But fjord was not in the English dictionary yet!
We decided to take a boat into the sounds as our one and only touristy experience on this trip.
It is a two hour drive in from Te Anau to Milford Sound.
A Kea found us in a car park. The kea is a very clever and very naughty bird – we adore them. Though if you are not careful they will steal the rubber out of your windscreen wipers and any shiny metal attached to the side of your car. Or your car keys! There are endangered but very adaptable and as NZ continues with its mission to rid the islands of rats we hope they will build their numbers again.
This one is in the wrong place but like I say they are adaptable and with the tourists I bet this guy is being illegally fed heaps!
After an hours walk from the parking area and out of sight on the right is the terminal.
Here is Sinbad our guide boat.
The Sounds were all carved out by glaciers that ground their way through here 20,000 years ago they had all melted by around 2,000 years ago I think and then the sea back filled into the resulting U shaped valleys. Very deep. In the Sounds it rains 200 out of 364 days on average. We got a dry fine day which was incredible luck.
Conservation is very close to the human condition in New Zealand so all this bush is native and original. And you may remove nothing. And leave behind nothing.
It is protected fiercely and shared generously.
Then two hours later – back on dry land.
I am going to send this to you now! Battery v. Low. Hold that thought.
I hope this vid of the tunnel goes through – The Sounds are incredibly isolated- which is good- and difficult to access – which is good too. Keeps out the riff raff! But also a very old fashioned place to visit.
This tunnel was punched through in 1954.
I am almost out of battery on my phone so more on that tunnel here and I will push Publish then go in search of my charger pack. I hope to come back to this post later today with more notes.
We shift the bus today – I am not sure where to but the pack up will take a while. I paid 5 dollars to have a shower in the Te Anau Visitors Centre yesterday, which was very welcome and hope to find a laundromat today! Bus life is not a clean experience.
Just pictures. Unedited.
This walk way is a good long pathway well used by cyclists and walkers.
This whole walk is through the bird sanctuary area.
Today we take the long drive into the fjord and have a look see. Later in the afternoon we will take the boat ride into Milford Sound. Evidently it is a once in a lifetime experience though I am not too good on the water. Hopefully it is calm!
But I hope to get you some good pictures.
We have not got into town yet.
People letting people stay for nothing in their backyards. If you are part of a NZ camper van association or something like that you have access to a list of other campers and landowners who will rent a field or yard to you for a donation or gold coin or even free. As long as your vehicle is self contained. It is an amazing system of generosity.
So much feed. The fields around here are heaving with grass. I would never get this much pasture by mid summer in Illinois.
If you are part of a NZ camper van association or something like that you have access to a list of other campers and landowners who will rent a field or yard to you for a donation or gold coin or even free. As long as your vehicle is self contained. It is an amazing system of generosity.
This place has chickens! And a duck.
The further South we travel the longer the daylight. Last night I crawled into my tent at 10 pm and it was still light enough to read.
OK – Today we will go for a walk into Te Anau. Topo Map here. We are right on the doorstep of Milford Sound. There is a lot to explore here – but more on that later.
Also today we are going to make bagels! Plus more bread. My bread is very popular here.
The bus people sleep in! It drives me crazy! This is why I am happy in my coffin tent. Just me and noisy chickens out here this morning.
( I saw my son lock his car last night in case of thieves but leaving his mum to sleep outside under the trees with nothing but a piece of nylon for protection – I raised my eyebrow).
We left Canmore yesterday. and came to rest for the night further down the South Island of New Zealand in a one horse town called Grafton. We are officially in Southland, New Zealand now.
This has always been a staging stop or rest stop between Queenstown ( our last stop) and Te Anau (our next stop). Around Te Anau we hope to park the bus for a few days and then take day trips in the car into the Milford Sound.
See the ranges we came around! These are called The Remarkables. We wound our way around the base of them.
Above is a link to a topographical map of where we are. I will link back to this map frequently so you can follow the route we take.
I love topographical maps. It is interesting to note the height of the hills and mountains that crouch around us as we drive through this valley later today.
I hope to be able to blog daily for this next week. After all you and I have never been here before. But if we get too far into the wopwops. We might be cut off. We’ll see.
Our only actual destination is Invercargill by Friday (6 days away). Then I fly to Wellington via Christchurch. But until then we are wandering about down here in my son’s bus.
Well, he drives the bus and we drive in the car.
Now! Let’s get on the road!
The weather is hot and delicious!
In the South Island of New Zealand. Above Wanaka, New Zealand.
Welcome to the boonies!
This morning I am beginning to bake bread without my favourite Janie’s Mill flour is proving to be a bit of a challenge.
