Queenstown and Te Anau0
Audrey posted in Travel on October 30th, 2006
Someone else had purhcased our tickets to Queenstown so we had just a paper copy. I became convinced that we would travel with ET airlines. Fortunately I was corrected before rolling up at the check in desk. ET was in large print but stands for Electronic Ticket, somewhere in the small print which cannot be read by anyone over fifty it said Air New Zealand!
The flight was via Christchurch and on to Queenstown on propellor driven aircraft . The run into Queeenstown over the mountains with a 63 knot headwind was likened by Audrey to stepping from cloud to cloud. I thought it was like sliding down stairs on a tea tray. We picked up our hire car which had a different control layout to the ones in the UK and spent two weeks using the windscreen wipers every time we wanted to indicate a turn.
A visit to the tourist office got us an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound which seemed better than Milford Sound just because it was harder to get to. A drive to Manopuri ,then a trip across Manopuri Lake and a coach trip on a road which could not be reached by road (all vehicles got there by barge) down to Deep Cove and our overnight boat.
The accomodation arrangements on the boat seemed to be everyone under 25 was in 4 berth shared cabins and everyone else in twin/double cabins.
The evening consisted of a gentle cruise in the sound and nearly out to the Tasman Sea to get close to some seals on a rock.Somehow we were able to get just a few feet from the rock in quite a swell without being shipwrecked. The overnight ancorage was inland and much calmer. Before nightfall we had the option of kayaks,swimming or a nature watch on the ships tender. Obviously we took the least energetic one which was a close look at waterfalls and the trees growing without soil on the bare rocks. This was also our first introduction to the local menace of sandflies, bigger and hungrier than midges.
The water in the sound is interesting as there is up to 3 meters of fresh water on top of the salt water so it is realy a lake floating on the sea.
There is some technical distinction between a sound and a fiord but the scenery was of near vertical walls and very deep water in narrow valleys.
In such a remote area there should have been lots of native birds but they were relatively scarce being predated on by imported pests like possums and stoats.
The next morning was another cruise ending up at Deep Cove for our return journey over the mountain and lake. We had met some locals who get early season discounts and they persuaded us to take the drive to Milford Sound after our boat trip. Billed as the most spectacular drive in NewZealand It would have been a shame to miss it.
This was a drive into the hills and through a mountain (Hermons Tunnel) to get to Milford sound.
The tunnel was finished after the second world war but the road inside did not seem to have been resurfaced since,that and being not much bigger than a London tube tunnel made the trip interesting especialy as there were no lights in the tunnel. We did’nt do a trip on Milford sound as we had to get back for bedtime. On the way back there was one of natures rock gardens set amongst avalanche boulders as big as busses. This was only marred by the weather and a fear of getting in the way of the next avalanche.
The photos are here.