Archive for the ‘Te Anau’ Category

We walked home last night after our lovely meal with John and Angela, a feeble attempt to calm the girls’ excitement.  Fortunately, once in bed they fell quiet very quickly and were still sleepy and tired this morning.  It’s a travel day today, so they could have a rest in the car.

At around 9.45am we left our comfy Te Anau apartment and headed up north to our next destination, Portobello, Otago Peninsula.

Our first stop was at Bracken Hall Cafe in Mossburn.  It was recommended to us 9 years ago by Bill Jackson (Tim’s colleague) and I fancied a coffee.  The girls settled for a slice of chocolate cake and Tim and I shared a lemon and cream cheese muffin – freshly baked!  We had a little snoop around the shop but left empty handed and with full tummies.

Our plan was to have a lunch stop at Gore, but Lady TomTom had other ideas for us.  A little while before we would have reached Gore she sent us off the 94 into even quieter countryside.  It took us a few minutes before we realised she was probably making us bypass Gore.  We decided to disobey her and follow signs to Gore instead, only to find we reached the main road again at the other side of the town!  Urrrgh!!

We carried on down the “Presidential Highway” to Clinton, which was a pretty empty town.  No food outlets, a petrol station without petrol pumps – so hardly worth stopping in.

We had more luck in the next, much bigger town of Balclutha.  Driving down the main street we spotted a cople of petrol stations and a … Subway!  We had a relaxed lunch in our favourite sandwich bar (where the girls decided they wanted to sit separate from us), filled up the car and swapped drivers.

A rare stretch of motorway.

As we reached Dunedin we became slightly confused about Lady TomTom’s instructions so again we ignored her and decided to follow signs to Otago Peninsula.  Because we didn’t drive into Dunedin we missed the opportunity to stock up on some food.  Instead we halted at a little foodstore but only bought a bottle of milk as none of the other items looked anywhere near appetising.  We carried on along the windy road, at one point having to reverse uphill to let a big coach pass on the narrow road.

Just before afternoon tea time we found Rose Cottage (after overshooting it first).  A beautiful, three bedroom house with lovely gardens packed with scented roses.  The girls chose their beds, Tim and I chose our bedroom and explored the garden and little wendy house.  I know it sounds boring, but one of the first things I did was put a load of washing in as my clothes got covered in tomato ketchup last night.

Tim discovered another Shrek movie in the drawer which the girls were keen to watch, and we grown-ups enjoyed it too. Time for supper, bathtime for the girls and catching up on diaries.  Soon after each of the girls chose another four cuddly toys to sleep with (there was a good selection of cuddly toys in their bedroom) they crawled into bed and quickly went quiet.

We’re hoping for a dry and sunny day tomorrow and plan to do several things as Thursday might be quite a washout.

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Bailiez Restaurant

A morning of drizzle and time for catching up again. Another laundry load to be done, an abortive mission to the library to connect the laptop (the library doesn’t open until 1pm on Mondays) and two new magazines from the newsagents to occupy the girls – ‘Creme (NZ’s #1 teen mag!)’ for pre-pre-teen Hannah and the entirely worthy ‘Kidz Mag’ for Ellen, apparently a NZ National Geographic clone. The former is a junior version of those vacuous gossip mags and the latter has a full page spread of the Gum Emperor Moth emerging from its cocoon, as well as something about dolphins. (Each girl made her choice virtually instantaneously.)

For lunch we had our least enjoyable sweetcorn of the trip so far; they must have been shrivelled and old inside their green sheathes when we bought them in the supermarket. Then a short way along the lakefront to the Wildlife Centre where they keep a lone, ageing takahe (endangered flightless parrot) along with various other New Zealand birds (one time when the adjectival ‘kiwi’ would be misleading).

The takahe often flops out on the ground for long periods of time and visitors are advised to let it be. But when we passed by it was having a good day; it chatted to us and hobbled over to see us by the fence. We then moved on to the fat wood-pigeons, a pretty red-and-green parakeet and a pair of Canada geese (okay, not especially NZ). A pleasant walk along by the lakeside and back again, then the brief drive back to our apartment.



As we passed Lake View Holiday Park we thought we’d see if my parents were back from their Milford Sound trip. Sure enough they were; just 24 hours after our excursion they had hit the best weather there in ages; scarcely any rain at all, calm waters, sunshine and blue skies, clear views…

We stayed a while to catch up and to do some internetty stuff (another slow WiFi connection, though) and arranged to go out for supper in Te Anau.

