"awe your so lucky having the rain today !"
20.12.2005 24 °C
Another short nights sleep ( but a good Steak dinner later ! ) and we were picked up from our hotel at just before 0630 for our trip out to Doubtful Sound. Those of you in the know ofcourse realise that is not actually a Sound at all but a Fjord ( ooh hark at him !). The difference being ( as they explained on the trip that a Sound is a flooded river valley and Fjord's are carved by glaciation activity ). This would probably explain why we found ourselves in the Fiordland National Park.
Not the most accesible of places and a good 12-13 hour round-trip from Queenstown and involves 2hours of coaching to and from Lake Manapouri and then coaching the short journey to the Sounds, stopping on the way back at the underground power station ( hydroelectric ) set up to provide power for the local aluminium indusrty , 15% of the power generated routed to the NZ power grid.
Our guide Paul was great because his commentary on the bus ride there managed to send me to sleep in our ten minutes falt and I managed to get back some of that I'd been missing since we'd left the UK. The persistent rain was apparently a great thing, and to be honest it turned out to be so as this meant the temporary waterfalls surrounding the sounds were in full flow creating some spectacular views. Having cruised out to the edge of the Sound and viewed seal colony ( a bit disappointing because we were so far away and they were just busy sleeping ) we turned ( and so too did the weather ) back into the Sound and then up the Crooked Arm, the largest inlet in the fjord. As we rounded the elbow we came upon what I think we all hoped for which were Dolphin. Pausingly briefly we observed their antics until their behave exhibited signals of stress ( the tour operators have strict guidlines over their conduct around wildlife ). After moving on further into the inlet we paused for a few minutes, with engines stopped and just sat in the water in silence. This was just amazing as the place was sooo quiet save for the chirpings of a few birds, just amazing.
The return journey to Queenstown involved a stop a the Power station which is of interest , but not for those who are not good with small spaces. The coach has to crawl down a tunnel some 300m down or so and then turn around ( a 11m coach in a 6m wide tunnel ). Another boat trip across Lake Manapouri ( where the sun dared to come out ) and then a skiped dinner for me as my cold was by now in full swing, coupled with a stiff sore neck, I was not feeling at all flash.