We drove out of Queenstown following Lake Wakatipu to the south and then crossing over to lake Te Anau. In the town Te Anau we booked a ticket there for an overnight cruise on the Doubtful sound for the following day. It will unfortunately not include a stop at the underground power plant because it is closed for maintenance. We stopped in to the local wild life centre and managed to see some almost extinct birds; the Kea (a parrot type) and the Takahe (a flightless bird) which was brought back from extinction.
The night was spent in Manapouri at an old fashion campsite run by an old lady in an old fashion shop with old fashion cars. It started to rain for the first time on our holiday (218 km).
The next morning it cleared up and we had one of the unusual sunny days on the Doubtful Sound. As we had time to spare (our overnight cruise only leaving at 12.30pm) we did a walk around the campsite. We got a close-up look at the Morris Minor collection, accompanied by a friendly bird fluttering around us. We then checked out the pinball machines in the Game Room. Before leaving we also snooped around the Store/Office.
Doubtful Sound: First a boat trip across the lake to the power plant (currently closed for maintance). Then a bus over the mountain pass down to the fjord and then on a 3 mast 75 pax cruise ship for the overnight sail on the sound.
It was a lovely sunny afternoon and we sailed up all the side arms of the sound on the way to the open sea. In one of the closed off side arms, kayaks were lowered into the water and Rudy had a splashed around while Jamaliah joined the tender craft which motored around the main ship. Several small islands close off the sound from the Tasman sea. On one of these islands there is a colony of Fur Seals. Before returning back into the sound the captain stopped the ship long enough to witness the beautiful and unusual sunset (since it mostly rains in the sound).
The next morning we saw the sun rising over the mountains in another arm of the sound before sailing back to the jetty. You could see the clouds filling the pass and floating above the water at the power plant outlet.
At 11:00 we started the long trek up to the Milford sound and back. It was well worth the effort. The road up and over the pass has several nice vista points and the view of the sound, when coming out of the Homer tunnel (800 m), was breathtaking. The road is busy with tour buses and campers so Rudy had to stay alert. The long, but satisfying day was closed off at a DOC campsite on Lake Te Anau after 243 km. Again another sunny day.
The sand flies meanwhile had been busy. The night and the following day it was gritting your teeth and try not to scratch. It must have been the sand fly bites during the kayak trip. Rudy´s toes and ankles were very itchy. Jamaliah had similar problems. The itch was not so much during driving but more when walking and the socks rub over the bites, bbrrr….
Anyway we made it to Invercargill (223 km) with a lovely lunch stop at the old suspension bridge (1899) at Clifden and some ocean windswept views at McCracken’s rest.
In Invercargill we went straight to the Southland Museum which has a breading program for the near extinct Tuatara (a lizard type) which you could clearly see in the terrariums. Much better than the kiwi´s in Franz Josef who live in the dark. The rest of the museum was also interesting with a display of Maori artefacts and a detailed section on the 3 very small polar islands further south of New Zealand. They also have a section on Motorcyclist Burt Munro (movie The World Fastest Indian, 2005). The town itself has well laid out wide streets in a grid pattern with some 19th century buildings. It was however not very busy for a city centre. Maybe because the shops were all about to close (17.30). Raining again during the night.