Alright. Time for some serious catch up. I will try to be detailed and brief in this post.
Milford Sound: I Understand Why Lord of the Rings Was Filmed Here
Dan and I arrived in Te Anau on the 18th of December. This little town is just outside of Milford Sound, and if it weren’t for this spectacular National Park… I doubt anybody would go there.
The town was quaint and quiet and actually very pretty. It sat on a huge lake (like every other place we’ve visited recently) but didn’t have too many activities.
On the 19th, we woke up very early for our day tour of Milford Sound. Luckily, there happened to be a woman serving up fresh espresso out the back of her van, in the parking lot of our holiday park1.
Dan and I soon found ourselves in a van with 10 other guests and were on our way to the mystical land, not so far away.
The drive wasn’t terrible and our guide was spectacular! He was very funny and loved to talk, but not the type of conversationalist who you secretly want to shut up. He smoothly swayed between topics while pointing out local flora. For example, the Russel Lupin. I had recently announced it as my second favorite flower2 before learning it is considered an invasive species and chokes the waterways. Whoops.
About an hour and a half later, we were boarding a boat. This little cruise ride lasted two hours and would take us through Milford Sound and briefly out into the ocean before returning.
Needless to say, it was spectacular.
Luckily and unfortunately, at the same time, it happened to be a perfectly clear and sunny day. Apparently, Milford Sound is quite the sight when the fog sits on the tops of the mountains and waterfalls are seen falling from the sky. However, we were able to see the tip-tops of the gigantic formations and we even got to see some kekeno! (I’m curious to see if anyone will actually click that link to learn what a kekeno is…)
After the boat tour, Dan and I raised our hands for wanting to do the Key Summit hike. Six of us were dropped off and given about two hours before our guide would return and take us all back home.
Since it was a clear, sunny day, Dan and I were able to take advantage of the views from the top.
That night we were pooped. Our bodies sunk into the bed as our eyelids sunk heavily. We would have slept heavenly except we had some neighbors fighting.
Long story short, the Japanese woman was very upset at her Dutch boyfriend. She threw his stuff out into the hallway. Management came and the Japanese woman had a hard time understanding his accent. He calmed her down and wished for her to enjoy the rest of her time in New Zealand.
My favorite quote was during the fight, the Dutch man said as he pounded on the door: “I have good contacts! I am a Dutch man! I am not sexually frustrated like Japanese.”
Yeah, you shouldn’t have said that.
The following morning, Dan and I drove ourselves into Fiordland to explore some more sites. The weather this day had the cloud coverage we wanted to see. It truly makes this park look magical.
Dunedin: Choo Choo Train Ride
Dan and I drove along the Southern Scenic Route (New Zealand has 10 themed highway drives) towards Dunedin. We decided we could take our time and see some sights. Aside from an epic viewpoint over the most pristine beach and the Purakaunui Falls, there wasn’t too much sight seeing.
My favorite part of the road trip is when we pulled over in some odd town to look for food. There was, I think.. 5 houses? It was barren. BUT! We saw a sign for pie! (New Zealand really loves their meat pie3.)
We pulled into someone’s driveway and entered a little shop. Dan and I ordered two meat pies and one coffee. Soon, three more people were in the shop and the woman was sweating bullets.
Obviously never worked in hospitality before.
Her daughter entered the shop and came behind the counter while she asked her to ring us up so she could make more coffees. Now, I don’t know if her daughter had ever taken a math class or if she was just generally frightened to man a cash register, but it was quite hilarious.
“Mother! Get over here.” She would demand and then hush her voice as if we couldn’t hear her.
Her mother refused and continued to direct her across the room. The total was $11.50 and we handed her $20.50. She held the money and whisper-shouted, “Mother! I can’t math. They gave me twenty and fifty.”
Her mom told her how to do the subtraction and how much to hand back to us. Dan and I stifled our laughter until we got back in the car. “Well that was interesting,” Dan chuckled.
Once arrived in Dunedin and checked into our holiday park, we did a tour of Speight’s Brewery.
I was wearing sandals, so they made me change into some shoes.
It was a nice little tour that ended in several, heavy pours of homemade brew. Pretty great. Also, look how cool my shoes my are..
The next morning, Dan and I headed down to the train station where we embarked on a scenic train ride into the mountains!
The train ride was pretty cool! We had some lunch and saw some views. It was a unique experience and we look forward to doing it again.
(There’s quite a few pictures in that slideshow!)
Once back in the city, we visited the Dunedin Botanical Garden. This place was HUGE! We had no idea.
You can easily spend an entire day in there. It was very, very cool!
I also really liked the birds.
Road Trip: Big Boulders on the Beach
We decided to leave the Botanic Garden after exploring maybe 1/4th of them in order to make it to Christchurch before midnight. We also planned on stopping to see the Moeraki Boulders, so it was time to leave.
We stopped somewhere along the Koekohe Beach to see the mysterious boulders.
They were beautiful! Some were broken and had algae growing inside, others were dry and you could see they layers of minerals that make them up.
Dan and I enjoyed taking photos here. We even had my camera on a timer so we could play around together.
We finally arrived in Christchurch after 11 PM. We headed to bed with smiles on our faces. Our road trip was coming to an end, but the adventure still continues.
Until next time,
1 A holiday park is like a campground. They provide cabins, campsites with or without power, kitchens, bathrooms and showers. Sometimes crappy wifi.
2 The sunflower is my first favorite. In case you were wondering.
3 Dan and I are also really loving the meat-in-pie thing. Mince and cheese, please!