Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Beginnings Four

We had to go to the place where bunjy jumping started! Not that we were going to do it, just for looks. We talked about doing it, but when Mihai told me that one of the cords broke, and showed us the footage , it was the end of discussion. 
On the right down corner you can see the road cutting the mountain and a little bit above, covered by clouds, the lake Wakatipu.

Getting there it was another half day of driving on steep and winding roads, arriving at the Crown Range Road, a pass over the Alps, from where we had wonderful views. Getting down from that pass into the valley was another experience, that I don’t wish to repeat, turning almost 340 degrees on each serpentine, and being passed by cyclists!
We decide to take the gondola up the hill and have a view of the pass and the Wakatipu lake. As we were walking we saw some paragliders riding the wind and the last one was doing some crazy loops. I didn’t know that you can do tricks like that! But when we wanted to do the paragliding, they said it was closed because of the wind over the lake. Sooo, you can’t do tricks, it was the wind and that person got more than he paid for. 
We take our time with the view, then we enjoy the Luge, a winding go carts course.

Te Anau
First time I heard New Zeeandeeze I didn’t understand a word. Politely, I asked the other person to repeat. It was English, but the accent! OK is pronounced AK. I thought that maybe the Maori had some influence, but no. I have no reason why the name Te Anau is pronounced Tea-Ah-Noo.
Mihai walked around and said that they have a pizzeria right across from the Italian Restaurant, and everything is touristic. We saw it next day from the car as we were going toward Milford Sound.
Every touristic pamphlet warns you that the Milford Road is a difficult one. Not only because there are touristic buses on it, and it’s going left and right as a driving license test, but because it is beautiful, and you want to look at it. If you just drive it should take 2 and a half hours. But for us was more like four. 
Mirror lakes

a valley,

 some other views, the great divide (a ridge that marks the change in the vegetation). We go on a cruise to Milford Sound, one of the most beautiful fiords from here. It is a perfect day, sunny and warm. 

We go to the top deck and brave the wind in exchange for the views. We admire the cliffs, the vegetation that clings to them, a few waterfalls.

 It is nice. Not what we expected, but we didn’t know what to expect. We just drove on the left side of the fiord, between the parallel lines of foam on the water,

 made a turn, 
and returned on the right side, 

close enough to a waterfall to be sprayed by it. As we were trying to find a better angle to take photos of it, we went through the middle deck, where the men from the Chinese group were playing cards!
On the way back, we stopped at the Parallel 45 South, because we live on the North one. It is colder here! As we were all facing the camera, a bird felt confident enough to approach it and attack the cord, taking it like it would be a snake.

We spend the night 20 minutes away of Te Anau, in a campground that looks like a Grimm’s Brothers village dotted with vintage cars. It is on the shore of the lake Manapouri. We witness a beautiful sunset,

 eat Turkish kebabs made by an Indian from Kerala (who misses his family) and enjoy that feeling of contented tiredness. In the early morning we’re leaving for Doubtful Sound. The day before the weather was sunny ... This day is foggy and rainy...
As we’re leaving the camp we scratch someone else’s van. It’s going to cost us!
The guide for our cruise takes us on a boat on lake Manapouri, 

and while he drives, he tells us facts about the lake and the power station. This glacier lake is separated from the sea by some hundred meters of granite and gneiss. Because of the location they wanted to build an aluminum smelting factory and this requires a lot of energy, that would be taken from the power station. For this they wanted to raise the lake’s level. The project attracted attention and determined an environmental awareness. The power station was built through drilling and blasting (16 people died) and when they finished, they realized they didn’t have room to turn around the heavy machinery. To get them out they had to drive backwards in pitch dark (the combination of artificial light and the gases in the tunnel was an explosive one) In the beginning it couldn’t work at full power, because they couldn’t handle the output water. They had to cut a new tunnel, this one with a rotor, as the technology advanced in the meantime. The lake’s level stayed the same and actually, they fluctuate it to simulate the normal conditions.
We visited the power station,

 viewing the rotors from above, reading the materials and watching short documentaries.

From here we took the bus toward the boat that would take us in the fiord. The guide explained that captain Cook didn’t want to enter in the fiord because he was doubtful he could get out. His ship was too big and he needed the eastern winds, which are not available on this western fiord. And that’s how it got the name of the Doubtful Bay. Later, the Spaniards came and wanted to do a good job and changed it to Doubtful Sound. The sound is made by rivers, and has a V shape. The fiords are made by a glacier and have a U shape. Though incorrect, the name stuck.
On the second boat we have lunch and as we eat we look outside through the raindrops. Hills are floating in the water, enveloped in their own shrouds of clouds. 

When we come close to them, they look the same as the ones from Milford Sound. Behind us the fiord seems to close like a zipper. 
We are getting closer to the Tasman Sea. The wind blows with fury. We stay behind some small islands and watch the fur seals and the birds. 

As we return we learn that this is another unique place. When it rains, the water funnels down through the vegetation on the fiords’ walls and picks up tannins, that color it brown like a tea. When it reaches the sea, the different density makes it float above the sea water in a layer one to fifteen meters thick. This blocks the light, and makes it possible for the black corral and other dark living creatures to live at higher levels.
We sit at our table and enjoy the views. It has to do with being hidden, with the perspective, as each cliff is a light shadier than the previous one.

It is a long debate: which fiord is better, Milford or Doubtful? We couldn’t make up our minds so we had to see them both. In the end, hands down, won Doubtful. Maybe the pictures will help you choose your favorite, but if not, you have to go see for yourself.

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