Up early to escape, I mean depart, Stewart Island. Na, it wasn't so bad, just a bit claustrophobic for a couple of gals from the wide brown land. Anyway, we boarded the ferry and set sail for the mainland packed to capacity. (See, we weren't the only ones keen to make a break for it.)
Personally, I thought the ride was calmer but plenty of others would disagree. First the lady in front of us started barfing, then a girl down the front. Then the lady behind us, then the lady two in front and her kid. Then the hubby of the first lady, and the hubby of the lady behind us, who heaved right from his toes.
To the left people barfed, to the right people barfed and we watched on with morbid fascination as one after another people indiscriminately succumbed to the mighty and nauseating power of the sea. I was kind of sorry when it was over but I'm sure the two crew members tasked with carting away spew bags weren't. The lady in front of us filled three all on her own.
Back on dry land we cheerfully reunited with Shadowfax (aka the car) and with that jolly experience behind us we pointed him north, big things awaited us.
First up was the Big Paua in Riverton and then the Big Surfer in Colac Bay. Probably not the most exciting attractions in the world but we'd have never heard the end of it from Shawn if we'd driven on by.
Next we stopped at Gemstone Beach, which sounded lovely, it periodically changes from sand to pebbles and the occasional garnet appears from time to time. In reality it faces the savage Southern Ocean and gale force winds send waves crashing up the beach, creating masses of foam that roll up the sand like chunks of cotton candy. Don't get me wrong, it was awesome, just not quite what we were expecting.
A little further down the road we came to McCracken’s Rest where the road turns inland and there are views of both the sea and the mountains. We said goodbye to the Southern Ocean and headed north to see what adventures awaited us in the mountains.
Our first destination was Lake Hauroko, New Zealand's deepest lake at 462m deep. When we originally researched this trip it was on our list but with the Stewart Island schedule it got pushed out. Now that the ferry was bumped to the morning Lake Hauroko was possible again.
It is 32km off the main road and the first 12km are fine. The next 20km are pretty narrow and rocky but 14km in we hit Fiordland National Park and it didn't matter.
Fiordland is the national park in NZ. World heritage listed, it covers 12,500 sq km and has 14 fiords spanning 215km of coastline.
We stopped and had a picnic lunch and then continued on to the lake. It was beautiful with deep blue water and surrounded by mountains. We also saw a New Zealand rarity, the sun. For the whole afternoon it actually shone.
Back on the main road we had a quick stop to walk across Clifden suspension bridge which was built in 1899 and at 111m was the longest bridge in NZ at the time of its construction.
Next we headed for Lake Manapouri and checked into our motel on the lakeshore. At first they couldn't find our booking, then they said we'd actually booked it for the 6th to the 8th, which I knew we definitely hadn't, so they produced the booking sheet which belonged to another person who happened to have the same first and last name as Lil Sis. Anyway, eventually we got it sorted.
A motel on the lakeshore proved the perfect opportunity to do laundry as we could sit on the porch and gaze across at the lake and the mountains while the clothes washed, and then while they dried we walked across the road and sat on the beach.
Now, it would be remiss of us to visit Fiordland without seeing a fiord, so that's the plan for tomorrow...