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Published: August 10th 2007
Got up with two major questions, 1) do we need to hire chains, 2) cloundless or thumping down? But I'm getting ahead of myself....
Part of the west coast experience is the glaciers. We pulled in late, grabbed dinner and asked where to get a good breakfast...Matheson Lake Cafe. We got up early (to be first at the cafe) that was outside of town but on the edge of a pretty little lake with the snow caps in the distance. A lot of places are closed for the winter and we couldn't figure out how this place could stay open, as we were the only ones there. No sooner had we got served then a bus of 50 backpackers showed up, really changed the atmosphere but fun to talk to a couple of the kids from various countries. We then headed to Fox Glacier. We'd been to Alaska so the glacier was not new, but the walk thru the rainforest was amazing and right next to the frozen glacier.
The drive on to Te Anau took us thru some very vast open country kinda like out west USA, but no wildlife...none. There is essentially none except for birds. We
pretended the herds of deer in the pastures was the wildlife. The south island is formed from plate tectonics and glaciers so there are many beautiful lakes. It was a cloudy day so I was not stopping at every turn, like the previous couple of days. There were many, many opportunities to get all the sheep in the pastures grazing in the forfront of the snow caps to the south.
We got into Te Anau to see a pretty sunset over the lake and town. We had bypassed the glow worm cave on the north island because of time, but there was also one on the shores of Lake Te Anau, so we signed up. It also gave us a night boat cruise on the lake. The trip into the caves was facinating. An underground river was made into a transport deep into the mountain to see the glow worms...really larvae stage of a fly that makes it's tail glow so the roof of the cave looks like a star constellation and insect fly into their sticky web to be consumed for a meal.
Some have been curious about our youth hosteling. We are staying in a YHA
facility here in Te Anua and it it very nice. We tend to get a double room ensuite, but have had several with shared bath. We haven't done the dorm arrangement, but may if we run low on money. The kitchens are fully equipped and the kids fix amazing meals that fill the place with good smells. The common area is a place to visit and pick up pointers for the road ahead or get on a computer to plug into the WWW. Outside there is always a nice patio with grilling or hottub.
We got up hoping for either a beautiful cloudless day or a day where it was really "thumping down" rain. That's supposed to be ideal for Milford Sound. But first we needed to find out if we need to hire (we say rent) chains for the tire. They had several of inches yesterday. Filled up with gas, got our morning "Long Black", found out they had cleared the roads so we were off.
It was really overcast and sprinkling as we drove...bummer, not what we want. The hard rain is supposed to be needed because of the zillions of waterfalls it creates in the
mountains. The cloudless days lets you see the mountain tops.
As we drove we saw a glimps of light at the horizon...was it clearing or closing in? There was a hard frost that the pictures do not fully show. But slowly the clouds went away and it was a perfect day. Mirror lake gave a chance to see the reflections of the snow caps. We stopped at an old hunting camp/store, now little museaum. It was fun to see who originally settled these parts. Then we pasted through a tunnel, that I can't image the reaction to the guy suggesting they blast thru the mountains. Afrter one picture post card after another we arrived at Milford Sound...Kiplings 8th wonder of the world.
We got a pointer from the hostel to use a small cruise line and small boat which proved to be the right move. It's down season so there were not a zillion people..it was gorgeous...again pictures don't cut it.
Did a few hikes and headed for home. Just got out of the valley and the clouds closed in again for some neat sunset shots.
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