Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rain Makes Lovely Waterfalls

Friday morning (the day the world was supposed to end...apparently) we woke up bright and early at 6am to head to breakfast and catch the bus in to town.  We were supposed to meet at the stop at 7:05 first I ran to Starbucks to grab a coffee and call mom and dad (to tell them the world hadn't ended) and Andrew ran to the store to grab some sandwiches for lunch.  We boarded the bus and headed off towards Fiorland on a beautiful journey through hills and flowers and natural trees and brush.  We stopped halfway at a town called Te Anau...very adorable and on a lake :) We got to get off the bus to have a look around and as we did we did some shopping :) Andrew found a beenie (he's been searching for ages) that was reversible and made of wool, possum, and silk.  No nylon. Which was the goal.  I also stopped at a store selling Jade...the stone of NZ that the Maori people came looking for...the shop had one of the largest Jade stones in the world inside it!  Got a few things there and then we were on our way again.

Once we entered in to Fiordland National Park you could see the difference in scenery.  Our bus driver was very educational, telling us that they get 8 meters of rain per year (about 24 feet)...insane.  He said it rains about 200 days out of the year.  That's even more crazy considering they close down the entrance to Milford Sound when it rains. Meaning no one in and no one out because of problems with rock fall and avalanches.  We got really lucky, because as we were driving, the entrance tunnel was closed...but the weather cleared just in time and it opened for us around noon so that we could enter in to Milford Sound.  The day before the tour group actually had to go home without seeing it...crazy!

Anywho...We entered Fiordland National Park and stopped a few places along the way for some photos.  The first was at a lovely river with lupins and mountains with waterfalls all around.  Andrew made me smile as we were driving along as he said my quote of the day "I think I may be a bit of a tree hugger...".  Who'd a thunk it. ;) At the second stop I snapped a picture of a local bird, the Tui, as we were walking around the Mirror Lakes.  The Mirror lakes were pretty awesome...when the weather is right you can see the reflection of the mountains in the water.  The sign is even upside down so you can see it's reflection ;) Cheeky.

After Mirror Lakes we hit "the great divide" where everything goes from close up rainforest and distant views of mountains to cliff mountains shooting straight in to the road with waterfalls and snow all around.  It was amazing.  It felt as if I was driving in to a fairytale world.  The bus was great because the windows were huge and they even had a skylight window at the top of the bus so you could see in all angles.

As we drove through we did a few stops where it was permitted.  A lot of places you can't pull over because of frequent rock fall and avalanches as I mentioned before.  Andrew made me smile again when we stopped and one of the guys on the bus was smoking at a stop and flicked his cigarette before getting in the bus...Andrew goes "Hey! Pick that up!" And he did :) My littler tree hugging litter police (don't kill me Andrew I'm just kidding haha).

Anyways...the drive continued on, curving through the mountains and through the tunnel that led us to the other side of Milford Sound.  On the other side of the tunnel there was similar steep rocky mountains and waterfalls and then it opened up at the end at Milford Sound.  Which actually isn't a 'sound' at all...its a fiord (thank you helpful bus driver) :) Once off the boat we wandered around waiting for the cruise to load up.  It was a decent sized boat...but the deck areas were a bit strange.  We started to notice the completely different climate now...our driver mentioned that the weather can be a mystery...changing completely from Queenstown to Te Anau to Fiordland National Park and in to Milford Sound.  Each place was actually different. Crazy! It was beautiful out in Queenstown...a bit cloudy in Te Anau...cloundy again in Fiordland National Park...super cloudy once we got further...and then all clouds once we got in to the Sound.  Man was it cold and windy.  So I snuggled up in my leather jacket, rain coat, and a warm hat and we got on the boat.

Once on the boat we tried standing on the deck but it was just so windy and cold.  I was dying.  It was horrible! The clouds covered most of everything and it was just feeling awful.  Couldn't believe we had come all this way and it was like this...We got to the Tasman Sea and then turned around...and just as I was feeling as though the boat was a bit of a waste, the weather took an amazing turn for the better! The wind was completely different now that we were in a different direction...and the clouds started to open and saw blue skys and sun! It was BEAUTIFUL! I couldn't believe it! So perfect...So back though the sound we went, passing gorgeous waterfalls and little sleeping seals on rocks. It was perfect.

We arrived back and got straight on the bus home.  The bus home was a quick one...we made only one potty break stop and just went straight back to Queenstown.  Once in Queenstown it was about our journey that day was a full 12 hours :) Crazy crazy...

Andrew and I decided that since we survived the end of the world, we would try the "bar crawl" was that interesting...We started at 8pm a bar called Altitude Bar...definitely a singles bar.  The decor was...artistic. Graffiti all over the walls...making me feel like I needed to have a few piercings haha. We had no idea what the details were of the 'crawl'.  All we knew was the starting point and that you got a drink at each stop, totaling 6 bars, and there was free food (my reason for going hahaha).  Turns out it started at 9pm, so we were an hour early. People slowly started showing up and then the whole thing started.  We learned that we go as a big group of everyone on the 'crawl' and we stop at each bar for 45 minutes.  So we were staying at the current bar for yet another hour...wish we had known there was a starting time haha.

After the first bar we went off to the next...we quickly realized that everyone on the crawl was a 'single' and we were the only couple.  That made things difficult. No one wanted to talk to us! Haha. The only time we got people to have a conversation was when Andrew left to go to the restroom and a guy came to hit on me. Once Andrew returned...he would try to strike up a conversation, but I guess that was awkward and not what they were there for, so they quickly left haha.  After a short while, we figured out this wasn't our thing at we went to the next bar waiting for the free food...once we got the food we decided to high tail it out of there and head home for the night...I think thats the last crawl we'll do haha.

The next day we woke up early so that I could do a work meeting.  After my meeting we decided to head home...

After its all said and done I would have to say that Queenstown is a must see.  It's definitely expensive...and we have some holes in our pockets after that one...but it was well worth it.  Fiordland National Park was also a must see.  I'm not sure how the flights are in and out of Milford Sound...but I would recommend trying to at least bus one way.  The drive there was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life.  It's going to be quite hard to top ;) So for those planning to go to NZ some MUST go to Queenstown, Milford Sound, and Fiordland National Park...oh and one of the lakes...Tekapo or Pukaki ;)

My next post will likely be after Christmas.  We're currently planning a trip to the top of the South Island for New Years...but hopefully I can get a post in before that...I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

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