Next, deep into Fiordland, to Te Anau, another little lakeside town, from where we struck out to Milford Sound. Rain lashing down, valleys filled with cloud and mist, dramatic but foreboding. Also many Chinese tourists bussed in from Queenstown. But the Sound rises above it all, jaw dropping in scale, near vertical cliffs rising 700m, with full size rain forest trees clinging to them, rise straight out of the water. The rain meant that hundreds of temporary waterfalls were active, adding to the spectacle. We joined a nature cruise and saw bottlenose dolphins, surfing the bow wave of a cruise ship, as well as seals and blue penguins. This is one we will always remember.
Another is Aoroki/Mount Cook, but more on that later. FIrst we dropped in on Dunedin, where the city fathers in gold rush days had great plans to create the Edinburgh of the south. While maybe not quite that, it has some very fine Victorian buildings and the same vibe as many boom towns of that era, like Calgary and Glasgow. There is an amazing confection of a station, from where the Taieri Gorge Railway sets out. This has to be one of the craziest places to build a track, along steep fragile cliffs of fragile schist, with dozens of tunnels, and bridges across raging torrents. We decided to escape the rain and driving (and a small recompense for missing the long scenic coastal trip) by taking this 4 hour excursion and it was well worth it. The river was fuller than any of the crew could remember and it was a good way to access remote countryside effortlessly.