NZ Land Logs 15, Year 2: Queenstown to Te Anau–Judy’s Big 60
Date: Monday, March 5, 2007
Weather in Milford Sound Area: Overcast and Warm
Location: Te Anau, New Zealand

As we left Queenstown this morning, the sun was shining. We have been so very lucky with the weather to this point with no rainy days, but we know our turn is coming–just not sure when. As we left Queenstown and headed south, we drove past The Remarkables. This is a “remarkable” mountain range that provides a ski playground in the winter. The south branch of Lake Wakapitu was on our left as we drove south and dramatic, yet very dry looking mountains rose on both sides of the lake. The mountains melted into rolling hills and pastures with lots of yellow grass and sheep. We also started seeing more venison farms the further south we drove. In what seemed like no time, it was time to turn to the west to Te Anau, our destination for today. Not only the dramatic mountains had melted away; the sunny weather had changed to overcast skies. There was more pasture land and more venison and sheep grazing in the expansive fields. As we neared Te Anau, dark mountains began rising in the distance. These are the mountains in the Milford Sound area that we will explore tomorrow.

We arrived in Te Anau and went directly to the Information Center and Department of Conservation Center to check out day walks in the area. We then went to Keiko’s Bed and Breakfast and checked in for our two night stay here. Since my birthday is today and tomorrow is Alan’s birthday, we splurged and decided to go up-scale and stay in the B & B. We actually have separate cottages and the whole place is picture book perfect. There are beautiful flower gardens around the cottages and even a little fish pond and garden in the back. Keiko is from Japan and Kevin is a local and they seem to have the perfect combination as hosts of a B & B. Kevin booked our tour of Milford Sound for us for tomorrow and gave us great information on the best day hikes to take. The forecast is for rain tomorrow, so we hurried on to have a quick lunch and walk just a little of the Kepler Track. The section of the track we chose to walk took us down along the banks of the Waiau River running out of Lake Te Anau. This is the second largest lake in New Zealand the views down the river once again brought us back to The Lord of the Rings. Four different rivers in New Zealand were used to represent the River Anduin in the movie and this was the third of the four rivers that we have visited. The bushy banks of this river were used in the first part of the journey undertaken by the Fellowship before they reached the Brown Lands. The path along the river was lined with ferns and moss and got darker and darker. We all felt like riders on black horses were going to tear down the bank from above us at any moment. I think we have been visiting too many Lord of the Rings sites!

Tonight is my 60th birthday dinner and we are going to a funky little place in town called the Redcliff Bar & Cafe. It comes highly recommended by Kevin here at the B & B as well as in The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook. I’m definitely going to try venison tonight (Yes, I’m going to have Bambi for dinner.) with the recommended Central Otago pinot noir, and the chocolate fondant with berry coulis looks like my dessert of choice. Hey, you’re only 60 once.

070305 Web Pics–Queenstown to Te Anau