NZ 2011. Fjordland.

By the time we’d arrived to Te Anau in the far south of South Island we’d settled well into the trip, although the grin was still permanently fixed to my face. I should mention here that packing for a three month trip to another hemisphere was a tricky business. We’d bought large, soft, wheeled, valise-style bags and were aware we’d need to cover all weather eventualities. Here in Fjordland I was very glad of my thick fleece jacket and the layers beneath it and we made good use of the electric heater in the van. The site at Te Anau was one of the ‘chain’ variety, for which we held a discount card and had luxurious amenities with underfloor heating- much appreciated!

Despite the cold, Te Anau was an unearthly place- snow topped mountains reflected in the lake, which was opposite our site. The plan was to get a tour to Milford Sound, which I knew to be an iconic sight. We could get a coach and boat combined trip, better than trying to drive ourselves as the snow-laden roads promised to be difficult.

Having settled at the site and arranged our trip we strolled out in the bitter night air and found a bar where we could watch the day’s match [Japan and the Allblacks, as I recall].

We got an early start on our bus next day but the driver was informative and chatty, making stops for us to see places of interest en route, increasingly snowy as we went. Once we stopped and clambered out into the snow to make snowballs and photograph the landscape and in one of the places cheeky Kea parrots were busy dismantling the rubber trim around a vehicle’s windows. On arrival to Milford Sound we had lunch, then boarded the boat for a tour around the cliffs, inlets and waterfalls of the sound.

This is a place where weather is immaterial. On our day the sky was heavy with grey cloud, the water iron-grey. An occasional sunbeam brushed the tops of the towering mountains with a bright glow. Our skipper took us along the cliffs to where tumults of waterfalls fell, close enough to be drenched, or near to huge expanses of rock where fat sea lions basked. It is impossible to fully describe the majesty of the towering cliff walls of the sound, or the thundering foam of the waterfalls, but it is an unforgettable experience.

We returned to Te Anau via more wonderful places. At ‘The Chasm’, foaming water thundered along deep beneath a huge rock with natural viewing tunnels and in the temperate rainforest I decided I’d fallen completely in love with tree ferns which were everywhere, casting their umbrella fronds in graceful arcs.

Next day we were off again, this time to New Zealand’s great activity playground and with outrageously gorgeous scenery to boot…

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook

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