Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I'm sitting in a backpackers lodge in Te Anau (and the only way I remember how to pronounce it is by activating my Laura Branigan Te Amo earworm, which has been extremely annoying), using very slow wireless, and feeling a bit disappointed.

We just went to the Info Centre to book a glowworm caves cruise for tonight, and found out that the Milford Sound road is closing tonight and won't be reopened until the weather settles out... maybe tomorrow, maybe in three days. So we might not get to see Milford Sound, which is such a shame for the boys (I've been there before) but I guess this is just one of those things when you travel to wintery places in Winter.

We're all a bit tired and snappish, but it's a result of having fun. For the last two days we've been at Stewart Island, the third Island of New Zealand, and yesterday spent the afternoon at Ulva Island, a small bird sanctuary in the inlet of the island. We've seen so many fabulous birds, including Kakas, Robins, Tui, and a large flightless beach-foraging bird (not a Kiwi) that I can't remember the name for: Weka? Weba? Something like that. I have a bird book, but it's over in the other building, and I'm just happy to be sitting right now.

We stayed at the most wonderful Bed & Breakfast, called Jo & Andy's B&B. Jo & Andy are two older people with oodles of life experience who set up a B&B to give themselves better entertainment than the TV, by the looks of it. The house is charming and stuffed to the gills with books and places to read them, and is clean but not overly clean (dusty ornaments but clean floors, which to me says conscientious but too busy to be constantly dusting). Jo is more business-like, and is obviously The Boss in an understated way, and Andy is the handy dreamer, who builds his own fish-smoker in the back yard (I can still taste his home-made smoked salmon) and adores talking to the visitors as he rolls a cigarette (smoked outside) about anything from world politics through to last month's hit movies, all with a big grin on his face, and frequent and joyful use of the word COOL. Once we got talking, we kept talking. It was great. He also makes his own bread, and provides a hearty breakfast every morning of oatmeal & muesli and yogurt mixed with banana and blueberries, followed by a poached egg on his homemade toast. Yum.

Andy is also a masseur, and yesterday afternoon I got one of the best massages I've ever had. That was after Ulva Island, which I'd been thinking of giving a miss because the morning had been a sheet of rain, but Andy told me that the weather there is so variable that I should 'just do what you want to do and let the weather follow you'. So we went to Ulva by watertaxi -- seeing penguins swimming in the water next to the boat -- and once we got to Ulva, the sun came out. Good old Andy.

That's it for now. I've got lots of beautiful photos, but will wait until I get to more stable internet before I upload them. Hope you're all having a fun time where you are too!


fifi said...

My almost-favourite place!
It is so lovely in fiordland, every second I was there is engaved onmy mind.
Are those birds called keas?
Alpine parrots, really gorgeous...

fifi said...

engraved on my mind,

Ampersand Duck said...

Heh, I heart that keyborting. They are called Weka. And they are delightfully greedy flightless bag-rustling beach birds.

Cozalcoatl said...

Sounds wonderful. I need to get to NZ some day.

As the biggest Footrot Flats fan as a kid, I seem to remember Wekas as big birds that ate duckings and anything else that got in their way.
The only stuffed animal i have left is a very scruffy 'Dog' I've had since I was 13 or so.

Ampersand Duck said...

We've got one of those too! From my childhood! Dad used to wet himself over FF.