Back from the edge of the wilderness

I have just come back from the best break from normal life that I’ve had for a long time. I have spent nine days on the edge of the wilderness in Fiordland and the south west of the South Island.

First base was Te Anau, which is an easy half day drive from Dunedin, 290m km. From there some of the highlights were:

  • Launch trip across Lake Te Anau to visit the Te Anau Caves. Glowworms are modest compared to Waitomo, but going up a narrow passage still being formed by a stream inside a mountain is a worthwhile experience.
  • Trip to Doubtful Sound. This leaves from Manapouri, 20 km south of Te Anau, starting with a launch trip across the lake to the West Arm where the power station is mostly buried 180 meters down. Then there is a 19 km bus trip through Fiordland forest over the Wilmot Pass and down to Deep Cove, the innermost part of Doubtful Sound.
  • I’ve been to Doubtful Sound a couple of times before and this was as good, it’s quiet and remote (two other boats were out when we were there but mostly out of sight). It was a fine day with no rain for several days so waterfalls were scarce, but reflections up Crooked Arm were amazing.
Crooked Arm, Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

Also from Te Anau:

  • Lakeside walk including a stop at the bird park where there are kaka, morepork and takahe.
  • Walked a few kilometres of the Kepler Track, on of New Zealand’s Great Walks. The part we did was through beech forest alongside Lake Te Anau.

There’s plenty of accommodation options in Te Anau and also a variety of mostly tourist grade eating options. With Covid and still being winter it was quite quiet.

Next was a trip to Milford Sound, which is an experience that begins with the 118 km trip alongside Lake Te Anau and then splits off up the Hollyford Valley. There are a number of walks up the Hollyford, in particular the short board walk at Mirror Lakes and also the Lake Gunn walk.

We deliberately chose a rainy day. I have been to Milford a couple of times before but when it was dry. This time we headed into reltively (for Fiordland) light rain but enough for waterfalls in all directions once we got up over the divide.

The trip up to the huge rock face where the Homer Tunnel takes you to the other side is impressive in any weather. Avalanche risk was low because there hadn’t been much snow.

Down the other side to Milford was one jaw dropping sight after another, with water pouring off the near shear sided mountains in all directions.

We then got on a launch and headed out along Milford Sound. Most of the time we were surrounded by waterfalls, from ribbon trickles to pouring torrents. An amazing experience.

We stayed the night in Milford Sound in reasonably priced fantastic accommodation with views of mountains and waterfalls in all directions, a very good restaurant, and visits to the large glass doors by kea and weka.

By mid morning the next day most of the mountains were mostly revealed amongst the clouds. There are great sights in all conditions at Milford.

The trip out was on it’s own great but it eases us out of the magnificent grandeur. There are good reasons for Milford Sound being rated one of the top tourist experiences anywhere, and it is more or less in our back yard. And on this trip it was far from crowded.

This was just the firsdt half of the trip. from there we chilled out in Manapouri, went to Lake Hauroko for the first time where there is a great forest walk (huge beech and totara trees), and stayed for a couple of nights in Riverton on the south coast.

And coming home yesterday we detoured through the Catlins, far more interesting than the main highway.

So that’s why I have been doing minimal blogging. Some days I had no internet connection, other days I just didn’t care about being connected to the wider world.

Has anything happened that matters while I’ve been away?

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38 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  24th August 2020

    Pete, richly deserved.
    Been down that way a dozen times, the last whilst walking the Milford track.
    Absolutely unbelievable, have to do it in late February as zero rain.
    Accommodation first class with queen sized beds, en suite, unbelievable menus at all 4 stops and a massive grog selection.
    Apart from being the eldest on my walk I ended up with the largest bar bill, so a great success.
    Helicoptered back from Milford to Queenstown.
    Again, another of life’s true adventures.

    Reply
    • Jack

       /  24th August 2020

      Lovely to hear of your awesome holiday!
      Yes, some worthy things happened in your absence. One was that Kimbo admitted he’s a nitpicker. I’m a good contributor Pete, cleaning up for you.
      Kiwis looking after one another. You didn’t mention seeing those?

      Reply
  2. duperez

     /  24th August 2020

    What happened that matters is that you did what you did.👍

    Reply
  3. John J Harrison

     /  24th August 2020

    Pete, you asked what has happened while you have been away ?
    I am too thick to know how to include a link but if you go to TV One you will see a wonderful synopsis from Labour fan boy Bryce Edwards.
    Well worth a post on its own.
    He has finally seen the light and is ropable about the lies we have been fed as truth and carefully details every instance.
    Little wonder that fellow fan boy, Jack Tame laments that Bloomfield has refused on innumerable occasions this month to appear on Q&A.
    Edwards summation is the best in years.

