Every time I visit Fiordland, its untouched beauty and seeming isolation takes my breath away. Even when there are countless tourist buses at each scenic spot, there is something wild and desolate about this place.
My family used to spend every summer holiday camping in Te Anau; I have memories of my brother getting drenched after sleeping under the caravan awning, and of hoardes of kids jumping on the camping ground’s trampoline.
As an adult, I have been back twice. Tall and I camped there at Easter, 2008; it was a wild and wintery time and our little tent didn’t hold up too well under the strong gales. We took a boat to see the glow worms which was fun – also fun was listening to the two (American) tourists in the boat behind us who were convinced that the cave and the worms weren’t real. “This is a clever set,” they said. “Polystyrene,” they said.
There are lots of lovely walks around Te Anau, and the slow-paced little town is nice for a short visit.
Any trip to the South Island will not be complete until you have been to Milford Sound. This seemingly isolated wilderness is like no other part of New Zealand, and its reputation for beauty is well-deserved.
The Homer Tunnel, dug by hand, is an experience, and it is definitely worth stopping at the Mirror Lakes to admire the stunning views and reflections.
The most impressive of the waterfalls are best enjoyed by boat; my favourite has always been Lady Bowen Falls. Due to the rainfall, there are always new, temporary waterfalls cascading down into the sound, so the landscape is ever-changing.
Snow-capped Mitre Peak looms above the sound, and offers another gorgeous aspect to this beautiful area.
The only downfall? Sand flies and mosquitoes. Lots of ’em!
(Ancient photos provided by my dad – too
good bad good not to share)