Is it even a Sound? Doubtful.

On Thursday we arrived in Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland!

The weather continues to be stunning. We go for a stroll along Te Anau lake in the afternoon. The bird life is very healthy along the track – you can hear the tui singing in the trees as we walk. There’s also a bird sanctuary with Kaka, Kakariki and Takehe. The Takehe were once thought to be extinct and now there are thought to be about 300 living in New Zealand. It was rather a special feeling sitting just metres from this pair as they went about their busy day of pecking about the grass…

We woke up very early on Friday morning and headed for Lake Manapouri to embark on a kayak day trip to Doubtful Sounds. We took a 50minute boat ride across to the West Arm Power Station, the largest underground power generation in the southern hemisphere. From here we boarded a bus which took us through the very scenic Wilmot Pass to the Doubtful ‘Sound‘ -really a fjord.

     a sound is a large sea or ocean inlet or a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land

      a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by a glacier.

Doubtful Sound is rather remote and is also the deepest in the South Island (421m). From the bus window as we descended we were treated to the lifting morning clouds on Doubtful Sounds. We reached Deep Water Cove around 9am where we geared up in thermals and life jackets with our tour guide. The three hour kayaking tour was very pleasant. The weather was warm and the water calm. We were treated to a pod of dolphins half way through. These dolphins were in sleep mode – one half of their brain sleeps while the other half keeps them swimming and breathing, which means no jumps and tricks so we kept our distance from the pod.  Looking up from the kayaks were vertical rock faces covered with beautiful native trees and ferns. The fauna grows directly on the rockface which are covered in a moss called Sphagnum – very cool stuff and without it, none of the plant life would be able to grow. Because it’s so wet in the sounds (rainfall average of 7-8m per year) you could see signs of several ‘treevalanches’ – when one tree falls it takes several around them as they intertwine while growing to help hold onto the steep sides…

Saturday was another early start – but with rain!! Perfect for another sounds experience. We drove the 2 hour scenic route to Milford passing through the Homer Tunnel (1.2km one way tunnel through sheer rock; built from 1935-1954; with interruption of WW2 and an avalanche).  The rain meant plenty of waterfalls around Milford Sounds – there are only two permanent waterfalls at Milford, thousands more waterfalls only occur when the rain comes (which it does 200 days of the year). This time we enjoyed the ‘sound’ – again it is really another fjord, by a cruise boat. The rain never relented but we ventured outside to view the spectacular waterfalls and more dolphins – this time they appeared fully awake and played near the boat…

Then on our return trip to Te Anau the waterfalls had gained more momentum…

On Sunday we needed to back track to Queesnstown and past Cardrona again to reach our next destination, Wanaka. As we left Te Anau we spotted a backpacker hitch-hiker, so pulled over to give her a lift. Turns out she was a police officer from Geneva, Switzerland. We swapped details and she is more than happy to catch up again when we make it to her city later this year -as a past ski instructor as well, she even said she could give us a lesson.

We made it to Windy Wanaka – our airbnb is very comfortable and also comes with two friendly dogs, Moose and Mango…

The first day we head for Mt. Iron (one hour hike – all uphill) – this gave us great views of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawera. After that we head out to the lavender farm (a suggestion from our airbnb hosts and a bit off the touristy list). Far less people out at the lavender farm but plenty of bees – Kadin got stung by one. But we enjoyed taking photos amongst the gardens there and after trying all the testers in the gift shop we leave smelling fragrant …

For dinner we have an old favourite… a cooked chook, coleslaw, sliced cheese and fresh buns from the supermarket and enjoy this meal on a picnic table overlooking the lake. We end up attracting a cute friend…

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After our picnic dinner we walked along the lakeside to enjoy ‘That Wanaka Tree’ …

On Tuesday we head out to Puzzling World early to beat the rush – we get there at opening and almost have the place to ourselves. I was super excited about going here as I remember going when I was 5… I think it would probably be better if I were 5. But we still enjoyed racing each other in the maze (again, the result remains unpublished!!)…

We spend an afternoon going for a drive around Lake Wanaka towards Treble Cone and Mt. Aspiring. We end up setting up on the edge of the Matukituki River reading our books -also trying to shelter from the crazy wind…

Have fun at work!

Gemma

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