(Yes, I’m finally getting round to writing up the rest of the trip…)
The weather hadn’t improved greatly the next day, and the forecast wasn’t looking good for the southern part of the island, so Stepfather suggested we give Fiordland a miss and just head straight for Dunedin. But I argued that Fiordland is probably the most spectacular part of New Zealand, so it seemed crazy for the Outlaws to miss it on what might be their only trip over here, and anyway, like the West Coast, Milford is one of those places that looks just as good in the rain. So we packed the tent into the campervan, along with a big tin of biscuits that Mum had baked for us while we were off exploring the day before, and set off back up the road towards Queenstown.
We didn’t bother going back into Queenstown itself, but turned off at Frankton to follow the edge of Lake Wakitipu down to Kingston. After Kingston, the landscape stops being dramatic and quietens down to the rolling green hills and farmland of Southland. I found that leg of the trip pretty boring, but Father Outlaw, having grown up on a farm, was fascinated by the differences between New Zealand and Welsh farming techniques, and kept slowing down to look more closely at how they’d built a fence or shorn the sheep, and kept asking me complicated questions about the breeds of sheep etc that I was completely unqualified to answer.
We eventually reached Te Anau early in the evening, and after getting lost a few times driving round the town centre (a difficult feat, given what a small town it is, but we managed somehow!) finally located the DOC information centre, where we could check the forecast for tomorrow (still not looking good, but we decided to risk Milford anyway, having come this far), and our camping ground (which it turned out we’d driven past twice while we were lost!). We set up camp, and then went and found a fish and chip shop for our tea (Mother Outlaw was very impressed because they actually offerred her vinegar on her chips – they must get a lot of British tourists coming in). I released a book outside one of the cafes – Malibu and Beverly Hills by Pat Booth.
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Our new home – campervan plus tent.