Article originally written in very late December.
After missing our flight in Melbourne and losing two nights of our camper van, Clair and I were forced to make cuts in our already tight touring schedule. We removed Dunedin and one of the two days in Milford Sound. We were forced to make up time with a very long drive (seven hours) to Te Anau.
The dry terrain around Lake Tekapo reminded me of the United States mountain states: rocky and sparse but starkly beautiful. Our road avoided the big peaks and followed a fairly straight, rolling path to Te Anau. We were treated to a spectacular show of pink-purple “snapdragons” along the road and bursting from creek beds. Later in the day we inspected them closer and found their resemblance to snapdragons at a distance not present upon close inspection. But from afar they looked similar, although ranging from pinkish white to bright purple. And looking like rattlesnake tails, as Clair observed.
The reception is Te Anau was wanting. This lakeside was finished off like a resort community with summer vacation homes. Gray clouds spilled over the mountains that surround this glacial lake and the overcast sky drizzled on us most of the day. I had a chance to snap a few pictures along the pebbled lakeshore and hoped to piece together something interesting once I get to photoshop. But the results were uninspiring.
Clair and I saw many deer enclosed in expansive farms and raised presumably to meat along the route to Te Anau. That led to a discussion of venison which piqued Clair’s appetite. So that night we found a quiet, splendid restaurant that served venison over cabbage for her and seafood pasta for me.
We finished off the night at the Moose Restaurant and bar, but not before purchasing some “bush-grade” insect repellant at the pharmacy. We were warned that Milford Sound would be swarming with biting insects and did not want to arrive unprepared.