Our South Island Adventure - From sunshine to rain

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March 2nd 2010
Published: March 3rd 2010
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Driving to Manapouri

We wake up this morning to finish the Southern Coastal Route to Te Anau and then head onto the Milford road to yes Milford. This is also where I get the brilliant idea to take pictures while I am en-route to my destinations (all good until I nearly lost all my pictures and now that they have been retrieved they are all in a mess and I have difficulty remembering which bit was which, I will expand a bit more in the next post) as the surrounding environment was always so beautiful. It became a bit frustrating at times for hubby as he was never sure if I wanted him to stop so I could get a better picture but if we stopped everywhere we would never get to our destination! Anyway....

So our first stop is Riverton Rocks, and you will have to excuse us if we were not sure if we were in the right place as it was so hyped up as a must see but basically it is really just some rocks on the beach. OK admittedly it was a lovely seaside spot and I am not sure at which point we became picky in the places we had to see. You drive along Rocks road with beautiful views out to sea until you reach Mores reserve where there is a beautiful view to Stewart Island. Hmmm there were more than one island so we were not quite sure which one to look at ooops!

Afternoon Riverton we made our way to a very neat little place called Cosy Nook. It was made extra special as we were the only ones their so it really felt cosy. You enter by the usual gravel roads they have in New Zealand to visit most sites and it is funny as they have signs reasuring you that yes this is a public road and you can follow it right to the end because this area does yes feel that remote and so small that you become unsure of where you are going. All you will find here in terms of civilisation is a few 'cottages' which I believe are remnants of small fishing shacks which are now used as holiday homes. The are is very rocky and romantic with the crashing waves and behind you are rolling fields and yes you have to share it with the sheep! It was a great moment to sit and reflect and then take hundreds of pictures of course. It was definitely one of our favourite stops along the way and trust me the competition is stiff.

We then had a short break at McCracken's rest to enjoy the views of Te Waewae Bay which had been spectacular just on the drive there as the wind was blowing the sand from the beach high onto the crest of the ridge above making it look like a great mist or fog. Then we went to see the Clifden Suspension Bridge considered an engineering feat as it is the longest suspension bridge in New Zealand. It offered great views of the surrounding area and the Waiau River.

We only stopped in Te Anau for petrol as there is not petrol available in Milford (we were advised of this in the guide book and there is a huge sign reminding you of this before you start on the Milford Road) before stopping in Manapouri for lunch. It was a lovely sunny day looking over Manapouri Lake to the mountains munching on some chips and a cheese sandwich lovingly prepared by hubby from our Camper facility!

Milford Road

We now had the afternoon to devote to the Milford Road in the sunshine no less. It must be noted here that downpours are not uncommon with an average of 6m or more of rain a year! So we thought we better make the most of it today. The views along the way are amazing and it is click click with the camera all the way. Like the guide says though do not just enjoy it through your windscreen but get out the car to enjoy it and that is definitely what we tried to do. A two hour drive turned into a three hour journey and the closer we got to our destination of Milford the cloudier and graver the sky became.

Our first stop was for views over the Eglington Valley surrounded by shear mountain peaks. We stopped at the Mirror Lake which was unfortunately not 'mirroring' well for us as it was late afternoon and there was a slight wind but it was a great opportunity to view the surrounding area anyway with a short boardwalk from the road. Then driving through Homer Tunnel is a little bit freaky as it is basically just roughly hewn from the rocks and very dark, yes you have to remember to turn on your lights but the kiwis are very kind to provide you with a sign to remind you of that before hand. It was worth stopping before going through the tunnel (we had a 15 minute wait anyway as it is single lane traffic with a controlled traffic light) to admire the frozen ice surrounding it with magnificent waterfalls.

After safely making our way through the tunnel we stopped at the Chasm with no real idea of what we were going to see except that it was an excuse to get out of the car, it was signposted and it would only take 20 minutes. Actually it is the possibility to view a bit of the work by mother nature as the Cleddau River plunges through eroded boulders in a narrow chasm...pretty cool really!

Well sure enough the weather seriously declined by the time we reached Milford but we still made our way into 'town' or 'village' for a walk. There is actually not much in Milford except for the port with access to all the boat trips out on the Sound (or should I say fiord because that is what it is officially really). The Sound itself is breathtakingly beautiful even with the clouds that had descended to cover the peaks of the mountains. Actually I guess the weather made it all the more romantic (it is with these thoughts that I manage to ignore the fact that I am being eaten alive by sandflies even though we doused ourselves in insect repellent) We new as well that with rain it usually meant more waterfalls to see once you get on the water so we were not too anxious about it all. Milford is also a very busy place and we were very pleased that we had booked our accommodation in advance as it was one of the view camp sites which were fully booked on our arrival.

So with such thoughts we head back to the camper to an early night before our boat trip tomorrow.


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