April 21, 2008

South Island Photos - Doubtful Sound

One of the things I most wanted to do on the South Island was to spend a night on one of the fjords. The most famous is Milford Sound, but Doubtful Sound has a reputation for being equally beautiful, without the crowds. Since Doubtful Sound also required less driving time Jerry and I decided to go for the Doubtful overnight cruise. We boarded the bus early in the morning.
After about an hour and a half we stopped in Kingston for a ride on the Kingston Steam Train.
Jerry made himself at home in the baggage car
while I stood outside taking pictures.
Our bus was waiting to pick us up after the 40 minute train ride. From there we had another hour on the bus before we transferred to boat
for the hour long crossing of Lake Manapouri.
A second bus drove us from the other side of the lake across Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound. The road through Wilmot Pass was built to move supplies for the construction of the Manapouri Power Station, completed in 1971. Access to the power station is via a 2 km tunnel that spirals down to the machine hall, 176m below lake level.

Here's our first view of the sound--which is actually a fjord. Caprtain Cook mislabeled it a sound. What's the difference between a fjord and a sound? According to the nature guide on our boat, a sound is a flooded river valley and a fjord is formed when sea water floods a valley created by retreating glaciers. When the bus driver let us out to photograph the beautiful view, this little Tom Tit landed on the rear view mirror of our bus, luring people away from the scenery to photograph his antics.
Before long we were aboard our boat, the Navigator.Jerry and I had our own room with an en suite bathroom--very extravagant after having to go outside and into another building to get to the shared toilet at the hostel!
There were about 60 passengers on board.We kayaked along this stretch of coastline. You know how kayaking looks all peaceful and easy when someone else is doing it? It's hard work when you're the one in the kayak! Especially if your 12-year-old son is in tow. Oh, and you know how annoying mosquitoes are? They're a walk in the park compared to sandflies! The kayaking was nice but after battling with the sandflies I decided there is a time and a place for DEET and we had arrived.
There's a Maori legend about the creation of fjordland. Once it was complete all the gods looked at it and were please. But one of them cursed the area with sandflies to keep humans from destroying the pristine beauty. It's worked so far.

This is the opening to the Tasman Sea. There was a big difference between the calm waters of the fjord and the rolling waters of the Tasman.Jerry met a boy named Matthew on the boat. He used to say he wasn't any good at making friends, but I think our stay in NZ has shown him that he's, in fact, quite good at it. He makes friends wherever we go.Jerry was so excited to be sleeping on a boat we stayed up talking well into the night. I was up early, though (Jerry slept in) so I could watch the sun rise.Jerry and his friends spent most of the morning in the lounge playing board games.Most everyone came outside to experience five minutes of absolute silence when the captain turned off the boat and all its generators.
It was awesome, in the truest sense of the word.

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