Dunedin/Cromwell/Te Anau/Milford Sound

Saturday, February 24, 2007

We left Christchurch mid-morning on Tuesday, February 20th and drove Hwy. 1 south to Dunedin.  The roads seem wider in the South Island, or maybe we’re just getting used to them.  It seems natural to be driving on the left, and the roads are straighter and faster than they were on the North Island.  We stopped north of Dunedin to see the Moeraki Boulders, some unusual spherical rocks.  We arrived at Larnach Castle about 4:30, checked in and took a tour of the castle.  Guests stay at Larnach Lodge nearby as there are no accommodations in the castle itself.  This castle, the only one in New Zealand, is located on the Otago Peninsula and is beautifully landscaped.  We climbed to the top of the castle tower to take pictures of the spectacular views of the peninsula.  Dinner in the castle is offered to guests, so we joined 14 others at a large table in the music room (Jay had venison, Barbara had salmon).  Jay asked a man from Sydney opposite him about cricket, which is the only sporting event we’ve seen on NZ television.  The fellow launched into an explanation of cricket that went on for a long time.  After about 20 minutes, the lady on Barbara’s left, from Melbourne, said “Is he still talking cricket? Just ignore him.” Jay has a better understanding of the game now, but Barbara is still confused (maybe it was the wine she had with dinner).  Jay took a picture of a gorgeous sunrise from Larnach Lodge on Wednesday, February 21st.  After breakfast, we drove to the top of the Otago peninsula, where we stopped at the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head.  We didn’t have time for a tour here, but we did go on a Natures Wonders tour on a private farm nearby.  We rode around on an 8-wheel vehicle up and down steep, rough paths to the ocean and back.  We saw fur seals, very rare yellow-eyed penguins and also little blue penguins.  We then drove into the city of Dunedin and walked around the attractive college town.  The Dunedin Railway Station, opened in 1906, is a beautiful building with a lot of architectural detail.  The city also has an interesting area called The Octagon, which is a popular gathering place.  We left Dunedin around 2:30 and drove to Cromwell.  The landscaped changed a lot in this three hour drive, from sheep and cattle near Dunedin, then fruit orchards, then vineyards a little further on.  Our hosts at the B & B we stayed at in Cromwell, Helen and Neville, recommended a restaurant called The Lazy Dog that was very nice.  The restaurant was next to a winery in a very scenic place.  We’ve been drinking a lot of wine, but haven’t been on any winery tours yet.  We plan to do that later in the trip.  We had another warm sunny day on Thursday, February 22nd for our drive from Cromwell to Te Anau.  Shortly after leaving Cromwell, we saw bungy jumping at Kawarau Bridge and stopped to watch.  No,we weren’t even tempted.  The sign said this was the first bungy jumping location in the world.  We then went to Arrowtown, a former boom town when gold was discovered in the area in 1862.  Arrowtown is well-preserved but very touristy, so we drove to Millbrook Golf Course nearby for lunch.  We then followed Hwy.  6 south along Lake Wakatipu and were in the mountains known as the Remarkables.  We saw several farms near Te Anau where they raise deer.  We arrived in Te Anau and checked into the Green Cottage at The Croft B & B.  It’s a beautiful spot with views of the mountains and Lake Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island at 38 miles long and 1,370 feet deep.  This evening we went to the cinema in Te Anau and saw an amazing short movie about Fiordland that had been recommended by our B & B host in Picton.  We enjoyed it so much we bought a copy of the DVD.  Friday, February 23rd, a day we have anticipated since we made our plans many months ago, finally arrived.  We went to Milford Sound today.  We were not disappointed! We arranged to go in a large van with 10 other people so we could just enjoy the drive there and not miss the best places to stop along the way.  We walked through an amazing forest at the Lake Gunn Nature walk, where the forest floor was green with lichens and moss.  The driver stopped at Hollyford Valley and took pictures of us.  We also saw a green river and some great waterfalls on the way.  We arrived at Milford Sound (which is actually a fiord and not a sound) and got on a good-sized boat for a 2 1/2 hour cruise of the fiord.  The mountains and waterfalls were just incredible and we got right under two waterfalls.  There hasn’t been as much rain as usual in the past few weeks, so the waterfalls weren’t as spectacular we’ve heard they can be, but we were happy to have a sunny day with a great blue sky.  To get a perspective of just how big the mountains are, look at the picture with the boats that look like two tiny specks on the water.  When we arrived back in Te Anau, we checked into Kepler Cottage , the B & B where we spent the night.

Moeraki Boulders north of Dunedin

Larnach Castle

Grounds at Larnach Castle

A garden at Larnach Castle

Otago Peninsula from castle grounds

Larnach Lodge where guests stay

Sunrise at Larnach Lodge

Lighthouse at Taiaroa Head

Tour vehicle spin at end of tour

Peninsula from tour lookout

Fur seals

Rare yellow-eyed penguins

Dunedin Railway Station

Bungy jumping at Kawarau Bridge

Bungy jumping at Kawarau Bridge

Milbrook Golf Course

Remarkables - Arrowtown to Te Anau

Lake Wakatipu along Hwy. 6 to Te Anau

The Green Cottage at The Croft

View from the Green Cottage - Croft B & B

Lake Gunn Nature Walk

Hollyford Valley

Milford Sound (note how small the boats look)

Milford Sound

Milford Sound - under a waterfall

Milford Sound

Milford Sound - Mitre Peak

© Jay Deitch 2020