Day 5-7-New Zealand-South Island Road Trip

Tuesday 5th October-Thursday 7th October 2010

Day 5-Tuesday 5th October-Invercargill-Te Anua

First thing this morning we went for a shower near the clock tower in Invercargill. It cost $1 for the shower and you can also hire towels for $1. Staying in a camper van for 6 weeks makes you appreciate every shower that you get. I didn’t realise how good warm water could possibly feel! When we left England to come travelling we had to get rid of most of our possessions and we had to make sure we only brought the most essential things with us-as we had to carry it around for 10 months! This wasn’t easy at first, but as we started to get rid of things, it became easier and we started to realise that most of these things were not that important. I must admit however, I do miss dressing up:)

After showering we drove to th Bluff-which is the town in the most southern point of New Zealand. We drove up to the lookout there, where you can get a great view of the land.

We then drove back to Invercargill to visit the Museum and Art Gallery (found by the tourist information). We were able to see the Tuatara-which are only found in New Zealand.

The tuatara is a reptile endemic to New Zealand which, though it resembles most lizards, is actually part of a distinct lineage, order Sphenodontia.[2][3] The two species of tuatara are the only surviving members of its order, which flourished around 200 million years ago.[3] Their most recent common ancestor with any other extant group is with the squamates (lizards andsnakes). For this reason, tuatara are of great interest in the study of the evolution of lizards and snakes, and for the reconstruction of the appearance and habits of the earliest diapsids (WIKI)

Tuatara

Tuatara

Tuatara

Tuatara

We also went to Queen’s park, which is a fairly large park with an Aviary in it.

We set off towards Te-Anua at about 11am. This is 168 Km away, on the scenic route, which we took. The drive was extremley scenic, as is most drives in New Zealand. We stopped off at Calac Bay, Mullet Bay and Monkey Island. It is called Monkey Island, because of a Monkey Winch they used to pull the boats up on to shore. We walked over to the small island, where we were able to see a beautiful view of the snowy mountains across from us.

We also stopped at McCrakens Rest lookout. This is another great spot for viewing the mountains.

Beautiful view from our car

Beautiful view from our car

We continued our drive on to Te-Anua and on the way we came across a few fields with deer in. We walked over to look at them and they just stood and stared at us. They were extremely inquisitive trying to figure us out. As we walked closer they walked further. As we walked further away, they started to look back towards us to see if it  was safe.

Paul looking at the Deer

Paul looking at the Deer

They were so silent when they were watching us, and they all stood closely together.

We continued driving to Te-Anua. We got to Lake Manapouri at about 7pm.

Lake Manapouri is a lake in the South Island of New Zealand. Its name is Maori for “sorrowful heart”, though this name is misapplied due to an early cartographical error (the real Lake Manapouri was North Mavora Lake, which lies some distance to the east). Local Maori called Lake Manapouri Moturau, which means “many islands”. (WIKI)

They were going to flood Lake Manapouri for the use of Hydro-electric power. Luckily for everyone, locals and tourists, this didn’t go ahead because of campaigners. It would of been such a shame to destroy this beautiful area.

Manapouri

Manapouri

Paul-Lake Manapouri

Paul-Lake Manapouri

We got to Te-Anua at about 8pm. It was just a small town, but it had everything you needed, restaurants, shops, tourist info, supermarket, internet, laundry and beautiful surroundings.

Te Anau is a town in the South Island of New Zealand. It is on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau in Fiordland. Lake Te Anau is the largest lake in the South Island and second only within New Zealand to Lake Taupo. The 2001 census recorded the town’s population as 1,857. The town has a wide range of accommodation, with over 3,000 beds available in summer. (WIKI)

Te-Anua is the best place to stay when exploring Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park. We went to the tourist information briefly to find out about cruises of the Fiords and Milford Sound. We decided to wait till the morning to book our cruise, as we wanted to see what the weather was like.

One of the advantages of sleeping in a camper van is that you get to pick what view you want from your window. Tonight we slept with the view of snowy mountains from our window.

