Monday 18th May
The campsite was overrun with Frenchies! It was like being in Paris on a Saturday night out! However, a lovely little site, with a warm lounge and free wifi!!
Today we’ve driven to Te Anau to restock supplies (Stout obviously) and then up Milford Road for 75km where we’ve set up camp at Cascade Creek. The road from Te Anau to Milford Sound is 110km long and said to be one of the most scenic in the world. Unfortunately we saw a lot of cloud and rain on the way here, but this afternoon the clouds have gone and we’ve discovered we’re in a beautiful spot surrounded by mountains! There was a guy fly fishing in the river. Lovely! Cold though, I think it’ll be below freezing tonight, and this is sandfly central too. The forecast tomorrow is for sun, and we’re booked onto a day cruise on Milford Sound which promises to be spectacular! Excited!!
Tuesday 19th May
Brace yourselves! Here comes another “Greatest Ever Day!” epic!!!
We slept in a bit this morning, til about 8.15, which was a bit surprising considering the temperature! I’d asked Charlotte what the weather was like, and on raising the blind briefly, she just said “cloudy, we’re actually in the cloud!”. It wasn’t until half an hour later, when I opened the door to discover a beautiful crisp completely cloudless sky that we realised Charlotte’s “clouds” was in fact ice! On the inside of the bloody windows!!! -3 degrees! But what a perfect day! No wind, no clouds, and thick frost on the ground. Magnificent! We drove very slowly to Milford through jaw-dropping scenery – huge vertical mountains, lakes and waterfalls. It really is as stunning as they say. And then it was time for our Milford Sound cruise. On a mill-pond like surface we travelled the Sound and actually into the sea for two hours. Easily one of the biggest highlights of our year yet! Unbelievable beauty in the scenery! Apparently we had the best weather they’ve had for two months! (A couple of weeks ago they encountered a 190km/h headwind at one point!). I took 200 photos! Absolutely amazing! Totally blown away by it!
Following that we’ve stopped for the night at Gunn’s Camp on Lower Hollyford Road just off the main Milford road. A great little spot surrounded by mountains and with a river raging through. Perfect!
We learnt the Maori history of the sandfly today – apparently when the Maori gods made Milford Sound, one of them (a female of course) proclaimed it to be so beautiful that mere humans would see it and forget their own mortality. So she created the sandfly to keep people away! Bloody meddling women!! I stepped out of the van this morning, and my left hand, the only uncovered part of my body, got bitten within .087 of a second! Little bastards!!
We’ve just had half an hour of entertainment watching a camper van driven by Germans getting stuck in the mud at a very precarious lean! I went to offer my help and produced a classic cartoon moment, when the van just covered me with mud from its spinning wheels as I was pushing! That’s my last good deed!!
Wednesday 20th May
More rain and very low cloud this morning, completely hiding the views again, which just shows how lucky we were yesterday. Milford is one of the wettest areas of NZ, with 7000-9000mm of rain a year! The wettest, just further north, gets 16,000mm a year.
So we’ve formulated a plan, and made a long dash for Queenstown. Of course it was a beautiful drive, and the last part from Kingston, along the East side of Lake Wakatipu was brilliant, and another “must” road to cycle.
Queenstown itself really reminds me of a European ski resort, and we’ve already been up to the ski station at Coronets Peak for a nosey. Just a smattering of snow up there at 1100m, but it won’t be long before the season opens. I’m hoping we may get a couple of days skiing in somewhere…. We’re going to stay here for 2,3 or 4 days and enjoy this great town! Friday we’re doing the Shotover Jet Boat down the Shotover Canyon! Looks terrifying!!
Have started to consider a haircut, but at this time the only thing I have in mind is changing it to a Mohican…… And Queenstown seems just the right place to get a tattoo!!