    Reply
  4. Blazer

     /  24th August 2020

    Sounds like a great trip.

    Watching Country Calendar last night also reminded of what a beautiful country we live in.

    It was about sheep and hop farming.
    A family business in the Marlborough Sounds region.

    CC never disappoints….great information and insight into rural NZ .
    Also expert production ,the filming and narration always top class.

    The family farmers are the best.
    We need to stop selling this country to absentee millionaires.

    Reply
    • Jack

       /  24th August 2020

      zzzZzZ! Woke me up with that one B. Thanks. I think so too. Kiwis living here in family business is the best. A permeation of positivity and hope for the future.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  24th August 2020

      I love their coverage of niche farming industries. The creativity of people in our agricultural sector is incredible. I’m always disappointed at the lack of Maori initiative in this area. So far I can only remember a handful of Maori entrepreneurs covered. Given we are continually told Maori have an infinity with the land, I can’t understand way tribes aren’t putting huge investment into this area

      Well, I know some of the reasons..but I don’t want to be accused of racism.

      Reply
  5. David

     /  24th August 2020

    Louisa Wall has stopped the health select committee sitting and asking Bloomfield some questions about being less than forthcoming on the way the public was misled on testing.
    Joe Biden managed to make a speech from his basement with a teleprompter and the global media exploded with amazement that he didnt stuff it up. Kamala Harris made her speech in that truly awful nasily condescending Californian accent straight after Obama made his speech so no one took any notice of her. Michelle Obama somehow made her DNC speech calling out Trump for separating kids at the border despite her husband doing exactly the same thing and he constructed the widely condemned cages..she also never mentioned Kamala Harris.
    A Singaporean study has found that Cove can survive being frozen in a salmon for 3 weeks which could be the source of our outbreak, not that particular salmon. Ironic since Ardern was on track to lose the election until Covid came along and perhaps through no fault of her own its going to sink her chances of governing alone.

    Reply
  6. Mishkat Al Moumin

     /  24th August 2020

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • I want to go on a trip like that !!!!

      Reply
      • Mishkat Al Moumin

         /  24th August 2020

        😀

        Reply
        • I want to see Akaroa and Arrowtown again; I loved them both. I’d also like to see Dunedin again. The only thing that puts me off wanting to live there is the cold winters, although when I lived in Europe the winters made Dunedin’s ones look quite tropical by comparison ! We lived in Bath for a while, and the shortcut near us couldn’t be used from November to May because it became a skating rink; it had no sun so was ice all that time.

          The last time I went past Kaikoura, whales obligingly came out and put on a display for us.

          Reply
  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  24th August 2020

    Took a short helicopter ride from Milford once – stunning views from up on the tops there. It stopped on top of one peak to let us out for a few minutes.

    Reply
  8. Kimbo

     /  24th August 2020

    I’ve gained less-than-profitable work as a nit-picker, while Alan Wilkinson is moonlighting as a sub-editor for the The Telegraph (long story). 😉

    Oh, yeah, and my fault, I fed the Jack-troll.

    Reply
    • Jack

       /  24th August 2020

      Yep, your fault. If you were carrying your cross you’d be guilt free.

      Reply
      • No living person can ever be that.

        Reply
        • Jack

           /  24th August 2020

          Kimbo could be

          Reply
          • Unless he is without sin, he couldn’t be.

            Reply
            • Jack

               /  24th August 2020

              Then God died for everyone except for Kimbo?
              When you carry your cross you are without sin. That’s the power of Jesus’ cross.
              To repeat, sorry – the only place to carry one’s cross is in Church.
              Church is the only non-cult group on earth.
              I have proven these things through my testimony.
              Enough individual Christian testimonies are the only way for Kiwis to keep on top of the world’s problems and to leave a safe legacy for future generations. – and to keep caring for our environment.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  25th August 2020

      Changed a word and Kimbo wasted thousands. I’d be an economical subeditor.

      Reply
      • Jack

         /  25th August 2020

        Ha! You were up late
        (Fewer words & no full stop)

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  25th August 2020

          Trying to fix Mrs Al’s computer, Jack. Windows Updates taking forever.

          Reply
      • Kimbo

         /  25th August 2020

        Because it was in a primary source you were quoting, and for the reader’s sake it wasn’t yours to change, Al.

        Happy to leave it at that brief summary, but you want to carry on defending the dishonest censorship, am happy to keep on wasting words.

