Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2004

Milford Sound cruise and Queenstown

I woke up with the alarm going off at 0600 and jumped out of bed to switch on the two heaters in the villa, then promptly jumped back into bed again until the place would warm up a bit! I eventually surfaced for real at 0640 and went for a cooked breakfast in the hotel dining room. It was still dark outside. With breakfast out of the way, it didn't take me long to finish packing, load up the car and check out. I was soon on the famous Milford Sound road. At first, I wondered what all the fuss was about - it was basically just another road. As time went on, however, it certainly became more 'interesting' and was a good test of driving skill. I passed with merit , making it (legally!) in two hours rather than the forecast two and a half, despite lengthy 30kph sections due to roadworks and an unsealed surface, and a lengthy delay at the Homer Tunnel.

I booked myself onto the 1100 Red Boats sailing and it wasn't too long until I was able to board. Unfortunately, after a promising start, the weather had changed dramatically on emerging from the Homer Tunnel and there was a great deal of low cloud about. It was clear that it would burn off at some point; the question was when. Still, it did lend the fiord an air of mystery. Unfortunately, however, the famous Mitre Peak remained cloaked in mist. We sailed out to the Tasman Sea and were able to get a view of what the fiord looks like from the sea : deceptively like just another bay! As we sailed back, the cloud was really starting to lift and a visiting cruise liner was sparkling in the sun.

Back in the car, I retraced the morning's journey to Te Anau, again making it in exactly 2 hours despite a repeat of the morning's hazards plus, this time, that most typical of New Zealand hold-ups : a sheep run! I parked outside the little bakery that I had discovered the previous day and had one of their delicious date scones and a latte before heading off for the Te Anau - Queenstown drive. Once again, I made good progress, but stopped several times along the shore of Lake Wakatipu because the views were simply irresistible. I arrived in Queenstown at about 1730.

Having checked in at my latest lodgings, I immediately set off for the Town Centre on foot, so that I would have a chance to see something of the place before dusk. I knew I had another very long drive the next day and would not want to waste much time in the morning. It was much busier than Te Anau, but pleasant enough despite that.

I had a very nice - and somewhat unusual - dinner in the hotel's Impressions restaurant, comprising asparagus and sweetcorn soup (not a combination I had ever encountered before!), followed by poached salmon served on Pak Choy and crispy noodles.


Lake Wakatipu


Thursday 18 Mar

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