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In sandfly habitat

Manapouri, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Wanaka

semi-overcast 18 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

After two weeks of touring the South Island we started turning Northwards. Our first stop was at Lake Manapouri. After a pleasant lunch in the sunshine, sheltered from the wind, we took a hike along the lake shore. The lake is beautifully set surrounded by mountains. We considered ourselves lucky to see it in sunshine. With the wind the lake was white capped.

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While the lake in Te Anau did look very similar, the town is certainly much more developed and more touristy. After a couple of days of staying at rather basic campgrounds, it was time for luxurious campground again. We enjoyed all amenities: the jumping pillow, wifi, hot showers, a large kitchen and a very comfortable cozy TV lounge.
Most likely all of those luxuries were the cause for our late start heading off to the Milford Sound. But maybe we were just a bit lazy that day. We did not get far before being stopped by the police – just like every other vehicle leaving towards the Sound. We’re not absolutely sure what the reason for the controls were. At least in our case, the officer exclusively checked if Max was restrained in an approved child seat (thanks again, Carol!) and if I was buckled in in my middle seat as well. We were all ok and allowed to continue without further ado – contrary to the busload of Asians in the other lane.
The landscape we passed through, reminded us a lot of the Alps – but without all the villages you’d have every couple of kilometers in Austria or Switzerland. It might have looked like that maybe some 100 years in the past.

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The Mirror Lakes were beautiful indeed. It was just important to make sure that the ducks are not in the way of creating the perfect reflection with their ripples on the water.

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We had planned to hike to Key Summit along the first kilometers of the Routeburn Track. For the first part through the wonderful native forest it was still cloudy. Once we reached the treeline, we were greeted by sunshine and enjoyed beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

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After that highlight of our day, we continued the drive to Milford Sound. Luckily, we were heading there so late in the day, that we were not bothered too much by the traffic. At the traffic light before Homer Tunnel there was not even a line in front of us. Luckily the tunnel is one-way only. Despite the missing traffic on a second lane, it is still quite an adventure, considering how narrow, steep and badly lit it is with water dripping down all along.
The tunnel delivered us right to the lower end of the Cleddau Valley headwall and from there the road twisted and turned losing altitude quickly and eventually opening up to the Milford Sound. By then the initial sunshine had disappeared and we wandered beneath heavy rain clouds along the foreshore of the Sound (which actually is not a sound, but a fjord). Our guidebook specified three typical views of Mitre Peak. I'm afraid we missed the 'best' scenario in bright sunshine. But at least we even got to observe the 'mystic' Milford turning into the 'rainy' Milford.

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By the time, we reached the boat terminal, it started drizzling, so we opted against a cruise. We decided to head back in the rain to our home for the night, at the Cascade Creek campground. At the wait for the traffic light at Homer Tunnel to turn green, we even got to see some keas, the famous mountain parrots.

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We parked in the spot we had reserved earlier in the day, but were not too impressed to realize that some other campers must have exchanged our anyhow dilapidated camp chairs against their even worse ones. The friendly round-the-world travelers from UK and USA that parked close to us claimed not to know anything about the chairs, so we decided to believe them and to rather join them in lighting a fire in the rain.
The next morning, the changeable weather was fine again and after a hike to Gunn Lake through an ancient gnarly forest, we enjoyed the nice drive back to Te Anau.

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From there we continued our journey to Queenstown. The drive was nice and there were only few other cars on the road.

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In contrast to the drive, Queenstown itself greeted us with a major traffic jam – probably the worst we’ve had since Yellowstone. At first, we assumed that there was a festival or something special going on, but the cashier at the supermarket confirmed to us that this is just what Queenstown is like. Passing through town, we noticed hordes of people forming long queues outside the restaurants and were happy that we had opted for a campground outside of town at Twelve Mile Delta.
Twelve Mile Delta is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu along the road that leads to Glenorchy. That is also where the Routeburn Track ends, part of which we had hiked a couple of days earlier. We had driven 258 km to get to the campground from our last base at Cascade Creek – even though the direct distance is merely 44km.
The campground there is not only a good base to explore Queenstown, but is also nicely set along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. In addition, it features one of the filming locations of Lord of the Rings just a few minutes of hiking away. The Ithilien camp, where Frodo, Sam and Gollum watch a battle with Oliphants, was turned here. We tried to find it, but quite frankly it did require some imagination. For sure it is another good reason to watch the trilogy again at some stage.

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Despite the fact that we’re simply no city people, we do like to wander in towns from time to time. E.g. we had really enjoyed the couple of days we spent in Perth or Sydney. But a crowded town, full of tourists is definitively not at all what we enjoy. Consequently, we passed through Queenstown without further stops (except those caused by the heavy traffic).
After a quick stop at the Shotover River to see one of the jetboats pass by, we headed to the Kawarau Bridge. This is where AJ Hackett started the first commercial bungy jump in 1988 from the then 108-year-old bridge. We enjoyed watching not only the people jumping, but also those cheering from the viewpoint next to the bridge. Sam was tempted to give it a go. After seeing that this would lighten his wallet by 195 NZD, he decided that for that money he’d be able to rent a motor bike for a couple of hours which seems a much better value vs. the thrill of a couple of moments.

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On our way towards Wanaka, we got to drive along a nice river gorge, see some of the Lord of the Rings scenery, passed by the remains of former goldfields and orchards and vineyards.

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We immediately liked Wanaka. We found a parking spot right next to the lake. As it was very windy, we were happy that the skatepark was set back a bit vs. the lake. While Max worked off his energy, we took advantage of having a fairly good network connection to upload some pictures and another blog entry.

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Eventually we headed off along the shores of beautiful Lake Hawea. The 6km gravel road to the Kidd’s Bush Campsite was definitively worth the effort. We were rewarded with a beautiful spot, got to do some people watching and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the lake.

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Talking with the camp host, we realized that there were so many locals around, as they enjoyed a long weekend. On Monday, February 6th New Zealand is celebrating Waitangi Day, their national holiday commemorating the Treaty.
Many people had arrived with their boats in tow and they were taking them out onto the lake. Some just for fun, others trying to catch some trout or salmon and others pulling their kids or friends behind on waterskis, couches or inner tubes. And despite the campground being full, there was a really nice atmosphere - especially as the sun started setting.

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A beautiful spot indeed... And while it would have been very inviting to stay there for another night, we wanted to take advantage of the excellent weather forecast for the next day to get over the Haast Pass and to reach the West Coast.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 21:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged lake cruise bungy waterfall tourists sound pass jetboat hole fjord sandfly

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