We are now in the town of Te Anau in Fjordland in the very south of New Zealand.
We have just had a nice meal in a restaurant called The Ranch which is located at the top of the main street. It is a restaurant for serious red meat eaters. On our arrival, we were greeted by a young man wearing an orange T-Shirt and jeans. He had a hairstyle that would have looked at home on a surf beach and appeared to be about fifteen years old. He was not lacking in confidence and was clearly very competent. He confirmed every decision that we made as being ‘awesome’.
Then a young lady who displayed a lot of cleavage acted as our waitress and told us that everything was ‘cool’. She clearly has the same fashion designer as my niece. We asked her which description had a higher level in the approval pecking order between her use of cool and the young man’s use of awesome. She left us totally perplexed when she introduced another expression – ‘as sweet as . . . ‘ Clearly, this has a much higher level of significance than the other two.
We are still uncertain as to which adjective is best to use, although there is is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that in Te Anau, the accepted plural of you is ‘yous’. Every young person uses this term. I would gave spelled it as ‘youse’ but Jill and the people on the next table (who I surveyed) reckon that the correct spelling doesn’t have an ‘e’, nor an apostrophe.
So far our travelling through NZ has been awesome. The weather has been cool although it has been getting increasingly fine as we travel. Our first night at Timaru was fine but on the afternoon that we drove to Mount Cook, it was wet and rainy. It cleared on our second morning and we had an enjoyable drive to Queenstown across the Crown Range, but it was raining steadily again by night time when we arrived in Queenstown.
The next two days that we spent there were fine and bought back a number of memories. On our first trip, when the kids were little, the site along the side of the lake where our hotel is now located, was then a caravan park. In those days, it was a long way out of town. Now, it is the location of a number of boutique hotels and multi-million dollar houses. I can remember our first experience on the Shotover Jet Boat which was a thrilling ride through a narrow Gorge. David was only about nine or ten at the time and every time the jet boat driver took us close to a rock outcrop, David would shout out ‘idiot’! Well after all these years, the idiot seems not to have crashed the boat and has given lots of people a very thrilling time.
It’s hard to think of any Australian location that can be used as a comparison for Queenstown. It is unique with it’s thrill seeking venues for bunge jumping, white water rafting, jet boating and other adrenaline producing activities. On the other hand, it has so many scenic places, not to mention it’s history with gold mining, sheep farming, and early exploration / settlement. Queenstown is one of the ‘must visit’ places in the world. We took in the views from Bob’s Peak at the top of the chairlift and from the Coronet Peak ski fields. We spent a pleasant afternoon at the old gold mining town of Arrowtown, and fitted in a few hours of shopping. It’s interesting to note that the old Queenstown central shopping area is now so tourist focused, that there are virtually no shops that have any value to the local residents whatsoever. The local people are now serviced by a smart new shopping precinct at Frankton by the airport. Yes, the same airport where David and I were met by our private pilot who flew us down here to Te Anau on the first time that I walked the Milford Track.
We reached Te Anau at lunchtime yesterday. We spent the afternoon pottering along part of the road to Milford Sound. This route is exceptionally scenic and has many splendid opportunities for great photos.
Along the way, is the famous Te Anau Downs sheep station. This is the place where people who ate doing the Milford Walk start their trip with a boat ride to the head of Lake Te Anau. There were no walkers as we passed, but wr did find ourselves in the middle of a mob of perhaps 1000 sheep that were being driven up the main road to a new paddock. Trying to drive through them was like trying to swim against the tide. All we could do was to come to a stop and let them pass. I don’t think that I have ever seen a mob of sheep as big as this before. They were bring hurried along by a number of people
On quad-bikes and motor cycles with the support of about a dozen hard working dogs.
We drove along the road to Lake Gunn and then made the return trip to Te Anau. At about the place where we turned around, there was a large field of wild lupins. These are common along the southern roads of New Zealand and make for a pretty sight in their blues, pinks, purples, reds and occasional yellows. The local conservationists hate them as an introduced plant, but the tourists love them.
Today, we were up early to go on a full-day trip to Doubtful Sound. Unlike going to Milford Sound, where you can drive yourself, the trip to Doubtful Sound can only be made through an organized tour. Starting from the kittle town of Manapouri, the tour begins with a one hour boat ride across Lake Manapouri. This has very little ‘wow’ factor. On landing, the tour continues with a visit to an underground power station – the largest hydro electric power station in NZ. Although an impressive piece of engineering, I found it hard to get very excited about a set of seven generators that are remotely controlled from a control room several hundred kilometres away.
The tour then continues with a bus ride over a road especially built to bring equipment into the power station, this deposits you at Deep Cove at the head of Doubtful Sound. I was particularly impressed with Peter, our driver, who was very well spoken, articulate, and with a very sound knowledge of local fauna and flora.
Similar to the cruise on Milford Sound, the cruise part of the tour takes people along the sound to the Tasman Sea and return. Doubtful Sound is much bigger than Milford and has some spectacular scenery. However, I think that the close-quartered scenery of Milford is more stunning. The approach is certainly shorter and more interesting. However, we had a great day and it was interesting to see and to be able to make the comparison.
Tomorrow, we are off to Invercargill and perhaps another experience in local vernacular.