So nice to have company this morning upon pulling aside the curtain in my camper. A person in a smaller vehicle parked beside mine suddenly twitched aside her curtain to look out and grinned foolishly at me. I put the kettle on.
Before very long we formed a convoy heading out of Arrowtown towards Queenstown, and with confidence I allowed Mr Apple to lead me to the nearest petrol station. Silly me. I had apparently ‘arrived’ at the station but all there was was a long hedge and built up cars behind me all trying to get to work in Queenstown. Not a building in sight. So I searched with my own eyes and found the visible sign eventually and pulled in to fill up on diesel. Amazing how much fuel you go through. Then we veered south and hit the road that hugs the lake heading towards Te Anau. We decided that since we wanted to go to Milford Sound, we needed two nights in Te Anau, as it was a full day to drive out to the Sound and back. The drive beside the lake was beautiful, if overcast, but once again, the clouds on the snow-topped peaks only added to the mystery and glory of the mountains all around.
Further south the clouds had built up more, and we chased rainbows on the distant slopes – their loveliness drew us to stop a couple of times to try and capture them.
A small town at the bottom of the lake – Kingston – is the home of the Kingston Flyer, a steam engine that used to operate out of the town. It has apparently started up again, but I could only see a few carriages and a diesel engine. Looked very promising though.
The road lost its curves and became more fast and straight, and before long we were drawing in to the quaint little settlement called Garston (it’s hard not saying that we a southern twang). It held – oh joy – a silver bullet caravan serving hot food and coffee, and we had our first cheese roll in the south from them. We also cruised around an interesting curio and art shop next door which housed the honey stall and tasting. We had a taste of local honey and bought a jar each. My Wild Thyme was delicious.
Further and further south our convoy rolled – on straight highway and creeping ever closer to Te Anau. A very short trip by my standards. We decided to detour slightly and go via Lumsden, which is a moderate sized town that is known to us for its mountain cycle trail. Oh to have had time and my bike with me! We both looked longingly at the map which detailed an extensive circular route around the mountains.
At Lumsden we took a sharp westward turn and headed straight for Te Anau. . . Only 40 mins or so away. On the way had to stop and gasp and take photos of the encroaching snow-capped peaks all around. Close to Te Anau I stopped and we made a cuppa in the van and sat enjoying the scenery all around and sipping tea.
Down a few more straights, we found ourselves descending gently into the very pretty little town of Te Anau, with daffodils down the centre of the street and blossom trees in full flower. It was delightful to see the wee shops and restaurants and the sleepy placid township in the blazing mid afternoon sun. Lifting our eyes, the lake sparkled in the distance, and beyond and everywhere we turned there were distant and not so distant peaks jutting up with white caps. Gorgeous.
We drove through town to the waterfront, and turned right, and to my delight found the Tasman Holiday Park sign not far along the road. Here we found an English chap sitting behind the reception desk who was very dry in his wit and a bit of bantering took place which is being built on with each encounter. Our vans are parked side by side, and in a lovely setting, and we set out to discover the town by foot. We have eaten a mid-afternoon main meal at the local bar/bistro called Baileze – I had the ribs, and Helen the chicken skewers. The walk back to the reception desk to enquire about booking for the Milford Sound boat the next day, was extended when our friendly host told me to “wear off the ribs I’d eaten and walk down to the corner of town to the Real NZ office”.
We walked the same distance back parallel to the way we had come, and for $89 bought tickets on the boat at Milford Sound. It means we’ll be pressed to drive the distance in the morning to get there in time for the 10.30 clock in, but it will be worth it I’m sure. Now we have had a leisurely time relaxing and reading and will have an early night in prep for the big day out. Still feeling very happy to be here right now. I have a constant presence in my camper with me, as now. It is as familiar as an old coat. A favourite and comfortable coat of course! I had to take out some stitches on her elbow this afternoon – from a bike ride accident nearly 2 weeks ago. The things you find you can do!