SailBlog

Te Anau, Fiordland (April 2017)

25 April 2017
We drove 3 hours from Queenstown to Te Anau. Te Anau is a small tourist town located on Lake Te Anau with a population of < 2,000 but accommodates 4,000 tourists in the high season. It is on the edge of the Fiordland National Park (a World UNESCO Site), which includes ~3 million acres. It is the jump off point to tour Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound, which are both actually fiords, not sounds. We went to the theater to see a movie on the fiordland, which had beautiful photography. We visited the Wildlife Center to see the rare Takahe birds. (See Photos)

We spent 3 nights in Te Anau and toured both Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound. The Doubtful Sound tour included a boat ride across Lake Manapouri, followed by a bus trip over Wilmot Pass through Fiordland's rainforest, and 3 hour cruise of Doubtful Sound, 20 miles to the Tasman Sea. The fiord is beautiful, surrounded by mountains up to 12,000 feet in elevation. The wildlife we saw included huge bottlenose dolphins that were 12 feet in length, Mollymawk birds and seals. We were lucky to have good weather, a small boat with only about a dozen people, and a really knowledgeable tour guide. (See Photos)

The Milford Sound tour included a bus ride with several stops along the way including the Knobs Flat grassy meadows in Eglinton Valley, a native red beech forest, Mirror Lakes with reflections of the mountain. We also did a short hike at The Chasm, a series of swirling waterfalls, in a mossy forest with tree ferns. Then we drove through the Alps, and stopped at Homer Tunnel to see the cheeky Kea alpine parrots. The Keas were hysterical as they peck at the rubber parts on the cars and tried to get inside. (See Video) The Keas had been moving the traffic cones around during a construction project at the tunnel and the transportation authority had to buy weighted cones that they couldn't move. The Homer Tunnel is 1.2 miles long, carved out of solid rock with no reinforcement, and took 20 years to build. As we entered the tunnel, our guide informed us that there were 2,000 earthquakes per month in the Milford Sound area. Something I would have appreciated knowing AFTER we got back to our hotel, but not as we were going through the tunnel! (See Photos)

We arrived at the headlands of Milford Sound and boarded our tour boat. We cruised 10 miles out to the Tasman Sea and saw tons of waterfalls, as it started to rain. We also visited the floating underwater observatory, which is 30 feet below surface, where we saw the rare black coral, some unique sponges and fish. (See Photos)

More Later - G&T
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Vessel Name: Cetacea
Vessel Make/Model: Cheoy Lee 53' Motorsailor
Hailing Port: Houston, Texas, USA
Crew: Tony Wessendorff & Gail Corrigan
About:
After 25 fun filled years as an environmental consulting firm owner, Gail sold her company and she and her husband, Tony the CFO, retired to go sailing on their boat Cetacea (see photo gallery). Cetacea was in St. [...]
Extra: P.S. Cetacea is the higher order biological name for whales and dolphins. Whales and dolphins are cetaceans. And our boat is a big fat whale of a boat, hence the name Cetacea! Not to mention that Tony & Gail, like all sailors, love whales.
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