Monday, December 31, 2007

New Zealand Road Trip - December 9, 2007 (6)

December 9

Te Anau

Why did we want to get to Te Anau? It is the staging area for tours of Fiordland National Park. Mountains in the area reach elevations of up to 2,750 m (9,020 ft) and plunge to deep fiords - 14 of them. We all thought this was the most breathtaking scenery we encountered on our trip. Craig had booked us for a day trip on Milford Sound. It was about a 2 hour drive from Te Anau to the launch site of the cruise boat we went on.

The town of Te Anau is situated on one of the largest lakes in the country - aptly named Lake Te Anau.

Lake Te Anau from the town waterfront area.

Milford Sound

Following are all from Milford Sound - comments only where required. Most are self explanatory - just great scenery shots! This was a long day so there are lots of pix. Enjoy!

The peak on the right is Mitre Peak "so called because of its resemblance to a bishop's mitre." It is one of the most famous landmarks of Fiordland and probably the most photographed. We took a few pix of it ourselves. And it appears on the front cover of BOTH the tour books that I bought before we left!

This is the boat we were on. The masts are "decorative" - not functional. We were out on the top deck for the trip. It was a nice day, as you can see by the pix. It did get windy further out.


Mitre Peak.

Mary and Craig.

This one is supposedly shaped like a lion and I believe the name reflects that fact in Maori.

Craig and Mary.

Craig, Mary and Joe. This may be the only pix of the three of us. We just didn't think about getting too many.
Fur seals.

New Zealand Christmas tree.
The pohutukawa or New Zealand Christmas Tree, metsiderosis excelsa, is one of the most outstanding plants of the entire New Zealand flora. A tougher or more adaptable coastal tree would be hard to find, for the pohutukawa will gain a foothold in the most inhospitable of rock crevices where continual lashings of salt-laden winds and drenchings of salt water are the norm, and life giving fresh water and nutrients are scarce in the extreme.

Fiordland Crested Penguins. This is not an excellent pix, but they were far away - at least that's our excuse. The point is that these are "wild" and as the name suggests, local to the area.
As we reached open water at the mouth of the fiord, the next land would be Australia. Here Craig is waving to girlfriend Rhonwyn, who is back at home in Tazmania working for the summer.
Now a few words about my dopey raincoat. As it turned out, it was probably the best thing that I brought. As you can see from the pix, it was a very sunny day. What you can't see is that when we got close to the open ocean, the wind was very strong and nippy. This coat kept me nice a warm. I wasn't the fashion queen on this trip!
Now we are heading back.
Fur seals.
Waterfall. We went right up to it so the spray would hit us. One Maori legend is that if you get in the spray you will wake up looking ten years younger. In my case, I don't think it worked!

Another waterfall. There had not been rain for a couple of weeks, which apparently is a long time for the area. Usually, with more rain, the falls we saw are more voluminous and there are usually more of them.
Here we are back to Mitre Peak.
Craig - on the way back to Te Anau.
Windy road - yup - this is what we were driving on - on the "wrong" side!
Mirror Lakes
Craig had us stop at Mirror Lakes on the way back. It seemed more like "mirror swamp" to me, a lowland. But it was very pretty and if you look closely you'll see that the water is crystal clear. We could see fish swimming and all the plants, etc. below the surface.

Paradise Shelducks.

Back at Lake Te Anau

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