Starting Point: Queenstown
Ending Point: Manapouri
Kilometers traveled: 172
Today we drove winding lakefront roads with majestic peaks all around us as we wound our way through lake country. We stopped off to see the Kingston Flyer, a vintage steam train, which has been in use since the gold rush days back in the late 1800s. She was leaving the station for her return trip to Kingston as we were driving past, so we stopped off to watch her leave.
From there we worked our way through pasturelands and many different stations (ranches for those of you in the states). Most were sheep stations, but we passed quite a few which were raising deer as well. The roads were full of traffic as this is one of the main routes down to Te Anau, and from there on to Milford, one of the most popular destinations in the South. But we left all that traffic behind when we turned off to head to Manapouri. Manapouri is a small little town on the shores of Lake Manapouri, the fifth largest lake in New Zealand. It’s a popular destination with locals for the fishing and waterskiing. But we are here for the other reason it is popular. It is the gateway to Doubtful Sound in Fiordland National Park.
Doubtful Sound is the second largest sound in the Fiordlands, and also one of the more remote. We can’t drive there. Tomorrow we will leave from the wharf here on an all day tour that includes a boat ride across Lake Manapouri, and then a 22km bus ride on one of the most remote roads in NZ. That road starts on the other side of Lake Manapouri and ends at Deep Cove, the innermost inlet of Doubtful Bay. Once we arrive there, we’ll hop on a boat for a nature cruise of the sound. We’re hoping to see Fiordland Crested Penguins.
We checked into our campground, “The Possum Lodge” and had a bit of lunch. Then we went out to explore the lakefront and the town, stopping off at Fraser’s Beach and the local convenience store for a few provisions and the largest single scoop ice cream cones we have ever seen. We both had Hokey Pokey, of course. It’s everyone’s favorite here in NZ. I proceeded to drip part of mine all over the lens of my camera as we were walking out to a picnic table to eat them. Big yay for sticky camera lenses. And an even bigger yay for our homemade screen cleaner (works better than the expensive stuff you buy in a store and is way way cheaper – 1 part distilled water to 1 part rubbing alcohol)!
The rest of the afternoon was a slow and relaxing one. A bit more walking about, some time reading and chatting with friends, and then we cooked up dinner for tonight and lunch for tomorrow’s trip. Dinner tonight was chicken cutlets with a grainy mustard & Manuka honey pan sauce, along with fresh asparagus and buttery pasta. Picnic lunch for our trip tomorrow includes sandwiches made with the leftover chicken on crusty ciabatta rolls, and a lovely cobb salad (tomatoes, avocados, hard boiled eggs, crumbled bacon, and a dressing of the leftover honey mustard pan sauce). Who says we can’t cook gourmet in our makeshift Spaceship kitchen?! We regularly make our neighbors jealous, but I really enjoy cooking our meals. We never make anything really elaborate, but when everyone else is eating Uncle Ben’s instant rice for dinner I guess it’s not that hard to impress.
Now we’re chilling on the couchette in the Spaceship & avoiding the sandflies which are out in force outside. We just watched the boat that we will be on tomorrow pull into the harbor & it is looking like it will be a beautiful sunset tonight. Dessert will be more of the fresh cherries we bought earlier this week in Arrowtown, and maybe a shortbread cookie or two, with a bit of amaretto hot chocolate.
Hope you are having a lovely weekend to kick off December…Is it really December already? Doesn’t feel like it to us at all, especially with being used to the sensory overload Christmas Christmas Christmas everywhere you go in the states. But we aren’t missing the holiday madness at all.
Wow, cool pics of the train…yes, we are all beginning the holiday madness here. Miss you guys!
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