February 3, 2016
The sun is out and a nice breeze has come up while I compose with a Speight’s Triple Hop Pilsner to assist in my elocution. Not sure who this Kiwi Speight was but he along with a bunch of other NZ immigrants knew the solution to the sunburned dryness. Given the rainforests that we have been traipsing through this may sound strange. But let me try to reconstruct the visuals from today.
We left our poor attempt at Buddhist-Hindu Yoga Karma quarters from last night in Queenstown. Maybe I was tired from the long drives but the whack job redecorating that the owners of the Zen Center was plain weird. I have recovered from the iron bench but I am not dealing well with the all black shower juxtaposed to the pink Formica vanity. The black wool drapes were worse than Impractical.
I now find myself of the porch of our little cabin in Te Anau. It is such a pleasure to rent these cozy cabins from the locals. We have a “Barby” ready for our steaks procured from a supermarket that was laid out like an American store. Maybe we learned from the Kiwis. Anyway, NZ has plenty of livestock and few people so the meat prices are easy on the pocketbook. Especially cheap are mutton and lamb. I just need to get used to the idea of consuming one of those living rugs. We will also manage a local screw cap Merlot-Cabernet.
Back to the store. For sure there are plenty of local strange commodities like Wheatabix to which I am getting addicted. We have not looked too hard for vegemite. It requires a childhood exposure to develop the taste buds that don’t gag at the smell. Anyway, it is summer and the fruits and vegetables are wonderful. I am looking forward to a steak and salad tonight after the strange “Tantric” meal from last night.
Back to the cottage. Our place is decorated just like a typical English B&B without the climate induced mustiness. There is a fly rod in the living room that is perfect. The weather feels like California and the windows and doors are open. This may be momentary since the Sandflies arrive at dusk. We are prepared with Deet and other deterrents. Even Captain Cook thought these little vampires were worse than cannibals back in 1774.
On the road this morning we drove up into the Remarkables Mountain range as we left Queenstown. It is setting for many of the mountain trekking scenes in the Ring Trilogy. I didn’t see either dwarfs or elfs or orcs but did see some construction gear. The views were great and we left without a scratch.
The two hour drive to Te Anau was uneventful as traffic was light and mostly tour bus free. The scenery changed from Eastern Washington to Northern Nevada as the land dried out. After all it is midsummer. At the crossroads town of Mossburn we stopped to visit the traveler’s necessity. I was astounded by the 10 urinals and two toilets in the park restroom. That was enough to have the entire town relieve themselves at the same time. Since I usually leave the place before the women, I could hear their loud cackles about something. We had to return and take a photo of the visual instructions on toilet use left for Asian visitors. I now understand why every tour bus from Queenstown must stop in Mossburn.
We arrived in Te Anau with time to spare before our cottage would be ready. We enjoyed a picnic lunch by Lake Te Anau before exploring the National Park headquarters. We educated ourselves about local history and the area’s World Heritage status. We were then directed to the local aviary that breeds rare and endangered birds.
My favorites are the parrots. The Kea is not endangered but the Kaka is having difficulty breeding since it nests in holes in the ground. Pigs and feral cats developed a taste for Kaka. A tasteless pun was intended. The aviary raises the young for release on safe islands. The same is true for the flightless Takahe. These poor guys don’t compete well with cats. They are about the size of a fat chicken and have bright red Roman nose shaped beaks. The Takahe is one of a number NZ birds that did well in isolation before mammalian predators. This group would include the gigantic Moa that the Maori quickly hunted to extinction upon their arrival in NZ some five centuries ago.
We are prepped for our tour of Milford Sound tomorrow. With luck we will have today’s weather. Our host said that it was freezing here last week while we were toasting in Fiji. There is always a role of the dice in travel.