FiNZ 36 – Holidays Part 2

Post Kepler Track we wanted to stay somewhere a bit more “homey” for Christmas day. A while back we looked around for a nice little house rental but they didn’t really exist or were already booked. So we ended up living the life of luxury for a couple of nights in the Te Anau at the “Rainbow Lakeview House.” The house is actually for sale if anyone wants to go halfsies…or more like quarterlies on it–a mere $1.35 million. Although, if you ask me that is low in comparison to a beautiful piece of land like this in the States. A bit pricier of a rental than what we initially wanted, but given the fact that we had stayed in hostels or huts the past week, we didn’t feel bad about it.

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Lakeview Living Room

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Majestic mountains from the front porch

We made it to the grocery store right after we hopped off the Kepler Track and picked up a modest Christmas meal for 2– the tiniest ham known to man, a few potatoes for mashed potatoes, salad ingredients, broccoli casserole ingredients, and a box of brownie mix. It was quite the perfect couple meal!

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Christmas meal

It was a great, relaxing 48 hours of looking out the windows, playing pool, calling our families to wish them a happy holiday, or watching Christmas movies.

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Pool time

On Boxing Day (think, the Commonwealth’s version of Black Friday) we celebrated by treating ourselves to a tourist journey. We booked an overnight cruise with Real Journeys on the Doubtful Sound. Around New Zealand its pretty easy to do things on your own, but every once in a while, it is LOVELY to have someone do it for you. This was a bit of a splurge, but a few coworkers had done it before and vouched for it, and we really wanted to see Doubtful Sound (the fiord that lives in the shadow of its uber touristy neighbor – Milford Sound).

Here’s a quick map, below, of points along our cruise. To give you an idea of how remote Doubtful Sound is….we had to take a shuttle to Manapouri, an hour boat ride across Lake Manapouri, and then a 40 minute bus ride on a dirt road down to Deep Cove, population – 2 (yes, TWO) to get to the boat dock.

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Enginerd alert – once we pulled into the west bank of Lake Manapouri they pointed out the hydroelectric power station. This was built in the 60s and uses water power generated from the flow of water from Lake Te Anau and Manapouri, through a very long man-made tunnel, into Doubtful Sound. The power station COULD power the entire south island, but instead most of it goes to the nearby aluminum plant, and about 15% gets put into the NZ grid. The initial ideas of a power station really brought the country together in terms of environmental consciousness. The population (a petition with over 200,000 signatures was submitted – a TON for little New Zealand!) convinced owners to only build on terms that the lakes would remain at a normal level without killing the habitats surrounding them.

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We (about 50 of us) then all stepped onto the beautiful Fiordland Navigator, found our bunks, and set sail! Keith had a ball with my camera over the next 24 hours. It was quite hard to pick out only a few photos, but hopefully this is a good compilation of what we experienced!

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Riding in style

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Seal Colony

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We anchored in a small cove where we were able to participate in water activities. Keith and I jumped for the kayaks! The sandflies were BRUTAL–two got my in the eye and my face was very puffy for the next day; however, the kayaking, and running into a pod of bottlenose dolphins was very worth it!

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Keith then decided to take advantage of the “swimming” option…

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Top deck at nightfall

The next day we sailed into one of the southern “arms” of the sound which had the most beautiful scenery. At the end of the “arm” we stopped and the engines were shut off and we all stood there in silence for several minutes taking in our surroundings. I’ve been told this is usually a pretty epic part of the journey. However, for us, it started pouring at this point, which just meant we were listening to rain pouring everywhere while getting wet.

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Nerd alert–I was pretty excited to see a visible fault line area in nature. The picture doesn’t really capture it…but it’s there.

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“Flanders hiking(?) photo of the week”–

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Proof that we slept somewhere

Overall a great “touristy” experience. I would highly recommend Real Journeys Doubtful Sound overnight cruise. The crew really took care of us, the food was incredible (and plentiful!), and we got a very comprehensive tour of Doubtful Sound. I believe only one other tour company sets foot in Doubtful Sound, and I didn’t see them while we were there. So if you don’t want the crazy hype of Milford and still want to experience a beautiful fiord – I highly recommend Doubtful Sound!

We just got done with some great BBQ-ing back in Christchurch, and on to some more adventures tomorrow. This has been one heck of a blogging week!

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