A Travellerspoint blog

Day 66: Tuesday 7th May 2013

Hello Wilderness

sunny 17 °C

We woke early to the sound of our alarm, breath visible in the campervan so I rolled over switched the little heater on full and pressed the snooze button, a little luxury I had planned by setting the alarm 10mins early.

We got up and shivered our way through breakfast before heading down to reception to meet the bus, which had just arrived. Our guide, a great down to earth kiwi guy in his 50s, quickly made us feel at ease and the bus was on its way. After picking up a few other travellers we started to head towards Milford sounds.

It was clear we had been very lucky. The rain from two days ago and then clouds from yesterday had cleared and it was stunning blue sky's and the sun was starting to cut through the frost melting it off various plants. The scenery was literally steaming before our eyes. We stopped at so many scenic views en route we were spoilt, beautiful picture postcard moments... Repeated. We visited a smaller mirrored lake which were so clear you could see the wood at the bottom near our feet, whilst the mountains shimmered in perfect reflection on the lake surface in the distance. These are apparently the smaller cousin to the actual mirrored lakes up north.

A good few hours driving later we had envied some incredible views, having spied glaciers, snow cover mountain peaks, rolling hills of green and grey, spotted local and foreign trees and shrubbery. We even stopped by a clear river and followed the guides lead in dunking our water bottles in the river to drink the fresh water. The clear ice cold water was unbelievable, so pure compared to our chlorine filled tap water. It was literally delicious, and a surprisingly liberating experience drinking straight from nature.

We arrived at the boat jetty and climbed onto our boat for the trip. Milford sounds already looked special, a great blue lake surrounded by giant snow tips mountains. With water falls flowing along the mountains and steep drops into the water. The mountains at their highest were over 1800m above us. It was so deep, apparently twice as deep as loch ness and the rock faces meant the depth increase dramatically, almost vertically. the height of the mountains totally warped our perceptions of size and the 160m water fall looked small. Along the mountains were New Zealand beech trees, which need very little roots and interlock together so they can grow along the mountain. Unfortunately they take a long time to grow as they only seed every 5 years. Which meant that at points were whole acres of the trees had lost their grip and literally slid of the mountain, left a scared jagged edge of rock to contrast the emerald green.

The two hour trip was over very quickly, we sailed out of Milford sounds, touch the ocean and then back again. All so quickly we started the return journey. Which was more stunning scenery and stops along the way to enjoy the view.

We arrived back at about 5pm and dropped our things off before walking into town. It was been such an amazingly beautiful day that we wanted to eat out at a restaurant we been recommended and taste the local venison. We entered the restaurant which was a converted house, enjoyed a delicious bread starter and then I tucked into soft pink venison with sweet roast kumara potatoes (gold sweet potatoes), whilst Sarah enjoyed pork belly with scallops and pineapple and chilli mash. It was stunning, a lovely round off to one of the many great days if our tour. With the end coming ever near, we reminisced and talked about the trip, as well as our excitement at seeing everyone again. It's funny, many people, strangers and close friends ask us how we feel about coming home. There is an expectation we should feel sad, but we don't feel like that. We are eternally grateful to have enjoyed such unbelievable experiences, we don't feel sad about our return. In fact we are excited, its another chapter, ok it might not be blog worthy, but it is exciting none the less.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 16:25 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 65: Monday 6th May 2013

Tour booking, lakes and a pub called the Duck

sunny 10 °C

We got up a bit later than normal today, it had been a cold night and the ground was covered in frost. Making it rather difficult to get out of bed. I braved it earlier and did some exercise, much to disgust of my fingers, who protested at being put within the cold grass whilst doing press-ups.

We paid for another night and did some research into the options for Milford sounds. Te anau is the nearest town to Milford sounds and there are a variety of tours, or alternatively you could drive there and pay a smaller amount for the cruise. Thankfully because it was close season there was a tour operator offering the bus service and cruise plus lunch for buy one get one half price, including lunch. Which actually on some quick maths was cheaper than driving the 240km round trip ourselves.

After booking we wondered into town via the beautiful lake, enjoying the splendid views of the mountains beyond. We wandered through town getting a feel for the place. It was really cold and we could both see our breath as we walked.

We stopped for lunch in a cool, and more to the point, warm looking pub. The pubs here are much more friendly and inviting, with more character than those in Australia. So a long budget lunch later we exited having done a good few hours work, on various projects for when we return home.

