The road to Milford Sound

Trip Start Oct 18, 2010
Trip End Feb 20, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Te Anau

Tuesday 11th January 2011


I realised this morning that I have failed to describe Te Anau to my world-wide audience.  This is a small town with one street of shops, restaurants etc dedicated to tourism.  It is very pleasant to stay here the town being situated on the shores of Lake Te Anau.  You can walk around the lake, hike in the hills, kayak and generally enjoy the outdoor life.  Its main purpose in life appears to be to transport tourists to Milford Sound, a smaller version of Doubtful Sound.  As this requires a 5 hour round trip in the car or coach we are probably not going to do it.

Today we have lost the sun, it is dull, quite warm and at 0845 we realised it might be a good idea to get out of bed and do something, not quite sure what however, decisions, decisions.

In six days time we shall have been away from UK for 3 months.  On our return our chances of survival will be slim, the roads are so quiet here we often step off pavements without looking either left or right.  The kindly NZ folk, slow down and stop, wave us across and go on their way shaking their heads at another bloody tourist with a switched off brain.  Also we struggle to shop in supermarkets when we decide to do some self-catering.  Our basic life skills are fading fast.

Why are the roads so empty?  Easy answer; NZ is much the same size as UK, we have 56M people, NZ has 4.2M people (and 4.6M dairy cattle) with nearly 2M of those people living in and around Auckland.  Aucklanders are known as JAFAs - “Just Another F……. Aucklander.”

The people we meet down here in the far south have an independence of mind which is great, everyone has an opinion and happily exchange views without anyone getting angry.  This is also a very safe place, witness the following.  As I walked round the lake yesterday on my own taking photographs I found myself trailing a very attractive red-headed young lady also taking photos.  I realised I could look like a stalker so sat on a seat to increase the gap between us.  Young lady walked back gave me a cheery good-morning and asked if I knew how long it would take to get to the dam on the other side of the lake?  Explaining I was an ignorant tourist and had no idea she went on her way and seeing four ruffian young men stopped to ask the same question, the conversation proceeded thus:

Red Head;    “How long to walk to the dam fellahs?”

1st Ruffian;    “I can do it in an hour, you being a girl should take about two”

(Ruffians 2, 3 and 4 Guffaw at this witticism)

Red Head;    “Well now is that so, so its an hour for me and for you three hours - since you
                    would have to do it on all-fours!”

1st Ruffian;    “Ouch, Oh - Floored!”  (Edited for content)

2nd, 3rd and 4th Ruffians take the piss out of 1st Ruffian long after red-head has disappeared from view.

Notice she had no fear of the four ruffians and also was quite happy to approach a dodgy-looking tourist.  Equally notice that she is quite happy to walk alone in wild country.  When I say wild I mean it, country tracks here are not for the faint-hearted.  There is a track near here which takes 5 days to walk Each Way with no shorts cuts or alternative routes.  We saw two people who had come off this hike, they had had six days of rain to four good days, being Kiwis they were still cheerful and relaxed; a different breed of human being.


So we drove to Milford Sound.  The cloud cleared as we approached the mountains and a peerless blue sky appeared.  Once again I shall not attempt words, we drove through an amazing mountain pass, the top section being through a tunnel.  The pictures do the talking here.  These will also appear over the next week or so, look for photos with the “RtMS” prefix.

We did not take a boat trip as the wind was up to 40knots and we wished to hold onto our luncheon.
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