Day 6-Wednesday 6th October 2010-Te-Anua

We woke up this morning in our camper, to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains in Te-Anua. After getting ready we went to the tourist information to book our tickets for the cruise at Milford Sound. We decided we also wanted to go to the Glow Worm caves, so we booked a double package for a cruise of the fiords at Milford Sound and a cruise to see the Glow Worm Caves on the Te-Anua Lake. We were unsure of which one to do today, but decided we would go with the caves, as it looked a little cloudy outside. We are so glad we decided to do this, as later we found out from someone who did the cruise at Milford Sound, that it was so wet and cloudy that they couldn’t even see the fiords!

The package to see the Glow Worm caves and go on a 2 1/2 hour cruise of the Fiords at Milford Sound cost $14o each (£70). You save about $15 by booking both together.

The trip to see the caves wasn’t until 2pm. We met at the Real Journeys office, found next to the tourist information in Te-Anua at about 1.40pm. We were told to wear worm clothes and good shoes, because it can be a little cold and slippery in the caves.

The ancient maori name ‘Te Ana-au’ means the ‘cave with a current of swirling water’. It was this translation that led to the discovery of the Te-Anua Glowworm caves in 1948.

First of all we went on to a cruise boat, taking us over to the entrance of the caves. The journey over is also part of the whole package, as we were able to see the amazing views over the lake, of snowy mountains.

On our way over to the Glowworm Caves

On our way over to the Glowworm Caves

When we arrived at the caves we were led into a visitor centre, where we watched a short video showing the cycle of the glowworms life and a member of staff also gave us a brief history of the caves.

Lifecycle of the Glowworms

  • Eggs (20-24 days)-Each adult lays approximatley 130 tiny eggs. They hatch about three weeks later. Hatching occurs in all seasons but is most common in December.
  • Larva (9 Months)-As soon as it hatches, the glowing larva builds a nest and begins catching food. When it reaches 30-40mm, it covers itself in a protective skin and becomes PUPA.
  • Pupa (12-13 days)-Suspended on a long thread, the larva begins turning into an adult fly. Both males and females glow but the female becomes much brighter before she hatches, attracting adult males.
  • Adult Fly (1-5 days)-When it becomes an adult it’s only purpose is to breed die. The female usually dies immediately after laying eggs. The male lives up to 5 days after.

When we finally entered the caves, we were led by a guide. We were split up into smaller groups and left 5-10 minute intervals in between. The entrace to the caves is very low, and we needed to bend right down to get in. There is a hand rail that you can hold on to guide you through the caves. The caves are 6.7km deep. The 12,000 year old caves are carved from limestone rock which is over 35 million years old.

Unfortunately we have no pictures, as you are not allowed to take photos in the caves. This diminishes the effect of the glow worms.

After walking through the caves for about 20 minutes, we arrived at a small boat, that our guide led all 13 of us on to. The guide switches off her torch at this point, and tells us all to stay in complete silence. She pulled the boat along with a rope that was above her head. At this point we were able to see glowworms everywhere. This is such an amazing site, like stars in the sky. The atmosphere is amazing, as there is not a sound or any artificial light, just the beautiful glow of the worms.

Here is a picture to show what our boat ride looked like

Glowworm Caves

Glowworm Caves

I would definatley recommend a trip to the caves if you get a chance. It was a unique experience. We arrived back in Te-Anua at about 4pm.

It was a really nice evening, so we decided to go for a walk around Lake Te-Anua. We did a 1 1/2 hour walk. We drove around to the start of the walk, which is just a 5 minute drive from Te-Anua. The walk takes you through the Fiordland National park. It is a 60km track, but we just did a little part of it.

Lake Te-Anua-Kepler Track

Lake Te-Anua-Kepler Track

Kepler Track Walk-Sunset

Kepler Track Walk-Sunset

Day 7- Thursday 7th October 2010- Milford Sound

Today was a day we were both really looking forward to, as we were going to Milford Sound to take a cruise to see the Fiords. This is the number one tourist destination in New Zealand.

