Up early today, we got picked up at 6.30 for our trip to Milford sound, it’s going to be a long day ! First on the coach, front seats with a panoramic window….love it ! A few pick ups around Queenstown, certainly don’t mind that as it’s almost like a private tour and the sunrise over the lake was a beauty 😉
On our way on time, can’t be bad, two hours to Te Anau then we get a rest stop for half an hour. The coach followed the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu until Frankton where it turns right and after a short while without the lake in sight it finds the shore again. It’s a beautiful ride, the scenery is fabulous, it’s just a shame we can’t stop to take photos !!
After Kingston at the far end of the lake we carried on for a while before turning right towards Te Anau, you wouldn’t think it was possible for the road to get any better but it does !! We stopped for the promised half hour and hurriedly drank coffee and ate breakfast before being ushered back on the coach. Now for the interesting part of the trip says our driver !! Another two hours to Milford Sound and well be crossing one of the highest roads in New Zealand at the “divide” and passing through the “homer” tunnel one of the countries longest tunnels ! And while all this is happening the weather is getting worse, well we are heading to the west coast and it’s usually bad there. The average yearly rainfall in Milford is 7m as apposed to Otago’s slightly drier 300mm….hmmm, big difference !!
As you exit the tunnel your in a huge bowl shaped valley, the walls are steep rock, carved out by glacial ice, there’s a multitude of waterfalls pouring thousands of litres of white frothy water off every surface. The granite walls are green with lichen and moss and the mist hangs heavy over the brooding mountains, such a dramatic landscape !! The road twists and turns it’s way down to the valley floor by way of hairpin bends, testing the drivers skill at every turn. As we enter the valley floor we’re shrouded now by temperate rainforest on both sides and a swollen turquoise river runs over rounded boulders heading for the sea. This is Fiordland and we love it, yes we would have preferred a bright sunny day so we could take pictures without getting water on our lens but this is so dramatic !!
We were soon on the boat and ready for our two hour trip through the Sound to the Tasman sea beyond. Again the valley walls are steep and covered is moss and hardy shrubs, the water is choppy and the mountains look like shadows as the weak sun try’s to illuminate them for our pleasure.
We head out past a colony of fur seals and bravely step outside to photograph them before heading back in to dry off and drink hot coffee. We eat our packed lunches just as the boat passes through the narrowest channel, winds here can reach 240kmph but thankfully not today. Our captain took us to a few waterfalls, most of them higher than Niagra but without the sheer volume of water. He got really close to one, the front of the boat almost touching the rock, people were encouraged to stand on the front deck for photos and were drenched in seconds !!
Two hours, it really didn’t seem that long but before we knew it we were back on the coach for the journey home. I’m certain it would have been equally beautiful but I fell asleep until Te Anau and for the second half we were watching a movie. All in all it was a fantastic day, perhaps not the weather I would have wished for but we made the most of it, saw some fantastic scenery and thoroughly enjoyed our trip.
Well as expected here are a few photos…
From pink sunrises to brooding misty mountains, it’s got it all !!
Our second day off in Queenstown started a little slower, we got up about 8.30, ate, showered and sorted washing and it was nearly midday when we finally left the camp. We’d decided to go up the cable car, it was a nice day so we expected the views would be ok. They were better than ok, they were fabulous, what a view….Lake Wakatipu shining turquoise, the mountains glowing in the sunlight and you could see for miles !! We got off the cable car then walked up as far as we could, fantastic, we took loads of photos knowing full well they’d all look the same ! After an hour or so we made our way back down and headed for the waterfront for lunch and beer. We found both in the Irish pub, no surprise there then. After lunch we had a few jobs to do, I needed my shoes repaired, a new phone as my ancient iPhone 3GS has finally given up and Naomi wanted to look for a dress as it’s her birthday soon. Jobs completed, time to shop for dinner before heading back to chill out, but first an ice cream from the legend that is Patagonia ! There ice creams are fantastic as are there chocolates and just about everything else they do !!
Dinner was pizza, salad and garlic bread and with that done it’s time to pack ready to leave for Cromwell tomorrow, but first the usual photos from our rest day in Queenstown….
We’ve fallen in love with this town, it really is quite beautiful !!
So next stop Cromwell, about 65km of what turned out to be beautiful riding and a couple of new friends !!
We cycled out of Queenstown and followed route 6A towards Frankton, the pavement is a shared one so we were able to stay close to the lake on the way, got some nice photos !!
After Frankton we carried on to Lake Hayes, route 6 now, quite a busy road by New Zealand standards but with a decent shoulder so not to much trouble. We passed by Lower Shotover on our way, a nice bridge and river so more photos. As we reached Lake Hayes we could see some great reflections of the hills in the still waters so out with the cameras yet again. Now while we were there we spotted two cyclists struggling to heave there laden recumbent bikes up from the bank. They turned out to be two Hungarians called Zita and Arpi. Now Arpi in thanks for my help dragging them up the loose gravel path set about helping Naomi with her garmin. Neither of us has ever been able to use it properly so it was fantastic to see it finally do more than record mileage !!
It turned out that this fabulous couple set off to cycle around the world a week after getting married, so there actually on honeymoon and have been for two years, eight months and when we met them, ten days, not that there counting !!
They’ve covered about 28,000km and have travelled through about 28 countries…….brilliant !!
They travel very frugally and therefore when we told them that we’d be at the Top 10 Camp Site in Cromwell that night and that if they found us there we’d pay for them, they were very happy.
We bid them farewell and set off hoping we’d see them again. We soon passed by the famous A J Hackett bungy, it all takes place from the Kawarau suspension bridge. Great place even if your not jumping as they have a very good cafe, gift shop, toilets and viewing platform, of course we stopped for a coffee and a few photos !!
For the rest of the ride we followed the gorge and were mainly in wine country so we were surrounded by vines, it really was a great day. We found the camp site, pitched our tents and headed round the corner to the cidery for a cheeky pint or two, very refreshing !!
We’d only just got back to camp when Zita and Arpi arrived, we duly paid for them and Arpi went off for his first “hot” shower since god knows when….very happy man !!
There was a party of school kids staying at camp and Zita tried very hard to get us there unused ice cream after there dinner had finished, no luck with the ice cream but we did get some chocolate cake from the teachers and parents, big thanks !!
So what a great day, I suppose you’ll be wanting to see some photos then…..