|“What is a fiord?” we pondered as we pulled out of Wanaka heading to Te Anau. Sounds Norwegian, we decided.
The drive was stunning. Vineyards, wineries and fruit stands lined the road competing for our attention along with the rivers and mountains. Apricots and cherries in hand, we stopped in Queenstown for lunch and supplies before heading into the bush.
Every region has its own angler access guide. They’re fantastic and most routes lead onto and through private farmland. We stopped at a fishing shop along the way to Te Anau for some lures and an access guide. Not much further along, we pulled off onto a dirt road that led to a river. As we jumped out of the car, Mike spotted a big hole where a nice trout laid waiting. For three long hours, Mike cast into one of two pools while I stood watch over the big fish. And this thing looked big. It came and went a few times but it mostly sat waiting for a nice snack. Of course, I got tired of this after 2 ½ hours and went to sit at the picnic table and read. Half an hour later a high pitched “BECCA!” interrupted me and I scrambled down the riverbank to Mike. I figured he was snagged or fell in the river. I was wrong. He was hooked up! “The camera,” I screamed as I scrambled back up the bank to make sure we got a picture of this fish. I ran back and starting shooting pictures just as Mike yelled “I’m going in” and slid down the 10 foot mud face straight into the river with the fish still on the line. He managed to grab the fish and hold it up for a shot – all 24+ inches of Rainbow Trout! The smile on Mike’s face says it all. It’s most definitely the biggest trout he’s every landed. (Mike’s Blurb: “I started with a wet fly. No go. I moved to a bigger nymph. No go. I saw it come to the surface to feed once about 90 minutes in. It was an absolute cow, and I moved to a dry fly. No go. The thing spooked quite easily, but always came back within a few minutes. I finally decided to throw a small trout, and three casts later…”). Unfortunately we didn’t have the right stuff to filet him up for dinner so we still ate PB and Nutella sandwiches.
The next day we woke up early and drove into Fiordland National Park. This is the prettiest drive we’ve done in NZ. We stopped at tons of awesome photo opportunities of mountains, meadows, rivers and lakes. We did a three hour hike up to Key Summit with views of snowcapped mountains and through native forest. It looked exactly like Lord of the Rings. It was perfectly sunny all day. We lucked out because this park gets up to 9 meters of rain a year (more than 27 feet!).
We’re staying in the park at a small rustic lodge so that means no phone, TV or Internet. We also had to bring in all of our own food. PB sandwich time! It’s also the first time we’ve been cold and the long underwear and fleeces have come out! This morning we did a two hour “cruise” in the Milford Sound. We found out what a fiord is – it’s when the glacier cuts through mountain to get to the ocean (don’t look it up because I might not have that quite right). We saw seals, lots of waterfalls, birds and ducks galore and made it all the way out into the Tasman Sea. After the boat ride Mike went fishing and I went on a three hour hike up to a lake in the mountains. It was an awesome day!
Tomorrow we head back to civilization where I can post this entry and we can enjoy a hot meal and the nightlife Queenstown.