New Zealand- Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 371 (181)

Te Anau

Monday 14th March (2005)

Before bidding farewell to the adrenaline capital of the world this morning, we drove back up to the bird sanctuary to see about visiting the resident kiwis. The cost of admission was NZ$20 (€11,60) each. This was more expensive that both of us remembering seeing advertising for but the real kicker was the fact that we wouldn’t be able to take photos of the kiwis. The problem is that they are nocturnal birds and so to allow people the chance to see them during the day, a false night-time enclosure has been created for them. Flash photography is not allowed and neither of us has a tripod. There will be opportunities elsewhere in New Zealand to see kiwis, including the daytime variety, so we decided to give it a miss and head off towards Te Anau instead. After filling up with fuel, this is what we did.

The drive over to Te Anau was predictably boring but the two-hour or so drive passed by faster than we expected and was mainly on relatively straight roads. Our hostel of choice is a collection of rather old buildings and our unit on the second floor consists of a common living room, kitchen and bathroom with three bedrooms. It’s quite airy and a rather nice place, even if the girl at the front desk was having a bad day today.

Te Anau is nothing like I imagined it to be. It sits aside a very nice lake and seems fairly modern considering that most towns we’ve passed through out in the middle of nowhere look like they are stuck in time. There is a strangely relaxed and laid back feel to the place. I quite like it so far.

As we often do, the first thing we did after checking in and unloading the car and our backpacks was to seek out the town’s information office to get our bearings on what the town has to offer. Scenic flights and all the other usual outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking and tramping feature heavily on the agenda here. The two other main stays are the two and a half our round trip across the lake to visit the glow-worm caves and a scenic and less adrenaline-pumped jet boat ride to take in the surrounding natural vistas, including some of the Lord of the Rings filming locations. We pondered both of these but in the end decided against either. The problem was mostly timing with it already being late in the day today and the fact that we have to leave by noon tomorrow to make our Milford Sound cruise. There are other places around the country where we can see glow-worms and there are also plenty of Lord of the Rings filming locations to be seen on the North Island.

Since it was such a nice day, we wandered into town and soaked up some of the glorious sunshine and relaxed atmosphere. Using the map we picked up at the information office, we checked out some of the restaurants here in town. Pretty much everything here is on one main road in the middle of town and everything is walkable. Te Anau is just about big enough to have a few clothing shops and Sandy was having lots of fun window-shopping. After figuring out where everything was, we headed back to the hostel to eat the packed lunch we made this morning. An afternoon nap also seemed like a good idea, as we are finding so often to be the case now.

Wanting to get a bit more active again, we set off back into town and watched by the lake as the one small water plane ferried passengers on their brief scenic flights from the lake to the surrounding areas. One of the decisions we have to make on a daily basis is what and where to eat. For backpackers, we tend to eat in much less than we eat out. Sandy had another hankering for a steak and I thought I’d give the roast lamb a try today so we found a nice restaurant and enjoyed yet another slap up meal. The meat was gloriously washed down with a banana split between the two of us. Ah, the humble life of a budget backpacker. At just about NZ$60 (€34,80), however, there was nothing budget about the bill at all. Still, it was a very nice meal in a very nice restaurant and we rounded the evening off by sitting beside the lake and watching the sunset.

A short while ago, as I was sitting here writing up this daily log, both Sandy and I felt the building starting the gently sway from side to side. It did this for nearly a minute and I’m not sure that we didn’t feel yet another earthquake. Along with the one we felt in Datong in China, which makes this the second such occurrence of an earthquake that we’ve experienced on this trip so far.