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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: -45.3193, 166.994
This was another magical experience on a very comfortable and well run small cruise boat with about 70 people - NZs, Ozzies, Americans, Germans, a French couple and Brits. It took a while to get to the boat by coach from Te Anau to Manipouri, a ferry across a lake, another coach over the Wilmott pass to the cove where our boat was waiting. We spent 24 hrs on it, with fantastic food and a comfortable cabin, drifting slowly through the mists and rain of Doubtful Sound, before heading out to the seal colony on rocks in the mouth of the sound. We need to experience the rain - typically it rains almost every day , 8 meters of rain a year-to understand the vegetation and wildlife. Josh gave us a running commentary all day and evening so we could absorb the wonders of this most islolated part of NZ . This is Fjordland National Park without road access, just a few tracks penetrating the rainforest and fjords opening to the sea. I (Liz) got into a small boat at one point, some others canoed, in the pouring rain, to get up close to the vegetation hanging on to
the cliffs for dear life and liston to the birds. Towards sun set the rain finally stopped and the sun finally came out to warm us up as we headed out to the rough sea splashing over the rocks at the entrance to the sound. Here, with the sails up on this motor cruiser we experience Cook's dilemma in the Endeavour - a boat of similar size- when he judged he couldn't safely sail into the narrow sound and later sail out again directly into the prevailing westerly winds. Early in the morning we were roused by the rattle of the anchor being raised and then by an alert from Josh that a pod of dolphins was playing around the boat - magical. Our return journey was dryer, though still with whisps of cloud and mist for atmosphere, much experienced when we floated with engines off in silence.
That night we stayed at Te Anau on a Top Ten campsite with the Camper Vans having spent the early evening visiting the glow worm caves. This involved another ferry trip speeding across the lake and an explanation about the glow worms. The magical ten minutes was when we were sat on
a boat with 10 others pulled by a rope in total darkness through caves hollowed by the rushing water making a din. The glow worms lit the ceiling of the cave with their twinkiling glow, like stars.
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