Do You Think We Have Enough Gas?

Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
Trip End Jun 20, 2011

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Where I stayed
Te Anau Great Lakes Holiday Park

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Saturday, November 6, 2010

November 6 - Day 23

As much as Queenstown is beautiful and has a definite buzz about it, we were both pretty happy to leave our cramped campsite plus all of the toursts behind today to head off to the town of Te Anau - where we'll be organizing a trip to see either Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound. After finding a campground and setting up, we headed out for a walk around the laid-back, little, lakefront town. As we were walking along the waterfront, a Real Journeys tour booking office was right there, so we stopped in to get some info about tours. The girl that helped us was awesome - she helped us make our decision as to which tour we wanted to do and in addition, gave us tons of tips on driving routes, hikes, towns, and attractions for the rest of our trip.

Happy and proud of our quick decision and with our tour for tomorrow booked, we decided to do some take-out pizza from an Italian place. With hunger-induced crankiness close to rearing its ugly head, I managed to control myself while we shopped for salad fixings at the grocery store....gotta get those veggies! The night ended with a double-showing of Dexter at the Sleepervan Cinema....10-inch screen----WOO-HOO!!

Tomorrow morning, we leave early for the stunning drive up to Milford Sound.

November 7 - Day 24

Being the lazy, fake backpackers that we are, we woke up late and missed the 10AM check-out time for our campsite. The kitchen and bathrooms were both closed so we had to "freshen up" quickly around the van (i.e. deodarant and brushing teeth) and then headed to town to get some breakfast - a rare treat to reward our embarrassing slothfulness. Finished breakfast and fuelling up on coffee and on the road just before noon....the early bird catches the worm BABY!!

So the idea was to take our time heading out to Milford...the ride there is unbelievably scenic with lots of spectacular hikes and look-out points. Our tour was booked for 4PM and it's about a 2.5-hour drive, so we can afford to take it easy and make a few stops along the way. Happy with our stomachs full and the beats vibrating through our campervan after a half-hour of driving, Jill deicdes to do a gas-check and lets me know that we have a little less than a half-tank remaining. Suddenly, all the fun stopped and I let loose a string of obscenities directed towards myself that my Mom wouldn't have been proud to hear...of course, combined with a few punches to the glove compartment for additional effect. The words I read in our trusty Lonely Planet guide now appeared crystal clear in my head: "Make sure you fill up with petrol in Te Anau before setting off"... as there are no gas stations en route. @#$%$#$%^#@%$@!!!!!!!! Well, time for a testy discussion between Joe & Jill. Do we push our luck and see whether our campervan will make it 240 km there & back without getting stuck on the side of the road? Or do we turn back and waste an hour of our planned leisurely drive for the peace of mind of a full tank? Jill was leaning towards turning back and I didn't wanna be the idiot who insisted we drive on and then get stuck in the middle of nowhere like stupid tourists, so I begrudgingly and grumpily agreed to turn back. As it turned out, we would never have made it there and back, so I'm glad that Jill listened to me....ahem :)

We did actually have a little bit of extra time anyway and were able to make a couple of short but really nice hikes...Mirror Lakes and Lake Gunn...walking through a dense forest of tall, moss-covered trees. Very cool shapes and angles...lots of them fallen over. Once we got to the forest edge and reached the lake, we were treated to some very cool mountain & valley views. When we were almost at our destination, we had to go through this crazy dark, narrow, 1,200 meter long tunnel and exited on the other end with a view of a beautiful glacier-covered valley.

Finally making it to the Milford Sound check-in building, we were ready for our 2-1/2 hour cruise. Tough to give justice to what we saw without being there, but imagine cruising through this sound on a sunny, breezy day with stunning, steep, snow-capped mountains on all sides of you, waterfalls falling from over 600 feet high, seals swimming, huge rock-faced cliffs, and trees just clinging to the steep slopes with "scars" showing evidence of the frequent tree avalanches. There was definitely build-up to this portion of our trip and we both felt that it met and surpassed our expectations.

After the long day, we stayed out at Milford at a campsite that was INFESTED with crazy sandflies...every time we opened the door to our van, dozens of them would fly in! Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we each sacrificed a good deal of our blood to them. After we hashed out a very important debate about the parking angle of our van, we ate our dinner and chilled out in the lounge over a shared glass of wine. Then back to our van for the season 1 finale of Dexter....nice!

November 8 - Day 25

Up with the crazy, blood-sucking sandflies and off to take the slow & easy ride back to Te Anau. We stopped off for 2 hikes. First one was called The didn't really do it justice but it was pretty awesome...a river plunging through a narrow chasm of these huge boulders, carved out over thousands of years. The "hike" was a Herculean effort of 10 minutes, which is about my limit of energy expendability before noon. The second hike was Lake Marion, which was much tougher...a steady uphill climb on a rough path strewn with rocks, tree roots and stumps. I was pushing the pace a bit and Jill did well to keep up with my longer steps. The path took us through a forest, up rock faces, over a swing bridge (my nemesis!) and past a very cool waterfall. Hungry and tired, we arrived at the lake....surrounded by snowy mountains with the sun shining. Was an awesome spot to sit down and enjoy our picnic.

Arriving back in Te Anau, we decided to treat ourselves to steak tonight at a local pub. Have to say that the steaks were pretty disappointing, but I, for one, felt better afterwards when I came back from an 18-0 deficit to beat Jill in Nerts again. Although I don't think my string of victories is really doing me any favors in the big scheme of things. Hmmmmmmm......
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Laural on

Have I told you how much I enjoy reading your blog with my morning cup of coffee!!!
Thanks guys! Take care and lots of pics!!!

barry on


pictures look awesome - enjoy it all!

maureen patel on

Pics are wonderful, thik of us in cold Edmonton; Happy Christmas
take care, maureen

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