We stayed three nights in Te Anau at the Kingsgate Millenium Hotel, and from there we explored the surrounding area including Milford Sound (next blog topic). We had planned to spend our first full day exploring Doubtless Sound by kayak, but the kayak company postponed their opening this year by one week. So, instead, we had a mellow day exploring by car.
Our room at the Te Anau Hotel was, I think, the best located of any they have. The room sat in the corner right above the registration desk. We had a view across the roof of the restaurant to the lake and mountains beyond. We also received free cooked buffet breakfast each morning as part of our discount package. Wifi is free at the Te Anau Hotel, but only for 20 minutes. Since we have three internet-enabled devices (our two iTouches and my notebook computer), we were able to check email up to three times each day for free (time resets at midnight).
The first stop of our free day was the Te Anau Wildlife Centre, where we saw many New Zealand native birds we probably would be unable to see anywhere else, including the Takahe (pronounced TAH-kah-hay). The Takahe were once thought to be extinct, since no sightings of them had been made in nearly half a century, but this flightless bird has now been brought back from near-extinction and is slowly being restored. There are over 200 birds now, and the numbers are slowly increasing.
We saw several other kinds of birds, as well, at the Te Anau Wildlife Centre, including paradise duck, kaka, kakariki, and kea. The Centre also has morepork (which we hear at home every night but have never seen), but being a night bird, it was sleeping when we were there. The Te Anau Wildlife Centre is free (gold coin donation, meaning a donation of $1 or $2, New Zealand’s gold-coloured coins) and located very handily on the main road going along the Te Anau lakefront (and conveniently called Lakefront Road, though our GPS pronounced it LAH-keh-front).
After our visit to the Wildlife Centre,
we continued south to Lake Manapouri, New Zealand’s second deepest lake. We checked in at the company which runs the kayak trip on Doubtless Sound, but they were closed. We checked a couple other places, but nothing was yet open for business. So, we walked along the lake front and enjoyed the peacefulness of the lake.
Our next stop was the dam at the south end of Lake Te Anau. It was amazing to watch the powerful outlets surge, and scary to think about trying to swim through that. The churning waters caused us both to remember back to the times we each got caught in much smaller whirlpools and thought we’d drown. Thank God we both survived those ordeals and are now enjoying a wonderful life in New Zealand.
Back in the town of Te Anau, we wandered around a bit before heading back to our hotel. Andrew also attended a theatre showing of the Fiordlands by helicopter, which he greatly enjoyed. These mountains and lakes are impressively majestic, well worth a visit.
Tomorrow: Milford Sound