Well we left Invercargill in the most torrential downpour, thank goodness we'd booked onto the bus for the hop over to Te Anau. As we were soaked and cold we upgraded from the tent to a cabin, it was fab, little kettle and toaster, heater, marvellous!
Our first day was to Doubtful Sound, it was misty, rainy and cold but very beautiful. The rain meant all the temporary waterfalls were in full flow, the Tasman Sea when the boat left the Sounds was quite calm and the silence when the boats engines were switched off was amazing, you rarely get total silence like that at home, usually some car will pass and spoil it! A final thrill for the day was the pod of Bottlenose Dolphins that accompanied us for a while. The return trip to Manapouri involved a stop at the hydro electric power station, the threat of earthquakes is never far from your mind when you are down a 2km tunnel under a mountain!
The following day was the trip to Milford Sound, this was really fab. It was a 2 1/2 hour coach trip to get to the Sound with a few stops on the way for photos and a wee stop at Knobs Flat (a classic if you are cycling I think!). The scenery along the Milford Road was quite immense, a long trek along a glacial valley and then just sheer cliffs and glaciers once you go over The Divide to the Hollyford Valley and then the Homer Tunnel. Once through the tunnel our views on the way out were a bit restricted by mist but on the way back you could see how stunning and frankly scary these mountains are. The weather cleared for us out on the Sound and again having had rain the waterfalls were great - the boat gets steered under a couple of them so that you can get soaked at the front if you chose. Where Doubtful Sound was beautiful Milford Sound is awe inspiring, quite the most amazing place we've ever been. See the pics below.
Our last trip for that day was to the Ta Anau glow worm caves, these were across the Lake (6 boats in 2 days!), there was the usual Kiwi disregard for health and safety. You had to crawl or crouch along a low tunnel in the dark to get into the caves, once in there you walked along dodgy board walks and concrete walkways alongside the stream. The lights were fairly random, no hard hats and really wicked stairs. All very entertaining though. We then had to scramble into a boat and the guide climbed along the side to the front to pull us along, the lights were switched off and we were in total darkness. The glow worms were great, it was like looking at the night sky and when they were in big enough numbers they did cast a faint glow that could illuminate the boat. We were at the back of the boat, it was very comical how quickly everyone scrambled out, virtually a stampede!
A great couple of days.