Ellen’s photos from the rose garden.



And so it was that at 6pm we returned to Bailiez Restaurant (see what I mean about that terminal ‘z’ everywhere?) on the main street where we had the most memorable meal of our 2000-01 trip. Same management and the same Taste NZ Platter for Two; not the same price, unfortunately. We are not in the habit of repeating ourselves (apart from the top attractions in order to show the girls) but we were tempted back by the fact that this dining experience had stuck in our minds while so many others had faded into obscurity.

We ordered the Platter to share among the four Global Prices (in case we’re not quite global enough already…) while my parents chose lamb shanks and steak. To quote: ‘This dish takes a little time. Consists of grilled fillet steak, venison, lamb steak, shrimps, salmon, sole fillet, all with appropriate sauces and vegetables, potatoes and salad.’ Twenty minutes later (not too long) a vast wooden platter appeared weighed down with six paving slabs of meat, two whole sole topped with salmon hunks and shrimps the size of king prawns. Er, and could we have some plates, please?

Yes, the food entirely lived up to our recollection but the service required a bit of a nudge every now and then. Kirsten had a ketchup mishap while attempting to open a peculiar little double plastic pack; it exploded spectacularly and uniquely in her direction, spraying her cardigan, yellow top, face and glasses. The waitress put a stop to any further attempts on our part to get tomato sauce out of the sachets; she explained that you point the package down at the plate and then squeeze it in two to make it burst. (The printed instructions did not help at all, and we’ve never seen anything like this before.) I wonder how many other diners have had this happen?

Thanks to the help of the girls and also Grandad in finishing off the shrimp-prawns, we got through our main course and still had space left for dessert. A two-cup plunger coffee (could we have milk and a second cup, please?) and a slice of banoffee pie to share – the perfect way to round off our gastronomic revisitation.

The girls read out quizzes from their magazines; their multiple-choice answers showed Ellen to be shrewd and careful with her money while Hannah would go out and spend, spend, spend… (In reality they are both good savers.) Ellen’s eyes lit up as if she had seen yet more New Year’s Eve nibbles when Grandad put her through her financial paces; “Do another one!” she enthused. “If I wanted you to look after my money and give me back even more money at the end, what would you do?” Quick as a flash she replied “I’d take your money to the bank and get more money out” (she’s only six) followed by “give me all your money then; how much have you got?” So it’s going to be Hannah – fashion designer and Ellen – financial advisor.

Tomorrow we cross to the east coast and the Otago Peninsula; albatrosses, some delightful beaches and good weather, we hope.

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Oh what a night… There we were, expecting the main source of disturbance in our cabin to be from 55 people marginally younger than ourselves staying up late and partying. Well, we hardly knew the Contiki lot were there, but Mother Nature certainly got herself noticed. Rain pelting down on the deck which is also our ceiling; thunder reverberating around the cliffs of the sound; lightning illuminating the wall opposite the port-hole; waves colliding with the hull (our wall) as the wind picked up; a mysterious metal-on-rubber squeaking which might have been the hull against the yellow buoy floating above our anchor.

A patchy night’s sleep, shall we say, but we still managed to haul ourselves up before 7am to get a good place in the loo queue and to grab a seat for breakfast. Kirsten and I passed on the full cooked breakfast while the girls were grudgingly served just toast and sausages (plus bacon for Hannah). Tinned peaches went down a treat for those of us with scratchy throats.

As soon as they had cleared away empty plates it was announced (as another sick joke) that we would shortly leave the protection of Milford Sound to experience the 3-metre swell of the Tasman Sea. (The thick sea mist ensured that there was nothing to see there.) I guess those adventure types just love having a full fat fried breakfast after a night of drinking and then immediately being tossed up and down like some slow-motion marine bungy. Kirsten did not feel at all well and soon zoomed to the loos, while many of the Contikites seemed particularly subdued.

The girls found it fun initially, but they were glad when the boat turned to seek refuge in the sound once again. (Not really a sound but a fiord, of course; it’s a flooded glacial valley, not a flooded river valley.) Soon it was time to get ready for our early exit to visit the Milford Deep Underwater Observatory. Hannah, Ellen and I were the only passengers to disembark because the observatory takes an extra 45 minutes, too much of a delay for members of organised tours. However, the ‘rich cousin’ ship, Milford Mariner (which is twice as expensive) provided another ten or so people for our tour.



