Stunning South Island
24 February 2010 | Milford Sound, New Zealand
So this is what the South Island is really about... and it delivered in spades. Stunning mountains, waterfalls, verdant rainforests that look like they belong on Bora Bora. We arrived in the tourist town of Te Anau, dodging campervans and busloads of German and Asian tourists, but finding a wide selection of great restaurants for satisfying our foodie urge. We quickly headed out of town about 70 miles towards Milford Sound looking for an aggressive hike. We found a 3-4 hour hike to Lake Marion that fit the bill perfectly, with a 500 meter incline over several miles. We arrived at the summit and found the lake shrouded in low clouds. We could see the near coastline and about 30 meters up and down the shoreline... that is until the clouds suddenly parted and both Rina and I were startled to find a huge glacier right in front of us. Our minds had played tricks on us, thinking that the lake was large, until the clearing clouds revealed a sheer wall at least half a mile straight up. It was an eerie feeling.
The day after our hike we drove all the way out to Milford Sound through some of the most stunning scenery we have ever seen. Sheer rock walls, glaciers, lush rainforests and interesting wildlife made it all interesting. We toured the sound on MV Sinbad, a 4 month old tour boat built for 60 but with only 30 passengers. Captain Denny, an former crawdad fisherman from the sound had the pleasure of skippering the boat and was very friendly, talking about the boats state of the art systems and how she was constructed.
Yesterday we drove the 180km to Queenstown, THE tourist hotspot on South Island, to find a downtown buzzing with tourists. This place has ski resorts all around it, so during the summer they go for extreme sports... bungy, jet boats, huge swings, sky diving, wheeled luges and zip lines abound. We booked a 2 bedroom apartment with hot tub for the 3 days, rendezvousing with Drew and Margie from SV Dosia, who are back over after delivering Dosia to her new owner in Brisbane. Today we're getting our yaya's off by canyon jetboating and doing the huge swing, with a 100 meter drop. Rina's panicking already!