Milford Sound (Piopiotahi in Māori) is a fjord in the south west ofNew Zealand’s South Island, within Fiordland National Park and theTe Wahipounamu World Heritage site. It has been judged the world’s top travel destination in an international survey (the 2008 Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards by TripAdvisor) [1][2] and is acclaimed as New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination.[3]Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth Wonder of the World.[4]

We set off from Te-Anua at about 9.30 am to give us plenty time to get there, ready for our cruise at 12.30pm. They say to give yourself about 2 1/2 hours to get there, as the roads get quite windy when you get closer to Milford. Also in the winter you have to watch out for snow on the roads. We also made sure we topped up the car with petrol in Te-Anua, as there are no petrol stations on the way, or at Milford (apart from emergency petrol at Milford, which costs a fortune).

The journey to Milford is so scenic. We stopped a long the way at several places. Here’s some pictures of our journey towards Milford Sound.

Journey to Milford Sound

Journey to Milford Sound

Mirror Lakes

Mirror Lakes

This lake was so still, that you could see a perfect reflection on the mountains.

Kea Parrot

Kea Parrot

We saw this rare Parrot, known as the Kea, on our way to Milford. They are very mischievious birds, and like to pull at things.

The Kea (Nestor notabilis) is a large species of parrot (family Strigopidae) found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. Measuring around 48 cm (19 in) in length, it is mostly olive-green and has a large narrow curved grey-brown upper beak. The Kea is one of the few alpine parrots in the world. Its omnivorous diet includes carrion[2] but consists mainly of roots, leaves, berries, nectar, and insects. Now uncommon, the Kea was once killed for bounty as it preyed on livestock, especially sheep. It only received full protection in 1986.[3]

There were so many places to stop at along the way, but we had to make sure we got there on time, so we had to leave many places out. We arrived at Milford Sound at about 12 pm. giving us plenty time before our cruise at 12.30pm. The weather was amazing, hardly a cloud in site, we were so lucky, as Milford get’s a heavy down poor of rain and rains an average of 182 days a year.

We got on to our cruise at about 12.15pm. We decided to sit up stairs, in the open, to get the best view possible.

Our Cruise Ship-Milford Sound

Our Cruise Ship-Milford Sound

Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) or more on either side. Milford Sound was initially overlooked by European explorers, because its narrow entry did not appear to lead into such large interior bays. Sailing ship captains such as James Cook, who bypassed Milford Sound on his journeys for just this reason, also feared venturing too close to the steep mountainsides, afraid that wind conditions would prevent escape. Today between 550, 000 and 1 million visitors come to see the Fiords at Milford Sound, each year.

The cruise trip was fantastic. We saw so many beautiful waterfalls coming down the mountains. The fiords look amazing. I can see how James Cook didn’t venture out into the fiords, when you are going towards them, you would think there was no entrance to the fiords.

Here are a few photos of our cruise of the Milford Sound Fiords.

One of the many waterfalls at Milford Sound

One of the many waterfalls at Milford Sound

Fiords-Milford Sound

Fiords-Milford Sound

Ruth and Paul-Milford

Ruth and Paul-Milford

Baby Seal's

Baby Seal's

Waterfalls-Milford Sound

Waterfalls-Milford Sound

Penguin that we saw whilst on the cruise

Penguin that we saw whilst on the cruise

Waterfalls-Milford Sound

Waterfalls-Milford Sound

We have so many photos from the cruise, which I will put up into our gallery asap. We really enjoyed the cruise and would definatley recommend the Real Journeys company. The staff were fantastic and gave us commentary on the way.

On our drive back to Te-Anua we stopped off a few times and did a couple of short walks. There are so many walks to do, you could spend a couple of days there at least, doing walks around Fiordland National Park.

Paul standing on the snow

Paul standing on the snow

Paul-near Milford Sound

Paul-near Milford Sound

We got back to Te-Anua at about 7pm. We decided we would drive on to Queenstown tonight. This was another 2 hours drive away. Queenstown is extremely built up around tourism. It is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand and is known all around the world, for being one of the first places to home the bungy jump.

We parked our camper up near the waterfront, and took a walk around the town. Then we crashed for the night, as we were extremely tired.

More blogs coming soon on our time on South Island, NZ. Just to keep you all up dated, we are now in Christchurch, staying in a hotel. We get a flight to Auckland tomorrow afternoon. We will spend a couple of days in Auckland and then we fly to Quito on 21st October.

Speak to you soon

Paul and Ruth

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