Afterwards we returned to the caravan park and settled in for the night. Enjoying a light dinner and an early evening in preparation for our even earlier start in the morning.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 16:23 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 64: Sunday 5th May 2013

A good day for a drive


It was time to say goodbye to the Scottish themed town. It was a good day to do it too: it was pouring down with rain. The only draw back of moving on during such conditions is that you don't get to witness the magnificent views at their best. Never the less we took the scenic route between Dunedin and Invercargill and managed to glimpse the wild beauty of the coastline, despite the low cloud and heavy rain!

We stopped for lunch and a couple of loo stops and saw virtually nobody until we passed through Invercargill. We pushed on and arrived in Te Anau just after dark, we checked into the campsite next to the lake, although in the darkness it was difficult to make out what the town was really like: exploring could wait until the morning even though the rain had subsided. We were delighted to find a really warm and comfortable communal kitchen and lounge area at the campsite where we cooked tea and then watched the first x-factor New Zealand...unsurprising it was pretty much the same as the UK and Australian version but offered some light entertainment before we headed off to bed.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 16:22 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 63: Saturday 4th May 2013

Market Stalls & Ravens

sunny 17 °C

We woke up early today and headed down to the farmers market in Dunedin. We like the farmers markets where you get all manner of local fair. We tried the usual local produce of cheeses, condiments, beers and fruit. We actually bought a coffee and a pie from the local farmer. The pies here are immense, packed with high quality meat and the pastry just mouthwatering. All this for about £2, a bargain. We bought some fruit and veg and Sarah enjoyed a sweet crepe.

After brunch we headed to the pinnacle where we went for a walk in the beautiful countryside. The walk took us down through overhung woodland tracks and out into a picturesque beach scene in the countryside with absolutely no one in sight. We took some pictures and started the very steep incline circling the large hill/mountainside. Half way up we stopped for tea and cake.... Actually it was water and fruit, but still the idea was there. What we lacked with culinary delights we made up for with scenery. It was amazing, we could just make out a solitary figure on the beach a good few miles away.

Afterwards we continued to climb and meander through some impressive farmland until we came to a track which lead to the road. Sarah got a fright at one point, jumping and gasping at the very dangerous New Zealand hedgehog, who was enjoying some sun by the roadside. It worth while pointing out that the day whilst a little chilly was glorious sunshine. Without a cloud in the sky.

Back in the van we headed to the royal albatross centre across some impressive up hill and down dale country roads. The centre was set up to help protect the breeding colony of royal albatross, who can have wingspans of up to 3m. It wasn't cheap and on arrival it was $5 each to enter the centre and a further $40 each to get up close and see the birds. Anyhow the centre was enough for us and we learnt all about the bird and the dangers of fishing can cause the species. Once out we went to a look out and had a look at the the bay and surrounding sea, this area was not normally associated with where the albatross live, but you never know. To our amazement, pure luck and delight we spotted a giant bird out at sea, which a few moment later took flight. It was rather majestic even though we were a distance away. The seagulls which were in the vicinity of the giant bird were mere spec by comparison. Happy and content we went back to van and headed home, for a relaxing evening (after some much needed exercise).

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 16:19 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 62: Friday 3rd May 2013

Chocolate, trains and umper lumpas

sunny 13 °C

We got up fairly late after a cold night and went into dunedine for a stroll. Viewing some of the iconic building which at 100 years old are relics by New Zealand standard. H train station is exceptional and apparently the most photographed building in dunedine.

On the way back into town we went via the Cadbury chocolate factory tour. The factory as overtaken by Cadbury over 75 years ago and was previously a biscuit manufacturers. The tour was fascinating, we went through the different processes, from getting the cocoa, to grinding, to emulsifying and then mixing then cooling etc to create the chocolate. A very complex process indeed. Or guide was a student who was very good with the kids but clearly had enough of his job and slightly ironic about the factory, which only added to the humour of the tour. We got to try many chocolates. Regularly having to fight off the kids, to get a bit. Annoyingly we had to wear hair masks, which was unflattering enough, but then I had to wear one on my face as well, because I hadn't saved. I looked like a cross between a doctor and Hannibal lecture. All in good faith though as no one wants to find jarvis hair in their chocolate bar.

It also went into the history of the Cadbury family, which got our entrepreneurial juices flowing in full force. At the end we bought some nz specific chocolates called Jaffas, not to be confused with the cakes, which our guide uncouthly said were horrid.

The tour finished with a giant chocolate water fall, which lasted a good 30sec and splattered pretty much everything including us with chocolate. All good fun.

After the tour we headed back to town and bought some winter attire, namely the very cheap down jackets we had seen the day before. Followed by whiling away the afternoon in lonely planets top pick cafe. It was a lovely end to a relaxing day.

We found a much cheaper campsite over the other side of town near the peninsular where we were heading the next day. The facilities ironically much better as well.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 16:12 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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