Sunday, April 24, 2011

South Island, cont'd: Dunedin to Milford Sound

After we dropped Susie and Charlie off at Dunedin airport, Bill and I got a room in a big Victorian B&B.  Our hostess was a charming young Russian woman from Vladivostok.  She had a bubbly smile and a lovely accent.  It was St Patrick's Day, and every pub had it's own live music.  So we roamed the town a bit and had a Thai dinner.  

The next day we headed toward the Fjordlands region.  We found fun backpacker lodging  in the hamlet of Manapouri, on the shores of Lake Manapouri.  The property had several cabins (cottages) and a larger 3 bedroom holiday house.
Manapouri backpackers property map
It was empty when we arrived.  We dropped off our stuff and went to explore the nearby area.  When we got back, I noticed that someone else had dropped of some things there.  She turned out to be a charming Turkish-German woman, named Fikrye.  Later, a young Swiss school teacher showed up and finally 3 young German kids moved in.  It was a busy place.  One of the kids made bread.  There was a well equipped kitchen, a wood burning stove, and TV!!! Yay!  The nights were getting chilly, so Boy Scout Bill chopped the wood and kept the fire going.

The next day we took some day hikes near the lake.  Every trail we set foot upon in New Zealand is beautifully maintained.  They've really got it figured out.  What a pleasure.
Swing Bridge near Lake Manapouri
 The following day, we drove up to Milford Sound.  It's a spectacular forest and mountain drive.   We took an early morning cruise on Milford Sound. It was a beautiful, calm and sunny, perfect for a cruise.
Mitre Peak, Milford Sound

It's a stunning place and justifiably famous for New Zealand.  The sound (fjord) is sprinkled with waterfalls along the steep shores.  The tour boat could handle 50 people, but there were only 10 of us.  Our fellow passengers included a retired Irish couple and a young Austrian family, from Salzburg.

We had a beautiful afternoon drive over a high mountain pass, with a one lane tunnel at the top.  The view from either side is stunning.  We stopped for several short hikes on the way.

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