I think the sizable dose of codeine found in the over-the-counter cold medicine I was taking last week (no prescription needed here in New Zealand!) was dulling my senses and making my introduction to this country seem less than spectacular.
I look back on my blog post highlighting my somewhat blasé attitude about New Zealand and I have a new found appreciation for the beauty and splendor found here. Our tour has continued as we rounded the bottom of the South Island heading toward the Fiordland National Park. Along the way we saw beautiful things – at least when the weather cooperated.
We eventually found ourselves trapped inside our campervan in the town of Te Anau due to torrential rains and gale force winds. We had intended to visit Milford Sound but the rains and winds closed the road to get there so we could no nothing but sit and wait.
For two days we cozied up in our camper eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, watching The Lord of the Rings movies (when in Rome) and waiting for a break in the weather.
We spent a lot of quality time in the little lakeside town of Te Anau which serves as the gateway into Milford Sound. It is essentially as far as you can go when the road is closed due to weather.
Milford Sound is a fiord within the Fiordland National Park and is New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination. The nearly 3 hour drive from Te Anau to the fiord has some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet – unfortunately we were unable to see much of it due to low-hanging rainclouds.
The waiting game we played in Te Anau paid off in that we enjoyed a beautiful sunny day aboard a sightseeing boat while visiting the fiord. It was the first time in over 10 days that there was a break in the rain. One of the many benefits of being there right after the rains is seeing countless temporary waterfalls (falls that dry up when it isn’t raining) all along the fiord cliffs.
After leaving Milford Sound we made our way inland a bit to visit Queenstown – which is considered the adrenaline capital of New Zealand…and maybe even the world. There are over 200 different adventure activities you can participate in while there – rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking, jet boating, skiing, sky diving, fly fishing, etc.
We spent one day on a 100-year-old vintage steamship. The trip across the lake afforded us with amazing views of the surrounding mountains.
Once across the lake at Walter Peak we climbed on mountain bikes and spent the day pedaling through the gorgeous countryside – some of which was used as film locations for The Lord of the Rings movies.
The next day I gave hang gliding a try!
It has become quite clear on this trip that Glenn and I have different ideas of fun. My ideas of fun usually involve a liability waiver (e.g., Bolivia’s Death Road and The Skylodge or the”pods of death” as Glenn called them). Glenn’s ideas of fun usually involve interpretive signs about old gold mines, museum exhibits and quirky coffee shops. We balance each other out nicely, I think.
I once had a pilot’s license and have ~100 skydive jumps under my belt (many, many years ago), but I’d never tried this mode of flight before.
Here is a short video of the hang gliding adventure…
I think it is safe to say the New Zealand is quickly growing on me! Next we head further up the west coast in search of glaciers and interesting rock formations. Maybe my degree in geology will come in handy! Thanks for following along.
Interested in reading more about our travels in New Zealand?
Too much of a good thing? (New Zealand, Part 1: Christchurch to Southland)
Rain, rain…go away! (New Zealand, Part 3: West Coast, Kaikoura and Wellington)
Farewell to Middle Earth. (New Zealand, Part 4: North Island)