Southland & Fiordland

Milford Sound – Wednesday, 16 February 2011

So we continued our journey on the Southland to the Catlins. Although this is one of the coldest and wettest (noticeable from the zillion amazing waterfalls) areas of NZ, its scenery is stunning!

On the way to Jack's Blowhole in the Catlins

We had a few good walks there and visited the natural attractions. We had the most amazing view from our campsite that night, although the weather could have been a bit better.

Kitchen with a view

We spent the weekend of the 5th in Gore to visit our English friends who where WOOF’ing on a farm there. Although Gore is pretty boring all year round, we were lucky that the annual Agricultural Show was that weekend. We watched competitions of wood chopping, home bakery and a beauty pageant for sheep, cows and dogs. Aaah the outdoor feeling.

We then made the terrible decision of driving down to Invercargill. We can’t provide you with any pictures of it as our camera is not waterproof (read: it rained a lot). Henry, a 120-year-old tuatara and the seafood chowder at the local Irish pub where the only highlights of the two days we stayed there.

So we were happy to leave Invercargill and even drove to the end of the world: Bluff. Unfortunately the popular Bluff Oyster was not for sale yet, so that was a wee bit disappointing for Melanie.

The end of the world

We set camp near the deepest lake of NZ: lake Hauroko. Again we had stunning views, but this time the sandflies were bugging us. We felt like we were at the bottom of the food chain.

Deepest lake of NZ

To escape the attack of the sandflies we took a three hour adventurous uphill walk, which led us to Bluff Point Lookout, where we had a 360 view over Bluff (what’s in a name), the lake and the surrounding mountains. Andrew even made the lake a bit deeper.

Looks like we made it!
Filling the lake

On Tuesday the 8th we started our visit to the Fiordlands. We found ourselves the cutest campsite ever at lake Manapouri and were joined once more by our British friends. The owners of the campsite have been collecting old cars since forever, including a dozen of 1950’s Morris Minors. We picked our favorite: the MelsWagen. Apart from the vintage cars we also enjoyed their antique collection of pinball machines.

The MelsWagen

For diner we were planning on catching a ginormous trout from lake Manapouri. However, after three hours of catching rocks, seaweed and each other’s hooks, we gave up, went to the shop and had a BBQ without trout.

Fishing for Trout

Friday morning we took off on an organized kayak trip on the Doubtful Sound. Although the cruise on Lake Manapouri and the winding coach ride to the Sound where a little harsh on Melanie’s stomach, the kayaking trip was a very fun day out. With Melanie as navigator and Andrew at the steer, we were gliding through the water and exploring the magnificent scenery that the Doubtful Sound has got in display.

Doubtful Sound

We stayed in Te Anau for the weekend and even had Sunday Roast at the local pub before heading off to Milford Sound, the popular brother of Doubtful. Our travel guide told us to take our time and enjoy the astonishing landscapes on our way up to Milford. So we did. We even climbed up Key Summit for a breathtaking view of three very different valleys that join together.

Key Summit

Our friendly Brits persuaded Andrew for a 2 hour cruise on Milford Sound. Melanie stayed ashore keeping in mind her previous boat encounter. We were all really lucky that day because the sun was shining as it only does a handful of days in the rainiest place of NZ. Andrew and the Brits saw seals, mountain high waterfalls with rainbows, the Tasman Sea and a big fat Dutch cruise boat.

Owen and Anna
The Amsterdam
The Fiords
Milford Sound

After our two weeks in the rainy Southland & Fiordland we headed towards the sunny Central Otago. More on that next time..