Stunning South Island of New Zealand

Trip Start Oct 26, 2007
Trip End Oct 26, 2009

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Monday, February 18, 2008

I flew from Auckland in the North Island to Queenstown in the South Island on Feb 18, and spent about a week based in the lake side town of TeAnau.  Lake TeAnau is the second largest lake in NZ, after Lake Taupo, which is smack dab in the middle of the north island.  Camilla, Patrick and I drove past that on our way from Wellington to Mount Maunganui a couple of weeks ago.  Lake TeAnau is very pretty.

The whole of New Zealand is an outdoor lover's dream.. mountain ranges, dormant volcanoes, lakes, beaches.  People are friendly.  I keep on marveling at how "easy" things are here.. no hassle, no waiting, no worries mate.  If ever there was a country that deserves the motto "The Way Life Should Be," New Zealand is it!

I've been taking part in the recommended viewing and touring of places like the Glow Worm Caves, the Milford Sound, the lakes and the hills.  As my continuing good luck would have it, I made a friend on the two hour bus ride from the airport to TeAnau. 

Phoebe hails from Taiwan, and is spending a year here on a working/holiday visa.  She's been picking cherries, and had some in her bag to share.  They were delicious!  We didn't feel the time passing before we arrived at our destination.  29yr old Phoebe was staying at a backpacker's lodge in shared accommodation.  44yr old Marie was staying at a budget motel, complete with kitchenette, yeeha!  Finally I can make my own meals!  This eating out of every meal is getting old.

Phoebe and I met up to explore the Glow Worm Caves together. The tourism in this part of New Zealand (and the others, it must be said) is really well done.  The tour guides are knowledgeable and friendly, and there's a real ease about it all. 

So we boarded our boat with about 40 other people, and made our way out onto Lake TeAnau towards the underground caves.  The group was split into four smaller groups, and Phoebe and I were in the smallest and last lot to go into the caves. 

Glow worms do just that, glow! they hang from the limestone ceilings of the dark caves.. and they only glow when they're hungry!  We saw a gross-out film, that showed various glow worms eating other glow worms, and various insects.  We also were sufficiently scared to keep our hands inside the boats as the sting of a glowworm contains paralysing chemicals.. that would keep you numb for a bit!  haha.. no worries there, I didn't want to be slimed by one of them.  Of course we were dripped on by water while in the caves, and but for the fact we were told it was pure and very clean water, after having made it through the limestone that purified it, I would have been doubly grossed out to think mucus from the glow worms was dripping on my head!  Pigeon poop in Katmandu and now glow worm guano in TeAnau New Zealand.. I should think about starting up an organic shampoo company!

Phoebe came over for dinner later that day, and brought her laptop with her, to show me how easy they are to use.  After extensive market research, I have decided to buy one in Australia.  (The market research involved me asking my tour guide yesterday whether things were cheaper here or in Australia.. I suppose if I thought about it a bit I would have worked out that larger Australia has more purchasing power, and can offer more variety and better prices.. but it didn't hurt to ask!)  I want to write more regularly, than the limited and varied settings of assorted internet cafes - as fascinating, and interesting as they are!  I've learned more about local customs and habits by spending time in local internet cafes.  I didn't realise most laptops also have built in cameras.. so I can SKYPE to my heart's content.  I'm a very slow starter, that's for sure.  It's taken me four months to figure out some very basics to traveling.. but they're all good basic learning points, and considering I've still got a long way to go, I'll benefit from some changes.

The glow worms were great.. and the next day I joined a day-long trek and tramp tour of Milford Sound.. a beautiful area of fjords and majestic mountains.  We had a lovely guide, Adrian, who reminded me of a young Jeremiah Johnson, or Grizzly Adams!  He had a beard, but more than that a real gentle, knowledgeable way about him.  There were six of us in a little van that Adrian drove us for two hours to a beautiful mountain trail, where we hiked for another two hours.. the weather has been non-stop glorious here.  Adrian had brought tea and coffee in thermoses, and cookies (bless him!) so we had a nice stop at the top, before heading back down to the van.  We then drove to the boat that was taking out onto Milford Sound.. and spent the next three hours oohing and ahhing over the most beautiful scenery.. I'll load up the photos and let them speak for themselves.
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