Te Anau to Milford Sound

Trip Start Jan 22, 2013
Trip End Mar 18, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, February 7, 2013

If it's the 7th, we don’t know what day it is. Oh well.  We changed plans a bit yesterday and decided to still stay 2 nights at Milford, on Milford Sound instead of tonight at Lake Manapouri.  Did I already say oh well?

This morning, after filling our gas tank and getting our "flat white" coffee to go with a date scone, we went on the Te Anau glow worm tour.  Took a nice 9 am cruise for 30 minutes across the lake.  Sunny day again.  We entered a cave that was found by the Maori’s but was lost until 1948 when a guy that sailed around the lake found it based on Maori lore.  This cave was formed from limestone and sandstone.  Te Anau-Au means “cave filled with swirling water”.  And it really is.  We had to crouch down to enter the cave, out of which flows a pretty strong current of water.  Inside the cave it’s about 15-20 ft in diameter, but often less, and at one point was about 75 ft in height.   The walls are 5” horizontal stripes of light and dark stone which were created over 12,000 yrs of water action wearing away at the layers.  Sorry, no photos allowed.  They installed steel walking platforms ( a feat in itself) that we hiked up for about 500 ft following this stream of rushing water that carved out this cave.  At one point, our group of 14 climbed into a flat bottom boat.  Our guide used a chain link cable across the ceiling of the cave to pull us hand over hand along a dammed up portion of the stream.  No lights, no sound except for the waterfall.  As we made our way upstream about 150 ft., the ceiling of the cave was about 5 to 10 feet above our heads.  Attached to the ceiling were the worm larvae.  The head of the worm glows like tiny fluorescent pinheads.  It was like we were looking at constellations in the night sky because the worms clustered themselves in groups.  The larvae are about 2” long and extend fishing lines about 2” down to catch waterborne food attracted by the glow.  When caught the larvae eats the food.  They live for about 10 months only.  This was definitely a highlight so far.  www.realjourneys.co.nz

Afterwards we drove 3 hrs north to Milford where we took the cruise out into the Sound for 2 hrs.  The mountains here drop right into the sea.  It’s hard to find words to describe the sheer beauty of this area.  This is why this World Heritage Site is called the Fiordlands

Afterwards we stopped at the only hotel/bar and talked with a British couple who live in Sydney.  We talked for quite a while about the Routeburn Trek hike they took today, and just like last  night, compared notes on their travels and ours.  This is our life now.

And then we cooked our NZ salmon, broccoli, and potatoes in our camper, with a little NZ Marlborough Sound chardonnay.  Tasty!  NZ is known for its sandflies.  Nasty little fly’s so we spent the evening enjoying the valley view of 5-6,000 foot mountains peaks in our typical NZ campground.  This camping experience is one that is special to Europe and down under I believe.  It’s just refreshing to see people sharing their stories around common things like food, lounges, showers, and bathrooms.  Yup!

And we made another change to our plans.  Rather than go kayaking on the Milford Sound, we’re going to go back and hike 2-3 hrs on some of the Routeburn Track, drive to Lake Manapouri.  
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