Journal of a visit to New Zealand, via Singapore

The Land of the Long White Cloud
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This page last updated: 29th November 2005.
Day 13: Te Anau Map

Day 13 I look out first thing in the morning and see the sun rising over the snow-peaked mountains. Mark arrives at 8.30 a.m. with a basket. As well as cereal, fresh fruit and toast, it includes bacon, fried bananas and waffles with syrup. We get our laundry done and say goodbye to our hosts before leaving in the late morning.

We get our first spot of rain just as we stop to view a waterfall called Roaring Meg. It remains drizzly with periods of sunshine for the rest of the day.

Outside Queenstown we give a lift to a girl from London who is in New Zealand for the season working on the overnight cruise ships out of Milford Sound. She tells us that while it has been very hot and sunny recently, normally this area gets an awful lot of rain. She is staying in Te Anau with other workers from the ships. After a brief stop in Mossburn for petrol and sandwiches, we arrive mid-afternoon at Radfords Lakeview Motel.

This is a modern motel and we have a very nice clean suite on the ground floor. Christine goes for a lie-down while I explore the town on foot. I walk down the front of the lake past the floatplanes and into the town centre. It is a cosy little town with a great variety of shops. It is noticeably free of litter. Quite a few of the shops have signs up in Chinese as well as English. Later I go out in the car for a takeaway coming back with venison-burgers and chips. They are OK but not particulary impressive.

In the evening we are booked to go with Fiordland Travel to visit the glowworm caves. We arrive early at the office, but then find ourselves going to the wrong pier. The boat is very full and as it is now dark, there is very little to see on the trip across the lake.

At the Cavern House we are shown a video that explains the geology of the area and tells us about the life-cycle of glowworms. We are divided up into four groups of a dozen or so people and led by a guide into the limestone caves. The tour involves a fair bit of walking, climbing and bending under low rock. We also have to climb into a barge-like boat, which for Christine with her bad knees and ankles proves somewhat difficult. From the boat we ascend a staircase by the side of a waterfall and then at the end of a walkway board a second boat. These boats are propelled on wires underneath the water. On the sides of the cave and on the roof are thousands of glowworms. Photography is prohibited and visitors requested to keep perfect silence in the boat. The only sound is the rushing of water, and the occasional clunk of the boat. It is an awesome and magical sight, especially when the boat reaches the main grotto.

Tea and coffee are provided in the Cavern House, while we wait for the boat back to Te Anau. It is pitch-black for the return and everyone just huddles in the boat trying to sleep. It is going up to midnight before we get back to the motel, extremely tired.

Journal - Day 14 Photographs - Day 13