Milford Sound, Guns camp, Steward Island and Dunedin – New Zealand

This is it! This is the New Zealand I came to see!

Don’t get me wrong, I really like NZ so far but I haven’t had a moment that my mouth just fell open saying “wow”.

Milford Sound was our next stop from Queenstown and it’s in the remote south of New Zealand. We drove for 4 hours of wilderness with no cell phone reach and almost no people on the road until we came to a harbour for a cruise though the Milford sound. The road there looked amazing because of the hundreds of waterfalls on the huge mountains that constantly surround you. This looked like nothing I seen before and apparently its looks even more amazing when it rains. Later on the cruise the captain sailed right into a couple of waterfall’s and we saw seals and dolphins. This is a must see in New Zealand.

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IMG_0808After the cruise we headed for “Guns Camp”. The government wanted to create a road from Milford to Queenstown but never finished it. So now it’s just a road into a remote region of NZ with just one stop: Guns Camp. I think this used to be logging camp because they just have little wooden huts from 1920. It was run by a nice old couple and the old man appointed a fireman in every hut. Every hut had a coal and wood stove that you had to keep going to stay warm at night. Every hour they needed to checked and it really added to the remote atmosphere. The cold, dark and starlit night gave me a real sense of living away from civilization: The simple life! On the other hand it was father’s day in the Netherlands and without phone or internet I couldn’t reach my dad (sorry dad). I can now officially complain with the old guys at the bar about the ‘old days’ where you would stay next to the stove not to freeze to death 😀 .

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After Guns camp I hopped off the bus at an airport. I had bought a ticket to Stewart island: the most south and third island of New Zealand. Normally there are 400 people living on this island but now in the winter it was more like 100. The only place still open for me was the hotel which was also the only restaurant and bar/pub open. The guy checking me in on the airport was steward, baggage boy and also the pilot of our 6 person plane. Safety briefing was really funny as well, “there are the lifejackets…. OK? Let’s go!”.

I did some great hikes on the island and with my own room there I even slept a few days in 😳 .  The whole atmosphere is like one of a really small village (guess that a hundred people, haha). Old men discussing the days fishing and a couple off drunks at the bar and everybody greets each other and askes you where you’re from.. During the day its rare to see someone doing hikes too except when I went to a small island called “Ulva Island”. This is a bird sanctuary where bird don’t care what you are and just keep doing their daily thing so you can get really close (if they haven’t already come really close to you!). I bought a ticket for the water taxi there which was actually just a leave from a tree and met up with a German guy and a Canadian and American girl. We hiked the island together and it was really nice. Fantails (a type off bird) follow you to see if you stir up any insects they can snatch out the sky and huge parrots climb the trees all over the island. On the beaches there are flightless birds that try to beg (or steal) food. There really funny and smart. Especially when they stole the German guys Tabaco.

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I took the ferry off the island with was pretty bumpy (and fun). I never have been seasick but it’s really funny to see other people turn green :D. I got back on the bus to Dunedin which is a Scottish settlement. During the way we stopped to see (and be chased by) sea lions and tried to get a glimpse of the elusive “yellow eyed” penguin. Off course it eluded us and we didn’t get to see him… In Dunedin we stopped at the worlds steepest commercial road.  I’d love to drive up that road but since I was lacking a motor vehicle I just hiked up. I stayed at “On Top backpackers” where I hooked up again with the people I met at Steward Island.

In Dunedin me and a Canadian Girl visited a peninsula with a private penguin and sea lion reserve. It was fantastic because you’re walking on the beach with sea lions everywhere. You see them playing (fighting) and goofing  around and I even got a shot at the darn elusive Yellow eyed penguin (camera shot that is 😎 ).  3 Meter wide Albatross birds are flying there as well. I took allot of really nice pictures there.

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Next up is Mount Cook!

Cheers,

René