We waited in the reception area before being led down a double spiral staircase to the viewing area 10 metres below sea level. The observatory is a bit like a champagne cork weighed down at the narrower end so that just the top remains above the water; it was too big to fit through the Homer Tunnel so they towed it round the coast from Invercargill and then filled it with concrete on-site to sink it sufficiently. The viewing windows are nearly six inches thick but divers clean them every three days to maintain visibility.

So what’s special about the site and what can you see? The huge rainfall runoff into Milford Sound gives it a freshwater layer at least 2.5 metres thick sitting atop the denser seawater. But the opacity of the fresh water (tannins from plants?) fools marine life into thinking it’s living at a greater depth than it really is. The upshot is that you can see some sea creatures at an unusually modest depth; 10m instead of 40-50m.

The circular viewing area is surrounded by underwater ‘hanging baskets’ (which can be raised or lowered) colonised by tubeworms, sea urchins, corals, etc., and these in turn attract fish. Once we were down there they dimmed the internal lights and turned on – er – floodlights in the water. Dozens and dozens of splendid perch (their name, not my adjective) as well as various other fish both large and small (sorry, can’t name them all). The girls loved looking out into this marine underworld and spotted some tiny transparent pulsating jellyfish-like creatures, the size of the tip of your little finger; apparently these are medusas.


After what seemed like barely enough time our guide announced that our taxi boat was waiting, so we climbed the ‘up’ helix of stairs and ten minutes later we were back at the terminal to meet Kirsten (who was happy not to venture ten metres under water). Thus concluded our Milford Sound Experience.

(Kirsten)  Whilst waiting in the terminal for Tim and the girls to return from their underwater adventure, I slowly recovered from the sea-sickness.  I was getting pretty hungry by now and contemplated buying one of those huge chocolate cookies.  As I was wondering whether to spend $2 on a biscuit, a mother and her two younger sons (about 9-11yrs old) walked past.  One of the boys complained that he was starving.  I could sympathise with him and we discussed the different types of cookies and had a little chat with his mother.  A couple of minutes later this hand suddenly appeared in front of my face, in it one of those huge double chocolate cookies.  It was one of the boys whose mother very kindly bought me a biscuit!
When the girls returned about 5 minutes later they reminded me of a bag of lollipops in my rucksack.  I quickly decided to return the kind favour and gave the boys a selection of our lollipops.  There still are kind and generous people in the world …

I must say it’s some masterpiece of marketing to take what must be one of the wettest and least accessible corners of New Zealand and promote it so successfully as a must-see destination. Apparently they’ve only had two sunny days there this summer, while 140mm of rain fell yesterday alone. It’s hardly a no-brainer: “Where shall we go today? I know – somewhere with spectacularly high rainfall, unreliable views and sandflies.”

Yes, the scenery is breathtaking, but we only know that from the previous time we visited. The unremitting sheets of rain and low cloud obscured any real sense of the scale of the setting, and unless you are out on open deck you aren’t ‘there’; you’re viewing but a fragment of the whole reality through a window, and that’s just TV. Our guide admitted to feeling sorry for all yesterday’s day trippers who had seen nothing at all, such was the cloud density. But there were no refunds, I’m sure.

As for our sharing the boat with Contiki, for the crew it was akin to supervising a class of 30 pupils, only two of whom are especially interested in what you’re saying. So we had lots of jollying along to keep the troublemakers out of mischief but only occasional half-apologetic fragments of real information which fell largely on deaf ears. Also some awkwardness at the realisation that these 18 to 35-year-olds have – by definition – chosen not to travel with the likes of us, and yet here we are.

The Sound of Silence? No chance, sadly. We didn’t come away overcome with the majesty and grandeur of the setting, we didn’t have the opportunity to savour the solitude, the tranquillity. It was a busy, crowded and expensive B&B with coastal views on a rainy day, with added sea-sickness. I suspect that an overnight trip to the lesser-frequented Doubtful Sound would have been an altogether more satisfying experience. (Good call, Chrislyn…)

Back to today; I drove back to Te Anau through more rain and we all arrived in varying states of exhaustion, so a few bakery purchases for a quick lunch and then a quiet afternoon in our apartment. The girls watched a DVD of Alice in Wonderland, the all-star 1972 version with Michael Crawford as the White Rabbit. Shocking nowadays to see such blatant baby-shaking in the Cook/Duchess scene; it certainly featured a real (and really upset) baby. How times change.

