Do you have a fear? I don’t mean something that makes you turn up your nose. I mean a real, paralysing, panic-inducing, honest-to-god F.E.A.R. I do, it’s flying*. So going to NZ last week had me in all kinds of anxiety modes. A doctor had given me valium to help with the flights. I wasn’t too bad on the way over as the flight was fairly smooth. A few bumps here and there. And the landing was quite bumpy. I must have looked a bit pale as one of the flight attendants asked if I was ok, and assured me it would “all be over before you know it.”**
Once the flying was out of the way, I hit the ground running. Literally. I couldn’t get away from the plane fast enough! We picked up our rental car and headed west for Lake Tekapo.
I was amazed at how windy it was (no wonder that landing was bumpy!), but more so at how beautiful the snow-capped mountains in the far off distanced looked. We arrived in Lake Tekapo to less-than pleasant weather. The freezing wind was blowing a gale and we decided to stay in for the night. I woke at 6 am (3 am Aussie time!) and saw out the window that dawn was breaking. How many more chances would I get to see the Church of the Good Shepherd at sunrise? In the car we got and The Mechanic and I went down to the lake. It was worth every freezing bit of wind to capture it.
After breakfast we soldiered on to Queenstown. Not a day too late, either, as that night, Lake Tekapo got 6 inches of snow! In QT we met up with American friends of mine who now live in Auckland. They were the reason this trip came to be in the first place, after they posted pics of their 5 day Milford Sound trek on facebook last year. After a yummy pizza lunch at The Cow we decided to head up the gondola to the luge. Nick LOVED it. I enjoyed the infamous view (from the top – in the gondola I sat with my back towards the view. Fear, again!).
That night we had a delicious dinner in town at Rata and followed it by money shots*** at two different bars and shuffleboard and beer at a good old American joint, Cowboy. Where else would 3 Americans and an Aussie go in QT? We were home by midnight though, which made us all feel rather old. That and the fact that we all “dressed for the weather” not “to look hot”.
The next day mum and Nick went on the steamboat to Walter Peak High Country Farm. A major disappointment (long story). Nick had a blast though. Wouldn’t it be great to have kids’ expectations of things? Everything is awesome and you’d never be disappointed. We took the opportunity to go with our friends to Arrowtown and Amisfield Winery. It was so great to get to spend some time with them.
On the way out of town the next morning, I told my husband to go jump off a bridge. So he did. The AJ Hackett bungy bridge that is. He made it look so easy and not at all scary. Watching his video back, I almost wonder if I could have done it myself. Easy to say that while I’m 2000 kms away and in no danger of being forced off the bridge.
I was a bit sad to leave QT and would have liked one more day. But we had to make our way to Te Anau for our overnight stay prior to driving out to Milford Sound. Te Anau was small, peaceful and beautiful. And it’s also in danger of being wiped off the map because there is talk of building a tunnel from QT to Milford Sound, completely bypassing Te Anau for all tourists. I’ve seen enough of Disney Pixar’s Cars to know that would be devastating for the people of Te Anau. I signed the petition to stop it.
To say I was apprehensive about the drive to Milford Sound is an understatement. I’d read all kinds of things and a lot of recommendations to take the bus. I was glad we didn’t. The road wasn’t THAT bad. A little hairy in places maybe, but we took our time and stopped often – when and where we wanted, because we had our own car. My husband, bless him, did all the driving. Unfortunately that meant he missed most of the scenery.
Once to the sound, we had a few hours to kill before boarding the Milford Mariner, our accommodation for the night. Due to a storm, we didn’t actually moore in the sound, we went back to the wharf. That was fine by me, no rocking motion to make me sick! The weather was rotten and there was thunder and lightning throughout dinner. We had rain overnight. The good thing about that was that the waterfalls were flowing! The next morning, the cloud had lifted enough that we could see much more of the peaks that create this gorgeous fiord. At one stage the boat cruised close to the rocks, the engines went silent, and so did the 30 people on board, soaking it all. It was truly a magical place, topped off by dolphins swimming along beside the boat on our way back into port. Nick was absolutely thrilled! We all were!
As we left Milford Sound I was overwhelmed by the natural beauty. It’s a place I’d love to visit often, but expenses, flying, holidays etc. won’t allow that obviously. It’s a place that photos just don’t do any justice for. It is something you have to see with your own eyes, hear with your own ears, and feel with your own soul.
Stay tuned for the second half of our trip. Will anything ever compare to Milford Sound? (Probably not!).
* Still unsure why it is of flying. I’ve flown all over the world. It’s never been this bad. Not sure if it’s more an afraid of “dying” thing or lack of control, lack of knowledge, but I’d like to get to the bottom of it.
** That’s what I’m worried about – LIFE being over before I know it!
*** A money shot is made up of a few different liqueurs tequila (?), banana and cinnamon It probably varies slightly from bar to bar, but it tastes like heaven in your mouth. I had 3 and could have done another 3 (at least!).
All photographs mine except one from AJ Hackett of The Mechanic’s bungy.