Saturday, March 22, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008
Te Anau, New Zealand

I am at Te Anau tonight.

Last night and this morning I was really down. I felt like an idiot because I had lost my camera. I was afraid I had left it when I sat down to talk to some fellow tour members at Moeraki Boulders.

The I remembered that I took pictures at The World's Steepest Street and at the University of Otago in Dunedin after that visit.

My hope was that I had left it on the bus and that turned out to be true so I have it back.

It was quite cold in Dunedin this morning. I think I had planned beautifully for any type of weather. Unfortunately losing my blazer in the Auckland airport made my clothing inadequate.

The wind was blowing in Dunedin also.

I walked around town this morning. Dunedin was the richest town in New Zealand in the 1800's because of the gold mining and the buildings show it. The railway station in particular is stunning. Many of the buildings in Otago are built of Oamaru limestone. It is very white. It is so soft they can be cut with saws. When it weathers though, it becomes hard.

After lunch we left Dunedin and went through farmland to Te Anau. We saw a lot of sheep.

The bus is very comfortable. We are 25 people in a bus that probably could hold close to 50 so I am never in a bad seat. I usually sit by myself about in the middle of the bus on the right side.

I am very pleased with my Gate 1 tour package. We have seen many more sights than were in the brochure and they are very accommodating about extras. The hotels are much better than I had expected. I would definitely go with them again.

Houses in New Zealand seem to be priced around $400,000 for an ordinary house. The interest rate on mortgages is about 9.5%. The length of a mortgage is between 6 months and 5 years. No mortgage is more than five years. When your mortgage expires, you find another mortgage for a further period.

Today's hotel also has a big flat screen TV. When I got here I could not turn it one with the remote. Just could not figure it out. I went to the front desk to inquire and they asked if I had turned the TV on on the side of the TV. Well, no. Maybe flat screens around the world are this way and I showed myself as being too poor to have one at home.


6:30 Wake-up call
7:30 Suitcase in hall
8:30 leave for Milford Sound
11:30 Cruise on the Sound
Later on we go to Queenstown where we spend 3 nights.

Saturday, March 15, 2008
Queenstown, New Zealand

We were up and off to Milford Sound.

It was pouring rain all day in 1981 when the four of us took a boat tour of Milford Sound. It caused thousands of waterfalls to cascade down the mountains into the valleys and the sound.

A sound is built by a river. Milford Sound was built by glaciers so technically it is not a sound but a fiord.

We had a box lunch on the boat. The weather was beautiful but whether it is perfect is up to interpretation. In the end, I prefer the rain and the waterfalls, but everyone on the tour was thrilled with the weather.

Last time I was anxious and worried during the cruise, this time I was not.

To what do I attribute this:
1. I'm older and wiser.
2. My children and not with me so I no longer have to worry about them drowning.
3. Prozac.

Milford Sound is very deep and the mountain walls are steep so the water is deep up to the edge. Although the sound is narrow, the Queen Elizabeth II used to go into Milford Sound.The tour boats go very close to the walls and that bothered me last time. This year, no.

The dolphins came out in front of the boat. They like to surf in front of the boat because the water just pushes them along.

After the boat trip it was back on the bus and we drove over to Queenstown. Our beautiful hotel is the Millennium and we will be here three nights.

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