I, kea.

Our last full day here tomorrow; we’ll see what the weather is like and how much energy we have. Maybe the Takahe wildlife park just down the road. This week has been something of a washout in several ways, but these things happen.

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A dry, almost sunny morning for once so we drove down to the lakeside to find out about the shore-to-shore swim we had read about. En route we bumped into my parents who were just off to the glow-worm caves by boat; they seem to have done far more than we have in even less time here, but there again I’m only slowly hauling myself back into the realm of feeling like doing anything at all (I’ve progressed from a dream-warping fever and a throat of concrete embedded with rusty, spiky metal to merely finding it uncomfortable to swallow). So please forgive me if I’m not at my sprightliest.

Anyway, we just caught the swimmers’ briefing (no, we didn’t walk in on their changing room) and saw a huddle of young to veteran swimmers, all clad in posh triathlon-standard bodysuits to keep out the chill of the water. Somewhat bizarrely, the little’uns were to be shipped across to the far side of the lake and made to swim the full width (well over 1km?) while the adults merely faced one 800-metre lap hugging the shore from one pink buoy up to another and back again.

The adults set off and soon strung themselves out along the course, probably more desperate to be out of the 9C lake than anything else. Kirsten had no problem in declining the chance to swim in New Zealand; she’s been there and done that and has no desire to plunge into rivers or lakes again.

We caught the first adult finishers and overheard the news that the junior swim had been called off; the conditions were simply too rough over on the other side. Perhaps that’s just the way over here – throw children in the deep end literally and metaphorically.

It wasn’t brilliantly warm on land either, so we adjourned to the library to grab our free WiFi while the girls gobbled up a few more books and magazines (also for free – a most satisfactory arrangement). Then to Fresh Choice supermarket to buy some pastries to warm up for lunch.

Then we gathered our overnight things for our Milford trip; one bag each including both fleeces, waterproof jacket and trousers, warm hats, gloves and scarves. Kirsten drove the 120km from Te Anau – just one long road so we only turned on the SatNav to see how far we had left. It’s a measure of our travelling that an 80-mile journey up into the mountains and down the other side is a mere short hop for us now. And it was more straightforward than we expected – much of it straight, and all of it forward…

We paused at a few places on the way but the developing drizzle put us off anything but a quick photo as opposed to a countryside walk; we’d probably get wet enough on the other side of the pass. Just as we remember from last time, sweeping swathes of lupins brightening up an otherwise dismal day, and white water aplenty in rivers or cliffside cascades.


The Mirror Lakes would be unspecular and unspectacular in the rain so we pressed on past Lake Gunn and along the Hollyford River up to the Homer Tunnel. A pause at the traffic lights (which are on a 15-minutes cycle!) to admire the pile of ice/snow to our left and a Far Eastern minibus party delicately tiptoeing up the slope – no time for a glacier walk?

The light turned green and Kirsten bravely followed the car in front; she doesn’t do underwater places and she doesn’t do dark places, and this was an ill-lit tunnel. Its main claim to fame is that on April 1st each year there is a nude running race from one end to the other; I bet there’s often a bitter wind whistling up the pass.

Past a parking bay with a resident kea (cheeky and destructive parrot) and down a hairpin bend or three giving views over an entire rock face streaming with multiple waterfalls. At last into the tourist settlement of Milford where we searched in vain for a parking spot closer than 10 minutes’ walk from the terminal. (Apparently you can park in the coach bays, but only after 4pm – we were much too early.)

So we donned full waterproofs and trudged through quite a downpour; the last little bit of the walkway is covered, but it’s too late by then… We seemed better prepared than most; one man had a plastic bag tied around each shoe and many other had cheap disposable transparent ponchos (sold at some overinflated price, no doubt).

We checked in with about an hour to spare, then I decided I’d be better off with my walking boots rather than my holey shoes; so back through the deluge, into the car to change footwear and steam up the windows then back to the terminal.

No sign of the Kon-Tiki group, though we had seen their coach pause in Te Anau before we departed. And thanks to some quick internet research, I discovered that they are in fact Contiki Tours (with a C) for 18 to 35-year-olds, but not particularly the singles market. They offer all the adventure sports stuff as well as ‘doing’ Milford Sound, Fox Glacier, Christchurch, Kaikoura, etc. Is 35 the new 30 now? Though I somehow suspect there won’t be many group members near the upper age limit. Their tours run for 12-15 days for the seemingly bargain price of a little over £50 a day.

