We drove to Te Anau via Gore so we could see friends, and then set up camp at the Totara campsite in the Eglinton Valley on the road to Milford Sound. We had almost the whole camp to ourselves, and it was nice not having the whole 2 hour drive from Te Anau to Milford. We did have a very cold night in our tent when it got down to 3 degrees one night – how can this be summer?! The day we went to Milford Sound, we got up late, and left around 12, which was great as it meant we missed most of the tour buses. On the way to Milford, we stopped at Mirror Lakes and then pressed on to make our 3pm cruise. There were only 20 people aboard our cruise which was lovely – we were able to move all over the boat to get the best views. We had good views of Mitre Peak (partially obscured by clouds though) and enjoyed seeing around the Sound (which we learned should really be called a fjord as it was formed by ice). On the way back, we stopped at the Chasm and to see keas on the other side of Homer tunnel – both were worth a look.
We drove to Queenstown via Manapouri – as we weren’t doing the Doubtful sound cruise or a power station tour, there wasn’t a lot to see, but it was a nice place for a picnic lunch. Arriving in Queenstown, we set up camp at 12 mile Delta campsite – just outside of Queenstown, and another DOC campsite. In our first few days in Queenstown, we have sampled delicious chocolates at Patagonia chocolates, cruised on the lake with Southern Discoveries (and been disgusted at the pollution we saw from the TS Earnslaw!) gone for a swim at the events centre (one of the downsides of DOC campsites is no showers – the pool had good ones and was a fun pool too) gone for cocktails at the Below Zero ice bar (made totally from ice) and explored Arrowtown. Arrowtown is a small settlement about half an hour from Queenstown and was originally a gold mining town. There is a really well done museum with lots of interesting exhibits, and a Chinese settlement where the Chinese miners lived which you can walk through and explore.