We enjoyed a nice dinner at our hotel Kamana Lakehouse. The next morning, Saturday, we had planned on taking a trip we booked ahead called Fly, Cruise, Fly to Milford Sound. You fly in a small plane to Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park on the Tasman Sea, cruise the Sound and then fly back. The weather has to be good for all parts of the journey. The weather did not cooperate for the first two sessions. We gave up for the day and drove about an hour to Glenorchy, northwest of Queenstown in search of the Routeburn Track. The Routeburn Track is a popular 2-3 day tramp from beginning to end. There are huts along the way that you can book to stay overnight. After we went through the town we followed some signage to the Track. We were close to giving up when we ran into a large crowd of locals hanging out at a bridge and riverbank. Turns out they were all there to view the Jetboat races that had just gone by on the Dart River. We missed that but did get directions to the Track. It was just over the bridge, turn right and proceed what turned out to be over 10km down a well maintained, narrow gravel road. Fortunately no one was coming the other way! We had a nice long walk almost to the first hut and returned. After a little down time at the hotel we enjoyed a walk around Queenstown and dinner.
Sunday morning we woke up to a favorable weather forecast. The trip was on for a 10am departure. We drove to the Queenstown airport where the flight originated. There was a group of people waiting. Two planes went. We felt fortunate that we got on a small 6 seater with a wonderful, military trained pilot who is also a heli pilot. Auckland was back to a COVID Tier 3 level, the rest of NZ was Tier 2. We were required to wear masks on the flight and short van ride to the dock and encouraged to keep a 2 meter distance on the boat and anywhere else. It was a smooth flight out with amazing views. When we arrived we got on a small, in comparison to most of the boats at the dock, boat for our cruise. It was very calm so we were able to go all the way out as far as the Tasman Sea. Amazing views all around. We saw some fur seals swimming and hanging out on a rock. After our 2 hour cruise we went back to the plane and flew back. The trip back was a little bit cloudier and the sea breeze had come in so a slight bump on the way up. The pilots fly visually through the valleys like they are roads. You don’t go over the mountain peaks. Grant, our pilot took us on a little detour to view the magnificent Sutherland Falls.
When we returned to QT a bit after 2pm we headed to town for a renowned Fergburger for a late lunch. We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon at the hotel. We walked a trail to QT for dinner of a nice Italian meal at Farelli’s Trattoria. We enjoyed a bit of local music talent at a bar nearby and then cabbed it back to the hotel. The next day we went off for another hike, Tobin’s Trail in the Arrowtown area. After a little lunch at The New Orleans Hotel we headed to the river where all the walks start. After 1km walk beside the river we crossed a bridge and trekked up to beautiful views and then back down. According to the guide, the ford beside the bridge marked River! was the location of the famous scene in the first ‘Lord if the Rings’ film when Arwen calls on the river to sweep away the Ringwraiths. We had dinner once again at our hotel and enjoyed the beautiful view. The next morning we were going back on the road, destination Christchurch.
To be continued…..