About 4pm the Contiki coach rolled in; *they* get dropped off right outside the covered entrance to the terminal, of course. Fifty-five buzzing twenty-somethings disgorged into the atrium, mostly unsuitably attired but not unduly alarming at first sight.

At twenty past we gave in our laminated boarding passes and filed onto the Milford Wanderer. Cabin Q for the Prices; where’s that? The wrong staircase to start with, then smug reassurance when we discovered we were in a separate section at the front of the ship – no noisy neighbours, and also a safe distance from the main saloon area with its bar. We were so near the front pointy bit (impressed with my nautical prowess?) that the very walls of the cabin curved in and under and there were special trapezoidal mattresses to fit.

Our presence was requested in the saloon so we went up, out, right, left and in again to find that all the ten nice horse-shoe seating areas had been grabbed by the last of the Contikans. We occupied the central long table instead, complete with maps of the area under the glass top. (There’s a Price’s Point somewhere to the south, we learned.) The safety briefing – pretty brief – then Sean Tell (no, I mean Chantelle) laid down the law to the youngsters: “Don’t treat us like a pub; this isn’t a Booze Cruise and there’s no BYO [bring your own alcohol] allowed. I’ll close the bar if there’s any problem.” Perhaps I should have warned the crew about Nana and Grandad…

Outside it grew dismaller and dismaller. Through the grey cloud and rain you could glimpse grey waterfalls channelling down grey wet cliffs to the grey fiord (that’s the spelling here – well, of both words).


As some kind of sick joke they then took the boat almost right under one mighty cascade so that the adventure sports types could get their money’s worth of moisture; consequently we got a saloon augmented by a draggle of sopping, steaming young men (for the most part). So then we needed the deck door open, letting in more cold, humid air.

In one corner inside we were curious about a set of sign-up lists on the windows. They were sadly not intended for us or the other two non-Contiki passengers (two Dutch girls), so we would be denied the optional extras of the Kawarau bungy, skydiving, the canyon swing, the Shotover Jet, quad biking or white-water rafting. So this explains the ‘con’ in Contiki; it’s cheap to book, but to have any ‘fun’ will cost you extra. The ‘wuss factor’ ensures that if all the rest of your group elect for a bungy jump ($200?), you’ll have to join in too, and the ‘Billy No-Mates factor’ gets the entire group signing up for the ‘optional’ SkyLine restaurant meal in Queenstown (at $50 a head, from what I recall).

They served soup (a thick mushroom and capsicum concoction) early on, and then offered us kayaking, swimming or a ride in the tender craft as pre-dinner activities. The blokes did the swimming and paddling while the little boat had the four of us along with a group of shivering girls ill-dressed in flip-flops, shorts and a vest. I suppose the word ‘tender’ isn’t particularly macho. We were treated to a brief nature tour (although too many ‘sights’ were directly behind us) prefaced by the recurring “welcome to my office”. Not that I especially envy an office where you get between seven and nine metres of rain a year.

Dinner came along. A bit like school lunch; queue up for your plate, eat, then scrape the leftovers into a bin once you’ve had enough. Beef with veges (we’re going Kiwi) and mash followed by sticky date pudding with cookies-and-cream ice cream. When I asked for a small portion for the girls, I was told “Don’t worry – all the leftovers are going in the bin anyway.”

As soon as dinner was over we retreated to the calm of our cabin, but as we were leaving we discovered the crew’s secret weapon against 18-35 groups – boardgames! They emerged from secret cubby-holes under seats; one title – “Fact or Crap” – gives the general idea. Apparently things later progressed to charades, so it’s a bit like Friday afternoon at the end of term with the fourth form.

We brushed teeth (the basins were very close to our quad bunk cabin) but the trek to the loo took us outside and right down to the other end of the boat; hope we all make it through the night.

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We spent our morning catching up with John and Angela, whilst the girls were busy reading, colouring, designing more dresses and playing with the sheep puzzle we bought at Puzzling World.

Tim was still not feeling very well, so I decided to take the girls out to the park and playground.  After lunch we packed the frisbee and ball and off we went.

