Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Te Anau, New Zealand

It's very cold in the early morning

I have originally intended to spend a couple nights near Milford Sound; however, the accommodations for Milford Sound are rather limited. After doing further research around Fiordland, I decided to visit Te Anau and take a cruise through Doubtful Sound instead. There are many choices for accommodation in Te Anau. I was able to get a single room at YHA Te Anau for a very good price. While I could share a room with others to save even more money, my dormitory days were long ago. I much prefer to get my own room unless I am only transiting.   

Te Anau is very small. There is one street called "Town Center," and that IS the town center. Many stores and restaurants are closed for winter. There are 2 major grocery stores, Four Square and Fresh Choice, Both stores are just a few blocks away from YHA. It was nice to be able to prepare my meals in the spacious YHA kitchen and save money for bigger cities that I will be visiting.

I booked an 8-hour Wilderness Cruise with Real Journeys. It involved getting on a bus, getting on a small ferry, getting on a bigger bus, and then getting on a bigger cruise. On the way back, we got back on the bus again. It was a long journey, so people started to connect with each other to exchange travel stories. The views were incredible, and it was a plus to have good companies.

The weather was nice once we sailed out in the open. We were told that it had been 30 days since the sun was out and the sky was blue. We all felt really lucky! We departed for the cruise at 8:45 a.m. By the time we return back to Te Anau, it was about 6 pm and completely dark. I went sleep early.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Arriving Middle Earth Again

aerial view of Queenstown

After more than 20 hours of traveling - from BART to SFO to Auckland and finally Queenstown, I have finally begun my second journey to Middle Earth on July 4th, 2015. I have not stopped thinking about coming back here ever since my last visit in July 2014. I wanted to visit more of The Lord of the Rings locations and just to see more of this beautiful green country. It was however difficult for me to leave Kelsey and Cracus for more than two week especially since this would be the first time I am away from Cracus since he was adopted on November 1st, 2014.

Lake Wakatipu

I stayed at YHA Queenstown Lakefront for my first stop. My home for the first two nights faces beautiful Lake Wakatipu. It involves a 10-minute walk into town, but it's a good way to start the day. This is where people come to ski, snowboard, and do bungy jump. I don't do any of those. I am here to see the beautiful scenery and to unwind from the hectic life of an elementary school administrator. The air is cold there, but I rarely feel cold when I am traveling. I am on foot for most of my journey, and it keeps my blood pumping.

Lake Wakatipu

There are many shops in the small area of Queenstown city center. As soon as I got off the bus, the display in the store window caught my attention.  It's a set of The Hobbit rings and necklaces. This is definitely Middle Earth. Tomorrow I will join a Safari of the Rings tour.