20 January 2011

Lake Te Anau & Milford Sound

The beautiful Lake Te Anau
After a night in the rainy Catlins (where the green rolling hills are very pretty but there's virtually nothing to do) we drove through Invercargill and arrived at Lake Te Anau. Although it lacked the immediate impact of the turquoise Lake Tekapo, it was very beautiful and the town reminded me of Banchory: quiet, friendly and picturesque.

Miles Better Pies: yes, they are!
Following the advice of our trusty guidebook, we ate at Miles Better Pies, which certainly lived up to its name. I had a tasty pepper steak pie that could easily have fed two people. In fact, every place we've been in New Zealand, we've had massive food portions (and who am I to complain?!)

One of many Milford Sound waterfalls
The next morning, we drove through the mountains on the famous 119km Milford Road. The scenery was just incredible and we stopped several times to take it all in. One place we stopped at was The Chasm: where a river runs through eroded rocks and falls down a narrow chute. Waterfalls either side of the winding road made it hard to focus on driving, as did the swooping parrot-like birds, which we later learned are called Keas.

Sleepy sea lions
As our luck would have it, as soon as we arrived at Milford Sound, the rain started lashing down. The area does get 6m of rain annually, so we weren't that surprised. Along with scores of other tourists, we were forced indoors, where we recharged all our gadgets and booked a trip down the famous Milford Sound for the following day.

Directly underneath the Stirling Falls!
Rudyard Kipling described Milford Sound as the eighth wonder of the world, and after we took a cruise along it, I can see where he was coming from; it really is stunning. Because of the previous day's rain, there were hundreds of temporary waterfalls streaming down the huge rock faces. Although Mitre Peak (one of the world's highest mountains that rise directly from water) was covered by cloud, we did see sea lions lazing on a rock and had a very close encounter with the 146 metre Stirling Falls. As Pam and I eagerly prepared to take a photo from directly underneath the waterfall, the boat moved closer into the spray, resulting in a brutal clash of heads and a good soaking!

Soaked through!
Sea lions and waterfalls in the stunning Milford Sound
The ferocious Milford Sound sand flies were as annoying as Scottish midges, but they didn't detract from a really fun day, which was made all the better when, during a pit stop on the drive back to our campsite, I entered a pool competition at a pub in Te Anau... and won! The prize was a $50 bar tab, which we split with the friendly locals.

We are now heading to Queenstown, where I'm trying to work up the courage to do a bungee jump. Pam, on the other hand, is working up the courage to watch me do it!




  1. There's no shame in changing your mind about the bungee jump! Scenery looks stunning. xx

  2. Sorry that both the Catlins and Milford Sound have lived up to their rainy reputation! Better luck with the weather at Queenstown and (specially, because we prefer it!) Wanaka!


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