In October 2006 we did a trip to New Zealand starting with a few days in the North Island covering Aukland and Rotorua. From Rotorua we flew to Blenheim in the South Island via Wellington.The bulk of the trip covered the South Island starting from Blenheim and driving around the island anti-clockwise visiting Picton, Nelson, Punakaiki, Hokitika, Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, Lake Matheson, Haast, Queenstown, Te Anua, Milford Sound, Dunedin, Moeraki, Oamaru, Mount Cook and finishing in Christchurch.
From Queenstown we drove south around Lake Wakatipu and then west across to Te Anau. We would be staying at Te Anau on our return drive from Milford Sound. From Te Anau we drove north through the Eglinton Pass which was amazing with a flat grassy plain and mountains on both sides.
The scenery on this section of the Te Anau-Milford Sound Highway was really incredible and we were luck to have outstanding sunny weather with bright blue skies.
At one stop we had a visit from an ever curious Kea bird who seemed intent on eating the wing mirror on my car.
Arriving at Milford Sound we had a stunning view out through the channel with the snow covered mountains as a backdrop.
We had booked an overnight cruise on the Milford Mariner and this turned out to be a wonderful experience.
Cruising out we saw wonderful waterfalls plunging from the mountains into the sea. Conditions were perfect and apparently the Captain informed us this was the first time for a while it had been so nice.
We anchored in a small bay to allow us to take a boat trip in one of the ship tenders close to shore to view the Fiordland Crested Penguins that nested on the rocky shore.
Our room on board the ship was very comfortable and after a good dinner with some wonderful local wine we slept very well as we remained anchored in the bay.
Given the good sea and weather conditions the next day the Captain decided he could venture out of the channel to the open sea which was a great opportunity. As we sailed out we had some great sightings of bottlenose dolphins playing along side the ship.
On the return voyage the next day we got close to Stirling Falls which was a wonderful waterfall cascading into the sea.
We disembarked after a wonderful overnight cruise and then headed back down the road taking a slight detour to visit the quirky village of Gunn’s Camp in Hollyford Valley and then a walk to see the Humboldt Falls.
Hollyford Camp, also known as Gunn’s Camp, is a testament to the efforts of a father and son who championed the attractions of the Hollyford.
The collection of buildings began life in 1938 as a Public Works Department camp built to accommodate married men who were working on the Hollyford-Okuru Road.
A road linking Otago and Southland with South Westland had been talked about for years and during the Depression the Government started work on the project which was an off-shoot of a larger project to build a road from Te Anau to Milford Sound.
The collection of 25 cabins was originally known as Henderson’s Camp after Jack Henderson who was the engineer in charge of the project. World War II was declared not long after the camp was completed and the roading work stopped so that men could join the war effort.
In the late 1940s the camp was used by holiday-makers who, desperate for house parts during the postwar shortages, removed stoves, windows, tubs and roofing. By 1951 only 15 of the original 25 cabins remained.
It was in that year that Davey Gunn, a well-known back-country cattle-man who was running Herefords further down the valley bought that camp to use as a base for his farming and tourism ventures. He paid £12 for each hut and built a large communal building with iron and flooring from another abandoned PWD camp and broadleaf and red beech timber cut from the surrounding bush.
Davey Gunn had always been alive to the beauty of the district and pioneered guided walking and riding trips in the district. The camp, as well as being a convenient stores depot, also provided accommodation for the increasing number of people coming to do Davey’s trips.
Humboldt Falls is a waterfall located in the Hollyford Valley in the Fiordland district of New Zealand. They fall 275 metres in three drops; the largest of the three drops is 134 metres high.
We then drove back the road we had come into Milford Sound on back to Te Anau where we stayed for one night.
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