First stop was Real Journeys Office where I needed to confirm our booking for our overnight cruise to Milford Sound.  When the girl checked our names on her computer screen she very casually said we would be sharing the boat with a group from Kontiki.  When I enquired what Kontiki was, she said “Oh, it’s a group of 18 – 35 year olds (55 of them!); just so you know.  They can be bit noisy!”  Of course, I wasn’t too pleased about it, but without me asking she did check availability on next day’s cruise, but to no avail.

After a good hour and a half outside in the biting wind we started to feel a bit chilly so headed back home.  We did have a good play with the frisbee in the park, though.

Once home, I told Tim about the cruise.  We started going through different options : Do we try a different boat/cruise?  Do we go to Doubtful Sound as opposed to Milford Sound?  Do we cancel and risk losing over $700? I decided to give them a call.  Because we had paid in full, we were entitled to change the cruise.  We could either choose to go on the “Mariner” on Sunday night and pay an extra whopping $720!  Or we could choose the daytrip to Doubtful Sound and receive a refund of a massive $80!  Neither option was ideal and we both felt it unfair that Real Journeys were unwilling to refund us the full price should we cancel our trip.  They knew at the time of booking that Kontiki would be there as the boat was already almost fully booked, and both Tim and I agree that they should have informed us then, not just over 24 hours before setting off.  This cruise was meant to be one of the highlights of our trip to the South Island and the girls were very much looking forward to spending a night on the boat.  We had a family discussion about it, and although three of us opted for the day excursion, in the end we have decided to give it a go and simply hope for the best – it might not be that bad after all …

After all this we were in need of nice cup of tea, before I was heading out again to get some painkillers and Lemsip for Tim and look for lightweight trekking trousers for me (to replace my light coloured, baggy trousers).

An hour later I returned with trousers, Nurofen and Panadol, but had to leave the Sudafed (sinus) in the pharmacy as I needed to show some sort of identification in order to buy them.  Apparently, they are controlled medication! 

Quiet time back home and Tim felt strong enough to venture out in the garden to soak up a little sunshine and fresh air.

View from the garden.


One of the girls’ favourite dishes for supper – leek/ham gratin with potatoes and four empty plates.  Later it was time for diaries (entries are getting slightly shorter) and emails to some friends.

I hope Tim will start to feel better soon so he’ll be able to enjoy Milford Sound!

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Taking it easy

As usual after a travel day (in this case two travel days in a row) we decided to take things easy.

Most of my morning was sorting out our washing.  It took me a little while to locate the laundry room, which is through a gap in the hedge behind the garden of apartment nr 3 (we’re in nr 1).  It cost us $2 for the use of the washing machine and an extra $4 for an hour’s worth of tumble drying.  It meant popping in and out of the laundry room all morning, but the main thing is that we have clean clothes again!

The girls spent their morning designing more dresses and watching a couple of animated DVDs.  Tim used this time to read through leaflets and edit photos to be put on the blog.

After lunch we risked popping into town in between showers.  The plan was to visit the library, but instead we ended up walking up and down the main street, visiting the i-site and buying a replacement fleece for Hannah.  She had outgrown her blue fleece that Oma gave (sleeves were getting way too short) and chose a pretty pink/grey fleece.  (Hopefully, it washes well.)

When we finally made it to the library we were pleasantly surprised to find that we could use our own laptop in a separate room and for as long as we wanted!  We could spend a whole day here if necessary at no cost.  Once the girls were settled with a book or magazine, we returned to the “laptop room” and set about our business of replying to urgent emails and updating the blog.

Whilst doing so, the room kept filling up with more and more travellers and the connection was so slow we decided not to put photos on just yet as that would have taken a very long time.

On our way back home we spotted Grandad crossing the road.  Ellen and I ran after him, and were later joined by Tim and Hannah.  It was nice to catch up with him but we were sorry find out they are staying in different accommodation to what they initially booked (that ended up being “a shed with three beds in”).  Hopefully they should be able to return to their first choice of accommodation during tomorrow afternoon.  They will pop in tomorrow morning and then we’ll find out more about their plans.

Tim wasn’t feeling too well, so he decided to return home with the girls while I popped into the supermarket for a few little things (cream, cake, etc).  Back home we had some tea and lemon cake, the girls watched another DVD and Tim had a well needed rest.

Carbonara for supper, and no room for dessert.  The girls quickly changed into their nighties, wrote their diaries and did some quiet playing/reading before bedtime.

For once I managed to write the blog before the girls went to bed, which meant Tim and I might have time to watch a grown-up DVD, if we  can stay awake that is.

