Day 33 and 34 - Doubtful Sound and Glow Worm Caves

Trip Start Dec 15, 2005
Trip End Apr 02, 2006

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wow! The best part of our trip so far was the overnight cruise to Doubtful Sound aboard Real Journey's ship, the Navigator. We left yesterday afternoon and barely made it on time to board the high speed boat that would take about 60 passengers across Lake Manapouri, then by bus over the only gravel road leading to Doubtful Sound's wharf where the Navigator waited for us. This area is pristine. There are no homes on Doubtful sound for it is a National Park. There are some trucks that we passed by on the road that work for the Department of Conservation and lead to the hydroelectric power station. Other than that, nothing. It is far less touristy than Milford Sound and that is why we chose to tour it. Real Journeys operates a top notch cruise. The staff was professional and fun. The food was very good and they provided activities such as kayaking which we loved. It rained on us and it was cold but it was gorgeous. The photos tell a thousand tales. We cruised all the way out to the Tasman Sea where a group of sea lions kicked back on a huge rock island. We saw tons of waterfalls, some with 600 ft drops. We anchored for the night in a protected bay where we had kayaked and after dinner we attended an eco-lecture by Dolphin Dave on the flora and wildlife in the area. He was an expert on the bottlenose dolphins in the area and more. That night it had snowed on the mountain peaks and it was gorgeous that following morning. An hour or so after we raised anchor and sailed up the sound we were greeted by a pod of bottlenose dolphins and they performed for us by jumping in the air. It was a beautiful site. We had it all - sun, rain and snow, dolphins. It was a perfect cruise. We met some really nice people. We shared a cabin with another couple from England named Simon and Adele. They are touring NZ and are looking to settle in Wellington to work for a few years. We also met a very interesting woman from Minnesota named Kathleen who is a poet and told us of her adventures in Antarctica where she received a grant to meet with scientists and study what is happening down there and create poetry from what inspired her. At least, that's how I understood it. She was a blast to hang out with and we met her again after the cruise at the Te Anau Glowworm tour.

The glowworm tour was very interesting. We all took a high speed boat across the lake where the caves are. There are a series of limestone caves that are continually being carved out in the mountain by the water. We floated in a little boat up into a pitch black cave where there are little tiny bluish lights scattered all over the walls of the caves. These are the glowworms. When they get really hungry their stomachs secrete a bioluminescent chemical used to attract insects into their "web". Actually, it's not a web, but sticky striations that the worm gets caught into, just like a web. It was very magical and fairy like, and the rapidly moving water in the caves was a beautiful sight to behold.
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