Baking bread for my family is my favourite thing. ( I have many favourite things). The house we are staying in is on a road called Gin and a Raspberry Road just up the road from the Canmore Pub. And – unforgivably we forgot the gin – so someone had better drive down into Wanaka today!
I stayed at the Cardrona hotel my first night in the South of NZ because I changed my flights to avoid being caught in an ice storm in OHare, Chicago and arriving in New Zealand 24 hours early i treated myself a night in this lovely hotel. It was not expensive and was perfect. The Cardrona is an icon in the South. Everyone knows it.
The rooms opened on to the beer garden and the garden had a playground so all members of our family were happy.
And now we have relocated just up the road ( straight upwards I might add) so we will be returning! The Cardrona is actually hidden behind that group of tall trees down in the valley. This shot is from the bottom of the wild meadows that surround our mountain house.
So here I am – surrounded in colour and slopes that in the winter are covered in snow and skiers. I am more than happy to be here in the summer.
Now, I need to go and roll the dough. I am working with a relative of my sourdough Godzilla, so I am feeling confident – but the flour is from Turkey which seems a bit weird and I have no idea of the milling date the use by date is in 18 months and of course no mention of the grain the flour was made from. How quickly I have become a flour snob!
Last night there were two owls with two distinctive voices calling for hours in the night. They were in the big tree-house tree outside the kitchen door. This tree is close to my bedroom too, I opened the window so I could hear them call in and out of my dreams. They both used the same range of notes in the same order but one was bell-like in the ( kind of) A minus range and one in ( maybe) a middle C range with a smaller triller sound except that last note that drifts into a sad lilting minor chord.
Why does the word ‘dreams’ describe the uncoordinated uncontrolled images that play into our sleeping heads plus the same word is also used for our aspirations and carefully thought through plans. “I have always dreamed of having a little farm” is not the same as the choppy dreams I have of flying from the top of the barn in a graceful arc to a lake that was never there. Or my dreams of connecting with wild animals – walking with wolves or owls at the window. Wake up! wake up!
I am not afraid of owls anymore. Now that they have invaded my dreams.
Mr Flowers is up in the barn recovering, I hope, after an altercation with Boo.
One thing farming has taught me is that no incident has only one reason or answer. Most accidents or events are the result of a perfect storm of small incidents or conditions.
A. I was not there to keep Boo in check.
B. Mr Flowers has taken to stalking Boo lately and flying at him.
C. Boo has become increasingly vigilant about guarding a pigs food from the birds.
Then D. the trigger – something totally unrelated to the skirmishes between Mr Flowers and Boo: Wai tried to fight Tima ( through the fence of her new home) and got his tusks caught in the fence. Wai was screaming, John was shouting at Wai to stay still while he wielded wire cutters trying cut the fence to release the potbelly, Ton was circling and whining in horror, Tima was roaring and trying to get at Wai from the other side of the fence and the peacock got too close to the frey. Boo reacted to John’s shouts for help, the bucket of feed was unguarded and he attacked.
John did not see what happened but I think Boo heeled the big bird. Literally bit at the birds heels to move him along. Not good. Now the peacock is hopping – one injured leg and one wing not tucked in properly. So Boo must have attacked from the side.
Yesterday Mr Flowers spent the day sitting quietly under the tractor – food and water within easy reach. And last night when I did my last check I found that he had flown up into the top of the barn to perch awkwardly in his usual sleeping spot. This afternoon he was in another spot up high in the barn.
Let’s hope Mr Flowers stays up there while he recovers. It is cold which is good -no flies – he has blood on his injured leg. And it is easy for me to feed and water him up there away from predators – Boo being one of them. And the peacock is moving about on his one good leg – so I can only wish for the best now.
From now on Boo stays in the truck or inside the house during feed time when John is in charge. This is an old rule, that I have re-read aloud. Boo is tricky to manage when the buckets are out for reasons A, B and C. This was terrible luck but at least now my co-worker will be more aware that he has to have Boo in full control and when there is trouble – lock the dogs down first- in the truck, in the house or leashed, John always wondered why I did this – now he knows.
Let’s hope Wai does not try to fight Tima through the fence again. The first time he got his tusks stuck in the fence was the day before this incident and I literally held Boo by his collar while I cut the pig free with my other hand. Boo is high maintenance.
But what a kafuffle.
I leave in a week for my longest trip home in years. I will be there for a month. And I will take you with me!
We will know if Mr Flowers is going to be ok by then. But birds are pretty resilient if we leave them to themselves to recover. I learnt that from The Duke.
