Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
86Trip End Apr 01, 2012
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We drop our stuff off at the hostel in Te Anau, the hostel is called Bob and Maxine’s backpackers and is funnily enough run by a very friendly couple called Bob and Maxine
We continue along the road to Milford Sound, first we come to mirror lake where at times you can see the perfect reflection of the mountains. Not today as it starts raining, and continues raining for the rest of the day. This is a bit disappointing as the whole point of driving this road is to see the views and we can’t see a thing. We drive up the road to the Homer Tunnel which is a 1km tunnel through the mountain and we get an idea of what the views could be like. There are waterfalls tumbling down the rockfaces surrounding the road, clumps of snow and ice by the road side and the craziest road we have seen. We have to wait at traffic lights for 15 mins as the tunnel is one way and then drive through the mountain downhill until we get to the other side and face a very steep descent winding its way down the side of the mountain. A pretty surreal road even in the low cloud – maybe it’s best we couldn’t see some of the heights!
Milford Sounds is actually fiordland created by glaciers (another misnomer by the first settlers - the first settlers weren’t great at naming things, they either got things wrong, mistook the place they found for somewhere else or were extremely unimaginative e.g. Sandfly Bay is a popular name). So we were meant to be seeing steep cliffs surrounding us and waterfalls running down them. What we could see was absolutely nothing, so we decide against any boat trip but hang around for an hour to see if the weather will clear. It doesn’t so we face the return journey and cross our fingers that the weather isn’t the same tomorrow as we have booked an all day trip on Doubtful Sounds
We get picked up first thing the next morning and it’s a bit cloudy but a whole lot better than yesterday so hopefully our luck is in. We quickly realise that we are on a tour with several American families and so it’s going to be an interesting day at least. Especially when one guy seems to be determined to hit Jonny with his tripod at every opportunity – it may be because Jonny gets to the best photo taking spots first but if you snooze you lose.
Doubtful Sounds is not the easiest place to get to but that’s meant to be whole magic of it. First we get a ferry across Lake Manapouri which is a large lake surrounded by steep mountains and so is impressive in itself. This lake also powers the power station that we are about to visit. Not our usual activity in our travels but as its part of the tour we go along with it. The power station is positioned here as the water can fall from the lake 800m to the turbines at sea level and so can produce a whole lot of power. This power goes to an aluminium smelter that produces aluminium for Boeing. It’s a pretty impressive site when you understand the engineering that went into it and we see a little of this as we have another tunnel to go in. This time it’s a 2km tunnel underground to see the main factory hall