Te Anau and the Milford Road – New Zealand
Time pack up again and press on. I made fun of the New Zealand Policeman counseling session / speeding ticket, but I realize I had gotten back into the hurry sickness that makes travel unpleasant. Ever since the ticket, I am back into mellow driving mode, enjoying the trip and getting much less driving fatigue. Of course the fabulous scenery here on the West side of the South Island helps a bit as well.
Today we drove back out of the valley leading into Queenstown and headed south to Te Anau. We dropped off our stuff at Keiko’s cottage and took a leisurely stroll in a verdant rain forest up the Waiau River that flows
into Lake Te Anau
Keiko’s has nice little cottages with well tended gardens. Kevin (Keiko’s husband) is knowledgeable about the area , but a bit over zealous in getting you to book activities. Which brings me to a rule for the New Zealand tourist.
“Never trust a weather prediction from someone trying to book you on a tour.”
The little bits of Japanese culture, including a Japanese breakfast for an extra charge, is a nice addition to your travel experiences. One does get the feeling that Kevin is just doing a job, where our previous B and B hosts seem to actually enjoy their guests.
Dinner was at the Red Cliff restaurant. The waitress was a personable young lady from Chile and whose stories of Patagonia were perhaps the highlight. The specialty is local meat and game. We had a lamb chop dish and a venison dish, which we both shared. I have come to realize that lamb is almost always prepared as plain roast meat and I don’t really love it that much. Only in Indian dishes. The venison, I think was farm raised, because there was no gamey taste. In fact, little taste at all, but it was lean and tender. On the other hand, the accompaniments were actually pretty fabulous as was the trio of cheesecakes, considering they were not baked cheesecakes.
After a nice cooked breakfast ($10 extra charge each, where it has been included in other B and B’s), we are off down the Milford road. Kudos to Kevin for warning us about the Te Anau police who will ticket you for speeds over 32 mph. We saw 2 tickets being given on the way out !!
The Milford road is reputed to be the most spectacular drive in New Zealand. We were probably 2/3 of the way down it and thinking it was just a pleasant mountain road when the real drive began. The last 1/3 has to be one of the beautiful drives in the world.
One particularly notable spot was the mirror lakes . Check out this photo:
We neext stopped at a place called the divide and took a hike to the Key Summit. This is one of the best hikes off the Milford road for spectacular views, including Lake Marian. IF it is clear. It wasn’t. The clouds let just enough sunshine through to give us hope and keep us forging upward to the summit, but the only thing we got out of the 3 hour trip was sore joints. As we labored to the top, we literally had our heads in the clouds with nothing but white to be seen. Well actually, the lower part through the rainforest was pretty cool and the alpine bog on top was certainly interesting, but a little clearing of the fog would have been
better. Well ok, back in the car and a bit farther on you enter the one lane 1km tunnel and emerge into the wonder of Milford sound area. More on the Milford sound next post