Tranquil lakes, lush forest and total R&R

I wake up to views out across Lake Te Anau looking so flat and tranquil. Behind it, a snow dusted mountain range with golden hues from the morning sun. Dawn’s chorus is playing, including some songs that I am not familiar with, perhaps a bellbird.

How lovely is this place?

I pop outside to go for a little wander and come across a couple of private hot tubs with exceptional views. I will certainly be coming back here later this afternoon for a soak.

The sky is blue at the moment but there are big black clouds looming in the distance, I am not worried though, Fiordland is one of those places that are truly remarkable in the rain, but for now, I will enjoy the stillness and the sun.

Heading back to our room, I stop to look at the artwork and old photos around the place depicting the area in times gone by. Some are not even that old, but there has been huge transformation. Fiordland is a very remote place, a lot of it wouldn’t have been that accessible too long ago.

Breakfast is enjoyed in the hotel restaurant next to the huge glass windows looking out across the landscape, including the Murchison Mountains where the thought to be extinct Takahe were rediscovered in 1948. Over breakfast we spend time chatting to the owner Andy about the history of the lodge, recommendations of things to do in the area and the impact Covid has had on the business. He is warm and friendly and we talk for quite a long time. It takes a special sort of person to run a place like this. Not everyone is gifted with that level of care and hospitality.

We decide to head out towards Milford Sound today and stop a various points of interest along the way. We make our way along State Highway 94, the same one I wrote about 2 posts ago in Memorable Moments of Te Waipounamu. I know I said in this post how beautiful it was and really worth the drive but I had forgotten just how stunning and breathtaking it is – I was delighted and surprised all over again. There is fresh snow on the mountains and lush green pastures. I get that same great feeling of just how awesome nature is. We stop in the area where dry grassy fields meet huge mountains. We stopped here last time (around 10 years ago) and I just had to get some more pictures.

We then make a stop at Mirror Lakes. I’m not sure I would really call it a lake, more of a pond or wetland, but regardless, the reflections are incredible. It is only a short walk from the road, an absolute must to stop at. I love how remote this part of the country is and having just come out of a lock down, we pretty much have the place to ourselves.

We carry on to Cascade Nature Walk. I saw a picture of this walk in a magazine at the lodge. With vibrant green forest dripping in moss, I knew we needed to come here. And it doesn’t disappoint. The moss is everywhere, on the ground, all over the tree trunks and branches. Everywhere you look is vibrant and green. There are predominantly Beech trees here and the forest has a very old feeling to it, like it carries secrets of times long ago. The only unusual thing I noticed was the lack of bird song. It is meant to be a nature walk and while we heard the odd bird, it wasn’t the melodic chorus I was expecting.

We head further a long State Highway 94 but can’t get all the way to Milford (although that wasn’t the plan) as the road is closed. This is a regular occurrence so if you are making a trip to Milford, be sure to check if the road is open before setting off. We make a stop at the entrance to Routeburn Track and head along the path for 5-10 minutes before heading back (Lunch in Te Anau is calling) Routeburn track is a 3 day hike through Fiordland and is one of Aotearoa’s Great Walks. I am yet to get into hiking but I think it’s something I would like to do!

Back in Te Anau, I find the town to be a ‘quiet sleepy’ place. All the blossoms are out though and it looks so pretty. We had planned to go to the Vintage Machinery Museum after lunch, but it is closed. Never mind. There is a very sweet little old school house on the grounds that I just have to photograph so it wasn’t a wasted trip.

We head back to the lodge to relax with a book and the open candy bar. Yes, you read that right, I am in sugar heaven! It’s then time for the hot tube with some exceptional views. The water is warm and relaxing. There is a cool breeze, but this mostly goes unnoticed as I soak in the beauty around us.

Early evening we head to the local cinema to watch a short film Andy had recommended at breakfast. It’s called Ata Whenua Shadowland and plays a couple of times daily. We have the cinema to ourselves, with a glass of wine and spend the next 30 minutes completely in awe. The film explores Fiordland through the seasons by aerial view with informative commentary. We leave wanting to book a helicopter flight so we can see more of this extraordinary place. (Conveniently, there is a helicopter tour company right next door to Fiordland Lodge where we are staying)

Our night concludes with a game of darts over wine and canapes. Daniel wins and I manage to get a dart into the carpet. This is followed by a lovely dinner as we watch the fading light. As we head back to our room, I make a quick stop at the candy bar.

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