So I left Queenstown early on Mon 2nd Jan, 7am for the 2.5 hour bus ride to Te Anau where you base yourself to visit the famous Milford Sounds.
I had pre booked 'Bob and Maxines' hostel which was a georgeous wooden buidling right out in the countrym with fields of sheep etc around it- felt very like home! Thankfully they did pick up from the bus as it was quite a distance from the centre of Te Anau! The monday afternoon I took one of theor free bikes from the hostel and cycled into town, then went to Te Anau Glow worm Caves, on a wee boat trip etc. The trip was bit pricey at 35 pouns sterling, but the caves are only accessible by boat trip, so you have no other option of getting there of you want to go! The glow worm caves were great to see, you alked through the first part and then got on a small little boat for the rest - looking up all you could see where little glowing green dots - the worms on the cave roof. Pretty fascinating; the worms glow at different strengths depsnding on their age and also how hungry they are! The Mauri people dreamt of and wrote of these caves long before they were ever discovered which was really interesting. After the caves I headed off my wee bike again and cycled to the Wildlife Natire park which had lots of native N.Z bird species, eg blue ducks, tui, kaka etc.
Pn the Tuesday 3rd Jan I was picked up at my hostel at 8.15am, on the chepaest trip I could find going to Milford Sound! The guy driving the bus was really fab and knowledgeable and really made the day trip worth while. It turned out that the drive to Milford Sound was incredible in itself; its a 3 hour drive with lots on stops en route for fab photo opportunities; mountains, lakes, glaciers. snow on mountain tops, Lake Te Anau, Te Anau downs, creeks, tree lined roads etc, just stunning. One of the highlights was 'mirror lake' which had an amzing reflective lake set belpw mountians. You walk along a wooden board walk past a beech forest and wetlands and there is a lake which is completely relective, amazing! We also stopped off at 'lake gunn' where people camp for a few quid a night and oh my goodness, seeing what you could wake up to when you opened your tent really made me want to come back to N.Z some time in the future and do a camping holiday, just beautiful. Milford Sound iteslf was amazing to see, but to be honest after seeing Halong Bay in Vietnam and being ale to seep overnight on the bay in an old junk boat, Milford was a little bit of a let down in comparison. We did did lots of seals on 'seal rock' there and cruised around for an hour or so, had lunch on the boat and kept a close eye out for dolphins (didnt see any :( ) so was a good trip out and the roads there made it absoutely worth it. Milford has still dark waters with sheer rocky cliffs above which have forests. It hadnt rained in milford for quite a few days and so the waterfalls were nearly dry which was shame but the boat still got as close to one of the big flowing ones so that everyone on the deck got sprayed haha!!
Half way to Milford there is the 'homer tunnel' where a tunnel has literally been carved through the mountain...and there are 'ice caves' by the tunnell, amazing to see especially on a hot sunny day!! The tunnel itself has no ceiling support, the mind boggles a bit when you are drivimg through! In the summer they have traffic lights to only allow 1 way traffic at a time but in the winter the risk of avalanche is too big and the traffic lights are turned off as you are safer in the tunnel than out!!
So tomorrow I leave Te Anau, to go back to Queenstown for 1 night stop over before heading onto Franz Josef which I am really looking forward to!