tables. We sat 4 to a table all in a row. I sat with Jackie, Rich, and Cath, the 30-somethings. They’re all interesting characters, especially Rich who’s quite funny and has good music taste. It was great because they played the cheesiest pop videos EVER on the tv screens there, I’m talking Britney and Christina and Mandy Moore and ATeens. It was great! What wasn’t so great was the meal. I ordered a chicken salad for $16.50NZ [~$12-13 US] and it was the dinkiest thing ever, like 1/2 the size of this page! I know I’m used to huge American portions, but that’s ridiculous! Needless to say, I was still hungry and ended up ordering a bowl of fries.
The adults stayed and drank awhile, but I headed back before 10. Apparently they had a pool tournament, $20 pp, and Jackie and Coral beat Neil and Dana.