|After our night in Slope Point we headed north to Te Anau, the starting point for many of the sites of the Fiordland like the 'Great Walks' of New Zealand (Milford, Routeburn, and Kepler), and the Milford and Doubtful Sounds. We originally had planned to do the Kepler trek (a 3 day and 2 night hike between Doubtful and Mildford Sound) the day after we arrived in Te Anau, but it suddenly became popular and the only time we could start the trek was Wednesday (and we discovered this on Saturday). So we came up with some plans to make the most of our time in the world famous Fiordland, which wasn't difficult to do. Plus, after staying in 7 different towns on the road, we were looking forward to staying in the same place for four nights!
Our first day we headed north relatively early to beat the tour buses and drove on the Milford road towards Milford Sound. Our destination was the Divide to hike to the Key Summit of the Routeburn track. It was a beautiful three hour hike through silver beech forests that gradually became alpine 'stuff' as Tim called it. Once at the top, we were rewarded with stellar 360 degree views of mountain ranges all around. The famous wet weather of this region had paused for at least the day and we got to see everything in its full splendor. The extra cool thing about the top was a guided walk with a handout that explained all the different vegetation. But can we remember any of it now? Tim has some trouble, but science teacher Anja comes through in this department. There were alpine 'wetlands' which had an amazing number of sundew plants (the carnivorous plant with the sticky 'antennae') and tons of different lichens and alpine moss. The silver beeches up here were much scrubbier and stunted because of the powerful wind that coursed through continuously.
Back in our car, we continued toward the Sound, but first we had to navigate a long, dark tunnel. From the direction we were coming, it was sloped downward, and even with our car lights on, it wasn't the brightest place. Anja even called it "creepy". But of course we made it safely through, and zigged and zagged downward to the famous Milford Sound. The sun was still shining, again, a rarity around here, so we scooped up all sorts of photos and enjoyed a picnic lunch to take in the views. Our palate these days is getting very used to peanut butter and nutella sandwiches and yogurts for lunch, often with a muesli bar a tad later, topped off with of course, chocolate or some sort of other sweet.
Later in the evening we enjoyed looking back at our photos on the laptop. This is becoming our routine of sorts. Otherwise we enjoy some quiet time, maybe engage with some other guests in a brief chat, and often head to bed quiet early, mostly for lack of much else to do, plus it doesn't hurt to get plenty of shut eye to fully enjoy the next day.