. So we set off but first we wanted to have a pit-stop in a place called Arrowtown. An old gold-mining town, Arrowtown still has all its old fashioned shops and buildings and looks like something out of a Wild West movie. However when we got there we quickly realised that apart from a nice bakery which did lovely sticky fruit-buns, there was absolutely nothing to do here. We couldn't even get any nice photos of the high-street with its old fashioned shops because everyone had parked their cars in front of them. So after some a trip to the old-fashioned sweet shop (Hubba Bubba and free tastings of fudge, yaaay) we got on the road. In order to get to Milford Sound from Queenstown you have to drive in a huge U shape through the hills and mountains. Milford Sound is part of the Fiordland National Park and is in essence the same as the Marlborough Sound which we went to when we first arrived in the South Island; a huge mountain range which has broken up and spread out into a long corridor down to the sea. However many people consider Milford to be the most quintessentially 'New Zealand' place of all and taking a boat trip out into the Sound is consistantly voted the number 1 thing to do while your here. The drive over can be quite rough though, you have to go with a full tank of petrol because there are no stations until you return to Te Anau, in Winter you are not allowed on the Milford Road unless you have snow-chains and lots of coach trips depart from the nearest town of Te Anau to save you having to drive over there
. We arrived in Te Anau at about 5pm and headed to the Info Centre. Once there we discovered that the weather report for the next few days wasn't looking too great. Basically Saturday was the best day to do a boat trip because Sunday was forecast as heavy snow. As we didn't have any snow-chains we decided to start the drive up to Milford tonight, stay at a DoC campsite on-route and go on a boat trip first thing the next morning; that way we could still drive back to Te Anau before the weather turned on Sunday. So with our boat trip booked, our camper filled with petrol and our cameras at the ready we started the drive. The road to Milford is basically a single-destination 4 hour return journey; once your on the road the only place your going to is Milford and then back again. As we turned onto the road there were huge signs telling to watch out for bad weather and giving avalanche reports, which made up giggle nervously at each other, both wondering what we were letting ourselves in for. Just over an hour later we arrived at the DoC campsite, which resembled a clearing in the forest rather than a camp, but there were some other vans so we didn't feel too lonely. From the second we had left Queenstown that afternoon it had rained continuously all day and that continued all night. The cold weather must have been starting to get us down because we spent most of the night talking about things we missed from home and came to the conclusion that if we were at home now Tom would have a nice Chinese take-away and I would have a hot bath and a proper cup of tea... lets hope for some sunshine over the next few days or we'll end up getting really homesick!
Last night we stayed at a campsite on the outskirts of Queenstown in a place called Frankton. The people at the site were lovely and we stayed up way past our bedtime to charge all our cameras etc and watch rubbish New Zealand tv (a show about two female police officers in tank-tops and miniskirts was a particularly funny one). When we got up today we decided to spend a few more hours in Queenstown trying to get our blog up to date; Tom bought an offical dvd from his bungee which he tried to get online but unfortunately couldn't get it to work. We left Queenstown at lunchtime feeling really sorry to say goodbye to it because we have had such a good time and it has become one of our favourite destinations so far. However, what they say about Queenstown is true, we left with our wallets a whole lot lighter than when we arrived and feeling down right knackered! The next place on our agenda was Milford Sound, which although it is only a short while away geographically, thanks to the wonderful New Zealand road planners is actually about 6 hours away