TonTon is back on the farm. He was wearing Nanny out with his early morning starts. Out here on the farm my co-worker is up by 4am. So Ton is trained to get up early too.
So back to the farm he came: Bed, Bowl and All, and Nanny went to bed and slept for twelve hours straight!
Well, we gave it a crack!
It was cold for a moment but the wind has brought an uptick in temperatures again.
So we are settled in the 40’s for the week. The nights are a little cold but nothing too wintry so far. I hope this continues up until my flight date – which is the 11th of this month. I fly out to New Zealand then if all goes well I will catch another flight straight down to Queenstown, New Zealand. Some of my family will meet me there and finally I will be able to show you the South Island of New Zealand.
More on that later. I have given Tima her own pen for while I am away. It is hard to make sure Tane gets fed wile Tima is around. So Tima is out with the big pigs – next door to Sheila and Poppy- and Tane took himself in to sleep with WaiWai. Much to Wai’s horror I might add. Wai hates Tima – he has ended up blooded when Tima is around and so he associates Tane with Fat Tima.
But eventually I was able to get WaiWai to lie down so I could cover him up. They have to share this big mound of straw – and will get used to it. Both are survivors. And survivors can be sprites when faced with a challenge.
I will have them settled by the time I go and Tane will get better attention in the barn.
Speaking of pigs in the barn.
The Six are so grateful that they are allowed into the sunny center pen now. They spend more time here than outside!
I hope you have a lovely day.
This mornings bread is spelt, rye and glenn. When this loaf is perfected I will share the recipe with you. It is very tasty!
Off to work for me.
My owl was back last night, it was yesterday evening after work but it had been dark so long I don’t think I am remiss in calling it night. I was making the bed with fresh linen wishing I could just lie down and sleep in it alone and quiet for just a while, when I heard him. The owl. My owl. He comes only a few times a year and feels like a harbinger. I am afraid of him and his Hoo Hooing. He has preceded too many human tragedies for me to take his presence lightly.
His owl sound was round and pregnant and inside a bell like. Casual and patriarchal at the same time, like an old father who says no you can’t, just like he always does, from behind his large old fashioned newspaper, expected and final and calm but you know that if you defy the patriarchal no: you will get a hiding. I stood still in the winter bedroom ringed in frosted windows and doors with my unclothed pillow held in my arms like a forgotten baby and listened fearfully, hard. When I listen I always tilt my head to bring my good ear around into the direction of the sound. I had always wished for ears that followed sound on their own like a dogs or maybe a deer or a bat, but we are not thinking of ears again, as I stand holding a white pillow, we are talking of listening. We are trying to hear clearly. So, I stood still, my head cocked like a startled piglet, my ears not catlike, head down and turned, listening with what human senses I could muster.
I remembered that I had left my phone at work. I was without communication alone out here in this wide open frozen space. How would I know what he was foretelling. I wouldn’t.
He called again this bird. His silky sound.
I decided I had to see him. I had heard him intermittently across my tenure here on the plains but I have never seen.him. What is this human condition to see and poke at and investigate and get out the book and name something. It is so satisfying, whereas the naming somehow catches it and diminishes it. Locked inside its own description. Controlled. All nice and neat. Book shut.
I stood and listened to his call again and knowing that moving would send him away I could not ignore my need to see him. I would smash open this chocolate kinder surprise moment to identify the toy inside.
I slid in my soft feet quiet as the frightened mice to the French doors and keeping my eyes on the big trees I opened the door ever so slowly. I reminded myself again that this would scare him up but I would risk it so I could see him and then I could identify him and file him in the proper folder in my head. Capture his name. Control the fear he prodded in me. The fear that is never idle in a human. (And deep in my conscious I wonder if I was thinking if he was gone the bad things could not happen).
The door handle still cold in my hand, my head the impression of a peer out the door, he was already in the air and soaring away. Immediate. Pulling my head up. God arms outstretched. Silent. Launched. Huge and majestic and poised, he glided from his tree outside my window straight out across the reflective snow field. Not a word. Effortless. Sublime. Ancient. We did not have some epiphanic connection, I did not see him take off. Just the bird against the sky. I was unable to see any markings, no head shape or feathers or tail or tucked up feet. Nothing for my six million dollar human brain to catalogue. He was already a cut out, a shadow puppet, a memory imprint. His wings, his body, his head – turned into his path. This perfect huge portent of a bird. His night shape quickly left the circle of house light and soared through the half lit moonlight and was gone into the black horizon. But I knew him.
I cannot name him for you. Or describe him for you. Or put him in a class of owl birds. Or send you his sound. These small English words are not helpful. But we know him don’t we. My owl. And he is gone for the time being. Being time. Time being what it is.