After the very long stay in Queenstown it felt weird to be packing up! We were all a little sad to say goodbye to our amazing apartment, which none of us will ever forget.
After a quick stop to replace my shoes (I wore the same ones about 95% of the time since August!) we headed even further south to Te Anau, gateway to Milford Sound. More splendid scenery on the way. The first bit followed along Lake Wakatipu (the same lake we stayed on).
At the end of the lake sits the little town of Kingston, where we stopped for lunch. Kingston was formerly the train terminus and gateway to Queenstown. Before all the roads were built one would take a train to Kingston from Dunedin and meet the steamboat Earnslaw (look back to our first Queenstown post for pictures of that), which shuttled people and goods to town. It is hard to fathom just how remote that was!
We were in luck that the café in the old station was already open (not all businesses are yet) and we had a warm lunch in a fun historic setting. It was the first weekend of duck hunting season, and a few participants were eating on other side of restaurant. They left their boots at the door. We’ve learned now that here “no shoes, no service” doesn’t apply!
At some point in the last 4-5 years the train had been stopped, even for scenic trips, though we’d heard some cars and maybe engines were still around to view. What we didn’t expect was to see the train moving! It seems a group is trying to get the scenic route up and running! While we could only watch, Steve was thrilled to see it in action.
The scenery changed along the way to include much less mountainous, but still hilly, farmland. Many small towns (some just a building or two) dotted the road.
We then arrived in Te Anau, which was clearly made entirely for tourists. Our motel owner/operators were incredibly friendly and helpful. They were also glad to see us!
We walked into town to discover a fun playground and about 3 of 20 restaurants open! It was a ghost town. The local pub/restaurant had cricket on tv and we spent quite some time trying to sort out what was happening, to no avail.
And then back to the hotel to get a good nights rest before Milford Sound.