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Small World

After our breakfast of heated up pains au chocolat we made our way to Te Anau via Queenstown. We had no tea as we couldn’t find a kettle in the Youth Hostel’s kitchen and the saucepans all smelled a bit funny!

Our room just visible on the right.

The drive to Queenstown was pretty scenic but also quite windy at times. Whilst driving through Queenstown in search of a car park I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to see this town again. It was quite busy and I felt like pressing on ahead.

Instead we parked in an underground car park ($2/hour) and made our way out. We weren’t sure which way to go or what we wanted to see or do. I spotted a Youth Hostel and decided we could pop in and ask reception there for a streetmap of QT or directions to the i-site.

While we were waiting our turn at reception, this lady came down the stairs and when she spotted us she exclaimed : “Oh my god, I have been reading your blog!”. I must have looked really puzzled, and although I heard the word “blog”, it didn’t immediately register. She repeated it again and then introduced herself as Chrislyn. Now that definitely rang a bell!

Chrislyn has been travelling around the world with her two lovely children – Rory (8) and Nora (5) whilst her husband is in Iraq, and has commented on our blog a couple of times and we have read about their adventures too.

I admire her a lot as she is travelling on her own with the children, which means making decisions on your own, doing all the driving, cooking, washing, etc … No-one to share the load with. She came across as very cheerful and kind.

Unfortunately we only managed to chat to each other for about 10 minutes as she had parcels to send back home and a shuttle bus to the airport to catch their plane to Australia. We quickly checked up on each other’s itinerary, though. Chrislyn, Rory and Nora will spend 4-5 months in Europe later this year and we really hope they will have time to come and see us.

Our meeting was just so spooky and, I believe, meant to happen. If we had taken a different road to QT and stopped to watch the bungee jumping (as planned), we wouldn’t have met them! If we had wandered around QT on our own or asked someone in the street for directions to the i-site, we wouldn’t have popped into the Youth Hostel and seen them!

For the rest of the day Tim and I kept saying to each other that we just couldn’t believe we met another RTW family who we had actually heard of. I have never believed in things that are meant to happen/be, but I’m beginning to wonder …

We found the i-site in the end further down the road and picked up some useful leaflets. We then made our way around the corner in search of lunch and walked straight past “Subway”, but no, the girls had spotted it too and begged us to have lunch there – so we did.

Then back to the car to drop off drinks and pick up extra fleeces as we were planning on going on the skyline gondola. We walked up the road, bought our gondola tickets and off we went up the mountain.

Nice encouraging sign as you head up for your bungee jump…

Once at the top we went to find the bungee jump platform. But after a good 5 minutes we were thinking of going back down as nobody seemed keen to jump. Just then a family with 4 kids turned up. The eldest daughter had bought her own bungee jump ticket (about £80 for 3 seconds of exhilaration!) and was getting pretty excited. I couldn’t say the same for her poor mother, who was feeling rather nervous. I’m glad to say the jump went really well, and the girl had great fun doing it. Hannah said she might do when she is older – apparently children as young as 10 are allowed to jump (as long as they are heavy enough!).




We then came down again in the gondola, although I reckon Tim would have liked to have come down the luge given half a chance. Both girls felt disappointed at the end; Hannah because we didn’t buy the souvenir photos ($35 for 5 photos) and Ellen because we weren’t going to visit Kiwi Birdlife Park (again too expensive, and there might be other opportunities to see kiwis). We returned to the car and cheered them up by letting them press the lift buttons and open the car boot and offering them a sweetie – they’re easily pleased!

Another two hour drive to Te Anau which went very smoothly. We had received no instructions on where to find the key to our apartment, even though Tim had emailed with a request for information a couple of days ago.

We turned up at 30 McKerrow Street to find the apartment locked. Tim decided to walk around the corner in search of a Redwood Apartments office, but instead found no. 32(!), which was the correct address. We did manage to find the key in the end and let ourselves in. The apartment has a sitting room, small table, small kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. We can park the car on the drive under cover and there is a good sized garden for the girls to play in.

After unloading the car, we recharged our batteries with some tea and biscuits before tackling the “Fresh Choice” supermarket to stock up for the week.

An easy dinner of fish, chips and baked beans followed by yoghurt topped with fresh banana and boysenberries. Then diaries for the girls and bedtime reading and time for the grown-ups to catch up on blog entries.
Te Anau sunset panorama

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