Despite a fairly decent hangover, I forced myself out of the bed at 7am. The next two days are gonna be great, as I will have a wonderful road trip with great weather and even better things to see. Therefore I didn’t want to waste any second in bed. It was time to hit the road. Destination: Unknown.
Phil from Phil’s Car Rental is a really nice guy and he got me a wonderful old 330.000km Toyota with that self-painted military green coat, that you simply cannot resist. In my opinion the absolute right car for such a trip.
From Queenstown to Kingston
I had a rough idea, to make Te Anau my first waypoint. I guess the reason is because it is a quite well known place, lies at a supposedly wonderful lake and is the gate into my beloved Fiordland, the most magical place in New Zealand. Time to get back where I spent a whole month when I was still aboard the Rose Maree.
To get there you have to make your way over some very lonesome roads, which is more than OK, since I found two very mighty escorts in the car: Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, who were pumping the shit out of that vans Mono-Surround Sound System. Time to rock the road.
After a couple of hours I arrived in Kingston. The following picture will show you the Highway that runs through Kingston, which is the main road that is leading into Te Anau and all the other important places on the South Island… like Kingston
On has to remember, that the South West of New Zealand is pretty much No-mans land. The roads are vast and the land is roamed by sheep and cattle rather than humans. Cars are seen very rarely down here. This is some kind of perfection in my opinion.
Still, I wanted to make a little break here in Kingston, as I haven’t had breakfast yet and it was already around 10 am, so I got into the local café where I found this little thing:
It turned out, that the owner of the Café is also the owner of that ride, so we had a nice chat about old WeeDubs and stuff, which was a certainly nice experience. He bought that bus off the local school a couple of years ago, that used it for transportation of their students.
Into Te Anau
It was time to move on towards Te Anau. To some point it was a little bit useless to race the South West under such pressure, as you cannot linger anywhere for too long, but since Te Anau is the biggest town in Fiordland with a population about 1.857, I dare say that a little drive around the town should be enough.
People are coming here because of the lake anyway.
From Te Anau into Milford Sound
When I had enough of Te Anau, I couldn’t really decide where I’d like to go next. Should I go further South into Lake Manapouri or rather into Milford Sound, where I have already been last year?
I opted for Milford Sound after a little while. Yes, I have already been there, but it is not just Milford that is quite special. Even the 130km long trip into Milford is supposed to be a very beautiful road.
After a few meters back on the road I’ve already known that this was the right thing to do, when I saw two young hitchhikers waiting for a ride.
I’ve been around this country mainly hitchhiking and when you have the rare opportunity of owning a car, you certainly want to give something back to the hitchhiking community.
My two new fellas were from Oregon, USA and merely 19 years old. I am not quite sure if they were a couple or siblings, but one thing I certainly new after our 2 hours ride: They have the right spirit when it comes to traveling. Despite their young age they sounded quite wise in their thinking, which made them some very interesting companions.
They were on their way to the Routeburn Track, which is very beautiful multi day hike into the Southern Alps. Certainly something for the trained people out there. Unfortunately, the little gal from Oregon had a bruised ankle which forced her partner to carry all their gear.
Well, he didn’t seem to mind too much. I wonder if his spirit lasted till the end of their journey.
When I dropped them off at the starting point for the Routeburn, I took a last picture and drove off into Milford Sound. The Sun was already low on the late afternoon horizon.
One Night in Milford
The last part of that track is really stunning. With it’s narrow steep curves that track must be a paradise for bike and roadster owners. But I suppose that this road is stuffed with lousy tourists all summer long, which might turn it into a sheer nightmare. Especially the huge busses must be a pain in the ass.
At one point you have to drive through the Milford Sound Tunnel, which is definitely the most unsafe tunnel in the world. It simply has to be. The road is rugged, the lights are dim and the steepness is fairly incredible. But we shouldn’t forget that we are at the edge of civilization, so I assume, that’s better than climbing above a huge summit.
Anyway, how unreal and beautiful can nature really be? Just watching those pictures makes me want to go back there. See how the road trails downwards that massive valley.
Milford Sound is very very quite around that time of the year, which is really a shame, because the autumn gives this place a very calm feeling, more people should experience, although it might not be as peaceful than anymore, when I think about it.
The sun was already very low and a chilly breeze began to set in, that helped you remembering where you are.
If felt good to be back at Milford Sound. Coming back to a place you remember only good things about, has always a very melancholic feeling, since it becomes more a time travel into your memories rather than a new experience for itself. Which is good, as it leaves you lots of time to notice things you haven’t appreciated as much when you’ve been there before.
So I had lots of time to enjoy Mitre Peak to its full beauty, that was exposed to me in its full range, since the weather was perfect and the sun set exactly behind the tip of that mountain, which really forced me to take a rather cheesy picture. I have to apologize in advance, but I somewhat like that one.
After the sun set, I went back to the Milford Lodge, where I had dinner and a shower, before I relaxed a little bit in the lounge, reprising that great day and dreaming about what the next day of this road trip will bring.
So far, let’s have a look at a few more pictures.