Monday September 17 - Tuesday September 18, 2007
09.17.2007 - 09.18.2007 0 °F
Well, after the Bungy jump I needed a day to recover. Ellen spent Monday skiing, so I took the opportunity to rest. I slept in a bit, then hiked up the mountain in town to take in the view, and then snuck down on the gondola. Here is a view of Queenstown from the top.
Not too shabby, hmmm? The lakes really are that blue here, and each time you see one (even if it's the same one), you feel obligated to stop and take in the view again. And the water here is so clear. Any river I've seen has always been pristine. None of this opaque greyish water with debris and unidentified white foam floating in it that you see in the Chicago River. Equally amazing are the clouds here. Aotaeroa is the Maori word for New Zealand, and it means "Land of the Long White Cloud". And they were right on. The clouds here look like long tufts of cotton, kind of in the shape of french bread. And the often hang so low in the sky that they look like they're resting on the side of the mountains, almost as if they're taking a nap.
Ellen and I are also endlessly amused by the sheep that roam the countryside here. The statistic is something like 20 sheep for every New Zealander, or something like that. Based on my short travels in the South Island, I would concur.
On Tuesday morning we rented a car and drove to Te Anau, a stop on the way to Milford Sound. The sound is not really that far as the bird flies (or whatever the saying is), but because of the Alps, you have to drive about an hour south to cross the range and then back up again. We decided to spend the night in Te Anau, yet another quaint little town. We spent the afternoon going on a short cruise on Lake Te Anau to see the Glowworm Caves. The caves we saw are a small portion of about 6.7km total area, and are the youngest part, only 12,000 years old (just a baby cave!) The caves are formed by the water rushing through the limestone. After disembarking the big cruise boat, you hike a small ways to the cave entrance and do the beginning of the tour on foot. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take any photos, but it was really interesting, and rather spooky, actually. They had man made footpaths through this part of the cave, but you had to do a lot of ducking and shimmying to get through the spaces. And the water rushing through was thunderous, you could barely hear yourself think. Then we got to a small dock, with a boat to hold about 8 people. Once in the boat, the guide turned off the lights and maneuvered the boat by pulling it along a rope in the rock (which we could not see at this point as it was pitch black). But when my eyes adjusted to the darkness, you could see the glowworms on the ceiling of the cave. They looked like tiny blueish lights. They reminded me of the glow in the dark stars that you buy as a kid (or college student) and stick on the ceiling of your bedroom. I guess they glow stronger when they are hungry to attract the flies that live in the caves, who then in turn get caught in the glowworm webs. Glowworms are found only in NZ and Australia. And here I though Fisher-Price thought them up!