Saturday, January 16, 2016

Carlson Honeymoon! Volume II: New Zealand Cruise, Part III: Milford Sound Overnight Tour to Dunedin

I thought I would post a map of where this tour has taken us.

The star on the western coast is the Milford Sound, the star directly south is Te Anau, the star next to the red 6 is Queenstown, and the star on the east coast is Dunedin.

We were awoken the next morning by a "wake up call" (which was scheduled WAY TOO early!), packed up, ate a delicious buffet at the hotel, and then jumped on the bus. Brian took us for a short drive across town where we ended up at a Gondola! He told us that we only had 25 minutes to get to the top (Bobs Peak), take our pictures, and get back to the bus. Got it! 

Josh and I hopped into our own gondola (I think he was nervous) and when we got to the top we saw this:

Beautiful! Breathtaking! Spectacular! I don't know how else to describe this view! It truly is a town fit for a queen (see what I did there?)! We were also told that Peter Jackson spent a lot of time in Queenstown while they were filming LOTRs and The Hobbit! I had to take pictures of everything just in case it was in the films!

[Jelly bean pictures... interesting...]

On Bob's Peak you can bungy jump, ride the Luge, go for a hike or bike ride, or ride the ski lift. We didn't have time to do any of these things so I took a picture with one of the Luge carts at the bottom of the hill. 

We then got back on the bus and Brian drove us to Arrowtown (a old town from the gold rush). He gave us a few minutes to walk around the cute town before we continued our journey.

We continued through the picturesque Kawarau Gorge where we stopped at the old Kawarau Bridge where we watched people bungy jump! I wanted to do it so badly but we didn't have time! It was here that I decided that we would come back one day so that I could bungy jump here!

We then made a quick, unscheduled stop at a fruit stand where we could taste various local fruits and nuts. 

Throughout the drive we passed a lot of vineyards and sheep and deer farms. Did you know there are more sheep in New Zealand than people?! 

At noon we stopped at The Packing Shed for lunch. This is a super cute house that is owned by and old gold miner and his wife. They usually host weddings and parties and they serve the BEST smoked salmon that I have ever had!

The property is covered with beautiful plants and flowers and even some old rusted gold mining equipment. 

After lunch we passed through the sheep farming districts of Lawrence and Milton.

At 5:00 PM we arrived in Dunedin! We needed to be on the ship by 5:15 PM so we only had a few minutes to explore the city.

Brian took us to the Railway Station where we quickly took pictures before heading to the dock.

We boarded the ms Noordam with only a few minutes to spare! Phew! What an intense day! I remember when I was signing up for this excursion that it said it was a "Level 5 - Strenuous" for the activity level. I thought this meant that we would be hiking a lot but apparently not. I asked Brian about this and he said it was given such a high rating because there is constant movement. We get on the bus, we get off the bus, we walk around, we get on the bus, we get off the bus, etc. It all happens very quickly! So you need to be in good enough shape to handle that.

When we were all aboard the Captain announced that on our way out we would be steaming pass an Albatross breeding ground. Josh and I stood out on the back deck so we could see the magnificent birds!

[The tides were strong so a few tug boats came to help the Noordam get away from the dock]

[Because it rains so much in New Zealand (over 20 feet in the Milford Sound) trees grow faster here. They grow these trees, cut them down when they are tall, and then ship them off to Asia]

[Yes, it was cold!]

We had to wait for about 30 minutes before we cruised pass the point where the Albatross' were. They were far away but we were able to see them flying! They are huge!

Driving across a country is the best way to see it! Hands down! Especially New Zealand! We had such a great time on this excursion and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

After two long days of sight seeing I was ready to be back on the ship. And I was really excited for our next stop: Akaroa! Where we would be going on the first of our Lord of the Rings tours!

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