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On Walkabout On: The Road Back to Te Anau

After completing our boat tour through beautiful Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island, my wife and I walked back to the car park where our campervan awaited us.  At the car park we took one last look at Milford Sound:

The tide was out quite a bit compared to early in the morning, but another big difference compared to earlier in the morning was how the top of the mountains, such as Mitre Peak were not shrouded in clouds:

After taking in our last view of Milford Sound, we headed back up Highway 94 to Te Anau where we once again planned to spend the night.  Unlike when we drove to Milford Sound early in the morning, the valley on the west side of the highway was no longer shrouded in clouds:

Like most other roads on the South Island, Highway 94 had its fair share of these dangerous one land bridges:

By this time the tour buses from Queenstown were arriving for afternoon boat tours which made these bridges extra dangerous.  At least there was no trains running across these bridges as well, compared to other bridges we had to cross on the South Island.

Since the weather was clear and we still had day light to use, we decided to stop and complete a short hike along the way before returning to Te Anau:

We pulled into a dirt carpark that was dwarfed by a massive peak with a number of large waterfalls cascading off the side of it:

The trail we decided to hike is known as The Chasm:

This quote from David Thoreau is especially true in New Zealand’s Fiordland area that is just filled with incredible glacier carved mountains and fiords.  The trail initially passed through some thick native New Zealand rainforest:

After having hiked through many rainforests in Australia, New Zealand’s rainforests are no where near as impressive as the ones that can be found across the Tasman Sea in Australia.  However, they are still quite beautiful and no where in Australia are their mountains peaks that can match those found in New Zealand.  The trail continued across a bridge that spans a wild river that flows down the side of the mountain:

The actual “Chasm” that this river creates through the rock was actually not that impressive:

It was still a nice walk through the rainforest and the hike to the Chasm is only about an hour round trip and can be completed by anyone.  We actually completed our walk just in time because a tour bus pulled up and a hoard of people greeted us as we walked by to our campervan.  Someone else that greeted us back at our campervan was a Kea bird:

We had saw one these guys back at the Te Anau Wildlife Centre but this was the first one we had seen in the wild.  This guy was not intimidated by us at all and by looking into his eyes I could just tell how intelligent this bird is:

The Kea just seemed to be sizing us up and even walked around our campervan checking things at.  Fortunately he didn’t let the air out of our tires as these birds are well known for doing.  The Kea actually spent about a good 10 minutes checking us out before finally flying off.

From the carpark we then continued up the highway that was becoming increasingly surrounded by extremely rugged mountains that had numerous waterfalls flowing down them:

Highway 94 then climbs up the valley to a point where we had to wait in a long line in order to wait our turn to pass through the Homer Tunnel.  While we were waiting in the que to pass through the tunnel we got to enjoy and incredibly scenic view back down the valley we had just drove up:

The que of cars eventually moved forward and the light turned red on us again before we could pass through the tunnel:

We spent a total of about 30 minutes waiting to pass through this tunnel and when the light finally did turn green, this time we were the first one through the tunnel:

Traveling through the tunnel was just as hair raising as when we drove through it in the morning time.  There has been talk about widening this tunnel but the cost of doing so is something that prevents any tunnel widening from happening.

We were glad when we finally got through the tunnel and the high peaks on the east end of the tunnel came into view:

Looking at these peaks, it was easy to imagine the giant avalanches that must cascade down these steep slopes in the winter time:

From the tunnel the road increased in evaluation a bit that offered views of the rugged mountains in this area:

These mountains almost looked liked sharpened teeth as they pointed to the sky:

Highway 94 eventually entered the fog shrouded valley we had crossed earlier that morning which look quite different with bright late afternoon sunlight:

After passing through the wide valley Highway 94 once again ran adjacent to Lake Te Anau which meant we would soon be back to spend the night at the local campervan park:

By the time we got back to Te Anau our low fuel light on our campervan actually came on which is an indication of how many kilometers we drove that day just to get to Milford Sound and back.  It was a really long day, but we had an absolutely great time and grilled our last steaks that night to celebrate what was quickly becoming the end of our tour of New Zealand.

Next Posting: The International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch

Prior Posting: Video of the Wildlife of Milford Sound

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