Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Zealand Part 2 -Manapouri & Doubtful Sound

After 4 nights in Dunedin, we drove south towards Fiordland and the little town of Manapouri. To the left is a photo looking over Lake Manapouri from our Motel.
However it commenced to rain so after lunch in the tavern next to the Motel we went to the wharf to book a tour of Doubtful Sound. The only way to reach Doubtful Sound is to take a tour which is very expensive. I had 2 possible days and, with the weather forecast being poor for the Wednesday, I chose Thursday which proved to be one of the best decisions I have made. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading before driving the 20 km to the bigger town of Te Anau for dinner and the supermarket. It continued to rain.
Wednesday morning I looked out the window and saw a few patches of white and told my sister it was snow. She replied, no it is frost, but then the snow came pouring down. We drove back to Te Anau and walked beside the lake in the snow then decided to drive towards Milford Sound. I have been there 4 times and stayed overnight after driving in 2 years ago but my sister has never been in this area of NZ. The warnings were for snow chains but we decided to take the risk .
Although the photo indicates otherwise, we actually drank our coffee sitting in the car.

We continued to the Cascades and the Divide but as it began to snow quite heavily, I thought it would be best to turn back after looking at the view down into the Holyford valley. Here we met some Keas. I had an altercation with Keas on my previous trip when I stopped to wait for the lights at the Homer Tunnel (one way) and foolishly left my door open. The Keas attacked the rubber on the brand new Avis car. This time I was more careful and kept the door closed. They have no fear.

As the snow kept falling, we returned to Te Anau for lunch and then back to Manapouri and our hotel for an afternoon watching the US Presidential results on TV.
At 5.30pm the station stopped coverage in the middle of McCain's concession speech, much to my sister's disgust. We saw Obama's acceptance speech during the evening news.
Disappointing my sister did not see Milford Sound but hopefully I can drive her there in my own car when she visits me after I have relocated. I was glad to see on TV that snow was covering the suburbs in Dunedin where I hope to live. This was the heaviest snowfall of the year and the heaviest November fall for 30 years.

However Thursday dawned bright and sunny and we had glorious weather to travel to Doubtful Sound. This begins with a launch trip across Lake Manapouri on the right.

Then you transfer to coaches to drive over the Divide. We had a wonderful trip as although the skies were largely blue, the snow from the day before was covering the trees. Finally there is a cruise on Doubtful Sound and we went right to the entrance but did not go out as there was quite a swell running.

A short movie shows the Sound and some of the commentary.

We toured the underground power station on the way back. The road we had travelled was really built for the power station not the tourists that now take advantage of it. It is the most expensive to build piece of road in New Zealand.

On the Friday we drove back to Dunedin but first went south to the city of Invercargill and even further to the port of Bluff. Here I was able to stand at the most southerly point of the South Island (Smaller Stewart Island lies further south) I have a photo of my standing at the most northerly point of the North Island back in 2004.

This is the furthest south that I have ever been. Just last May I reached the furthest north I have ever been at the Arctic Circle in Finland.


Anonymous said...

I remember our trip to the South Island in 1997. It is really a beautiful place. The guide told us about the keas and how destructive they can be. I like the picture of the kea on your mirror.

toujoursdan said...

Great photos. I haven't spent much time in Dunedin but know it will be a great new home for you!