On our way to Dunedin we had a short stop at the Moeraki Boulders – odd round boulders that have ‘fallen’ from the cliffs on to the shore. Some were quite heavily fissured with salt accretions.
Dunedin is a lovely place – a university town with lots of shops. Again it had some interesting architecture but unlike Oamaru this wasn’t from the gold mining era (I don’t thinks).
The option for Dunedin were either the brewery or the chocolate factory and since neither of these was something I found particularly enthralling I went for a wander round the town. Along Cumberland St, Hanover St and did some shopping along George St.
From Dunedin we travelled through some very misty, drizzly country to the Hollyford campsite, well into fjord-land. Full of sand-flies. My midge head-net came into its own. The German lads who’d not brought any long trousers were ruing their decisions. This was our first taste of alpine conditions albeit surrounded by what I’d call temperate rainforest.
There was the option of ‘upgrading’ which some people did – to basic cabins which were originally used by those who built the road to Milford back in the 40s and 50s. These were quite cute, with a wood stove, around which several of us huddled. Electricity at the site was provided by a generator and is switched off at 11pm leaving you with either candle-light or headtorch.
One brave soul has been sleeping out under the stars on the tour, but even he had to give in and sleep inside. From Hollyford we climbed up and up and considering the size of our bus and that we were towing a trailer, this took some time.
Finally we reached the tunnel which connects Milford Sound the rest of NZ and was opened to the public in 1954. It basically connects 2 cirques either side of the watershed – one cirque where the glacier carved out Lake Te Anau and the one which carved out Milford Sound.
I have to say I wish I’d hired a bike for the duration of the trip (can’t do this for part of the trip only, unfortunately) as there have been some awesome downhill stretches.
So the cyclists started the 80km descent and we slowly wound our way down, stopping briefly at the Chasm (photos to follow) before stopping at the large tourist car park at the ferry port.
The cruise along Milford Sound was really good (One of our guides has done the cruise 5 times and this was the first time it was sunny). The skipper imparted snippets of info along the route. We ventured briefly out into the Roaring Forties and on the way back had dolphins riding the bow.