        Reply
        • Jack

           /  25th August 2020

          sigh – you so don’t know the Bible Kimbo
          you’re a scrabbler, uneconomical by your own admission
          I find that calvinists and their sort always end up exposing their faults with an admission of their error….and always use the word ‘happy’ (happy to abuse – that’s not a personal reference to you Kimbo)

          Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  25th August 2020

          Nothing dishonest about it except in your mind, Kimbo. Corrected an honest mistake honestly as any subeditor should to frustrate the most determined nitpicker masquerading as an honest reader.

          Reply
          • Kimbo

             /  25th August 2020

            So no, you don’t want to leave it? Well, maybe I’m not the only nit-picker.

            You’re not the delegated subbie changing a reference to Auckland being the NZ capital by Brit opining as a supposed expert on our nation, you’re the guy cutting and pasting the original work in approval the writer’s words. And then changing what you know others could consider a mistake that would detract from her credibility, if only in some small way. And to stop that happening you censored it, and cry “nit picker” when you are called out, and double down with repeated uses of “of course”.

            And no, it’s not only “in my mind”, because there are very good ethical and common sense reasons why what you did is not acceptable common practice, at least by non-media accessing a source.

            So no, Alan, I think you are in the minority. Which is why you cover your tracks by the empty observation that adds nothing that you made up your own decision about what is ethical in the matter. Yep, and it was wrong.

            Wanna sunmmarise some more?

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  25th August 2020

              Yep, baiting the bull is still fun, Kimbo.

            • Blazer

               /  25th August 2020

              I imagine being badly gored by it….not much fun…Al!Bol.

            • Kimbo

               /  25th August 2020

              Is that an accusation, Alan, because you’ve never struck me as the sort of guy to bait others?

              Like I said, I was happy to leave this at the light-hearted comment that pointed no fingers to which you originally responded on this thread. Happy to leave it at this now too. Your move or we can both vacate the field…

            • Jack

               /  25th August 2020

              Please don’t stop Al. It does some of us good to see a churchy’s real self reveal. (He’s not reading his Bible, the bad boy.)

            • Kimbo

               /  25th August 2020

              But for what it is worth, Alan, I accept you at your word that you made the change in good conscience. So it’s just your judgement over which we disagree, and you’ve already stated that.

              I trust that finalises the matter to our mutual satisfaction.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  25th August 2020

              I think I’ve said all that needs to be said, Kimbo, except that you have a right to nitpick and I have a right to call you on it. As I said, there is a substantive ethical issue with my post but this wasn’t it.

            • Jack

               /  25th August 2020

              …Jack troll under the bridge…

              Kimbo, your words are the stuff of Kiwi mistrust, and it makes you happy? What about the future?

              You can’t taxidermy my troll

            • Kimbo

               /  25th August 2020

              Then, Alan, with that irenic summary I’ll let you have the last wor…, oh bugger, sorry! 😳😂

            • Jack

               /  25th August 2020

              You’re not at peace

  9. Tom Hunter

     /  25th August 2020

    Did the Doubtful Sound trip mid-80’s in winter, including the bus trip down into the mountain to see the power station. Fantastic stuff. Then Milford Sound by car. Late 80’s walked the Milford Track. Milford Sound a year later guiding overseas friends.

    But in some respects the visit to Doubtful Sound just few years ago with my family was better. The bus trip to the power station was still on at that point and it was like walking into a James Bond movie set. Sadly that’s now been canned and there seems no way it will ever start up again. I suspect that’s because the power station has become so automated that there is no one there to keep an eye on the tourists aside from the driver. Glad my kids got to see it.

    As I was riding away from West Arm on the boat – bigger and fancier than the 80’s version – I was suddenly struck by the strange realisation that if another thirty years passed before visiting it again I’d likely be dead!!

    Did another tourist guiding effort for friends last year to Milford Sound and really enjoyed the views without having to drive.

    Reply
  10. Jack

     /  25th August 2020

    I got to see the power station as a school kid.
    Walked Milford track a few years later with a friend as 16 yo’s. Was so pleased to be doing it without parents…it turned out an older cousin was walking it the same time! She told us off for walking too fast. Got to the top in the mist and my friend didn’t even want to wait so we could take in the views. I let her go ahead and stopped for the scenery. Puffing cousin caught up, still glowering.
    Fiordland Walks are special. Routeburn is my favourite.
    Took children to see glow worms. Smallest was quite scared of that roaring walkway. Children had a sail on Lake Te Anau.
    It must have been nice to be relatively news free for a few days Pete, especially in beautiful surrounds and wholesome activity.

    Reply

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