Te Anau, Lake Manapouri and Doubtful Sound
Trip Start Nov 16, 2005
36Trip End Apr 11, 2006
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After breakfast we set off for Te Anau which is 167 km from Queenstown and is on the 2nd largest lake in NZ. It is said to be the "walking capital of the world" due to tracks such as the Keplar Track, The Milford Track and The Routeburn to name but a few. Catherine and I, having had a picnic lunch by the lake, decided to do some of the Keplar Track - we did a three-hour walk along the side of Lake Te Anau - the full walk would take us three days, with overnight stays in huts along the way - you have to book these stops in advance and they are all serious tramps!! On our walk we heard the most beautiful singing bird - the takahe - they were rediscovered in 1948 having thought to be extinct. We could have also gone to see the Glow Worm caves but we do not like glow worms.
It was a most beautiful sunny day and we wished we had arranged to do the trip to Doubtful Sound today but it would have been impossible to get there in time, unless the car had wings!! We arrived in Manapouri at about 4 pm and while we were sitting outside a cafe having some tea, a couple arrived who had just done the trip to Doubtful Sound - they told us what a wonderful trip it was and whetted our appetite for our own trip.
Just to backtrack - New Zealand's Fiordland has been designated a World Heritage Site - there are three fiords, known as Sounds - Dusky, Doubtful and Milford - Milford is the most well-known and the most used by tour operators. We were told by New Zealanders to do Doubtful Sound as it is more varied and not as overcrowded - this meant taking a boat across Lake Manapouri, a bus over the Wilmot Pass and a ferry out through Doubtful Sound to the open sea through the fiords. You are always at the mercy of the weather due to the high mountain ranges in the area.
We booked in to our B&B for the night - Freestone BBH - we stayed in the owner's house which was great - having prepared our own dinner we watched some TV and chatted to a young girl from Germany who was cycling around NZ for 5 months!! She was able to recommend places to stay and things to do on the rest of our trip - a great help. This is one of the bonuses of freelance travel - you meet up with lots of people and swap ideas and tips with them. We had to be up early the next morning as we had to be at the boat at 7.45 am for a full day trip!