After arriving kind of late into Te Anau last night, we slept pretty well. We got up and around this morning and headed north toward Milford Sound. The drive is pretty awesome, even to New Zealand standards. It starts through thick pine forests, then into a broad valley with waving grasses, and finally up into the rainforests and mountains. I did a little rock hopping river walk up to Humboldt falls on the way. It was good to get some exercise without hauling a child to do it.
In the second half of the drive, we reached the Homer Tunnel. The road leads into an area in which we were surrounded on three sides by sheer rock faces thousands of feet high, with the tunnel piercing straight into the mountains. The tunnel is just over a kilometer long. Traffic can only go one direction at a time because of the small size of the tunnel. It was a little scary to see the amount of water leaking in from overhead, but we made it safely through. Then it was a very steep descent into Milford sound. We reached it too late for a boat cruise, so we made a nice late lunch by the water. After wondering around the visitor center a while, we drove back to Te Anau in the early evening.
Next time we will plan a little better and make it in time for a cruise of the sound.
I had originally planned for us to do a day walk on a portion of the Kepler track today, but it seemed like maybe a low key day was more in order for today. So we took some time walking through Te Anau to do some souvenir shopping. We also found a great lakeside playground for the boys to burn off some energy.
After a little restocking of food supplies, we started the drive to Queenstown. Just outside town, there is a service road that heads up to the Remarkables Skifield. It is a very steep and winding gravel road cut into the side of the mountain foothills. We got to a lookout point about 6km up the road and from there could see south toward the lake and west toward the city of Queenstown. We saw a couple of airplanes landing, and we were actually looking down on them as they came in on approach. There were a few paragliders launching from the hill next to us as well.
We stayed at a rather expensive campsite ($65 for a patch of grass and a power outlet?). But, it is Queenstown, so I guess that’s to be expected. Liz got some unsolicited cooking advice from some random guy in the communal kitchen who seemed to think she needed some pointers on how to make a quesadilla. I’m a little surprised she didn’t brain him with the frying pan. And maybe a little disappointed.