Return to Fiordland… still got nothing….

10 Dec

Wednesday

It’s my last free day in New Zealand – bus tomorrow and then fly to Tasmania on Friday at silly o’clock.

So I’m off on an early bus to Doubtful Sound.  Doubtful is the second largest fjord in NZ – you can fit Milford into just one of the fjord arms.  It’s called Doubtful because James Cook was ‘doubtful’ they could get enough wind to get the ship out to sea again if they visited.

A quick trip on a shuttle to Lake Manapouri … the name has no meaning what so ever in Maori and was a map maker’s error.  We hop onto what must be the best commute in the world – the power station workers travel the hour each way across the lake every day, under the command of our captain, Chris….who happens to be from Essex.

It’s beautiful again, and amongst the lake’s 30+ islands is a pest free zone where the only residents are the native birds, lizards and bats – a continual battle is fought to keep the non native deer, stoats and more off the island.  The Kiwis are very protective of their environment and are continually trying to eradicate the foreign introductions which have no natural predators and spread like topsy – whether that’s animals or plants – pine trees, lupins and broom are all weeds over here.

(Apparently, when they decided to round up the red deer, they used to have jumpers who would leap from helicopters onto unsuspecting deer and wrestle them to the ground.  The untimely demise of one jumper whose steed leapt off a cliff led to the introduction of the net gun)

 

Off the ferry, then, and into another bus for the trip to Doubtful Sound.  The bus driver is Chris’ brother, also called Chris, and also from Essex – and the family resemblance is striking.  Another gorgeous trip with lots of stops for photo opportunities up and over the Wilmot Pass.

 

And onto the boat with Capn’ Bruce (there had to be one before I got to Oz) and ship’s mate Chris, another brother with a striking resemblance to the other two.  Hold on a second…

 

It’s a small boat this time, unlike the 60+ capacity boats I’ve been on (and the day cruises with capacities of hundreds).  So we take our time on the Sound today.  The fjord is massive, of course – the cliffs are nearly a kilometer tall in places, and the bottom of the fjord is nearly half a kilometer down.  Watching the sonar is like watching a blank TV screen.

No seals today, and no dolphins, either – but we spot a couple of plucky Blue Penguins swimming in the sound – the tiniest penguins – these are only around 30cm tall.

(not my pic)

 

We can turn off the engine and sail for a while, and the silence is incredible.  The only sounds are the bell birds in the trees above.  Capn’ Bruce even entrusts the wheel to me for a bit – and we’re still afloat!

I seem to have a huge number of pictures with the same theme – huge towering granite cliffs framed by huge towering granite cliffs with huge towering granite cliffs in the background.  Sometimes the huge towering granite cliffs have more huge towering granite cliffs towering over them.

There are so many waterfalls here that not all of them have a name.  Ask the right question at the right time, and you might get one named after you (no, there isn’t a ‘Tim Falls’ on the Sound – I wouldn’t do that to New Zealand)

So after a few hours on the water, we pull up back to the quayside – onto the bus, back over the pass, and into another boat to cross Manapouri.  I could enjoy this sort of commute… so I face into the 30 knot winds and enjoy the final scenery… tomorrow the journey home begins….

 

Thursday

Back on a bus – to my surprise it’s a different route back – gone are the lakes and the mountains to be replaced by rolling hills and coastline.  I’m suffering from camerashock, where beauty overload means it’s impossible to take another photograph – everything is just as spectacularly gorgeous as everything else.  Up through Dunedin, home of the Cadbury Factory in NZ, through Oamaru, home of some very cool steampunk sculptures and a penguin colony.

And then, finally, dinner with some Unilever colleagues.  Peter and Linda moved out here a year or so ago, and are now busy making their mark in New Zealand.  Up at 4:30 (thanks Peter) (with a raging hangover) for a flight to Sydney – next stop Hobart…. what with timezone changes and such, my 6:30am flight finally arrives in Hobart at 4pm…

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One Response to “Return to Fiordland… still got nothing….”

  1. Nikki Rose December 11, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    It’s all still so breathtakingly beautiful, Tim – I ran out of words a long time ago that might do justice to your photos and all that magnificent scenery…

    Think I would want to stay in NZ for good, I’ve decided ;o)

    Be good – ish
    N xx

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