We left Queenstown early Friday 6th January, heading for Te Anau then Milford Sound. The sun hadn’t fully risen so there was a quiet, eerie glow over the town as most people seemingly hadn’t woken up. We were told we would arrive in Te Anau at around 10.30am for a (very) early lunch. We were allowed around 1 hr to check out the town and eat. Although we had only just had breakfast. We travelled past more beautiful scenery and on the way out of were told the maori story of how Lake Wakatipu was formed.
Maori legend of Lake Wakatipu (extract taken from http://www.queenstown.nz.com/lake-wakatipu.aspx)
The Maori legends state that the giant Matau was burnt to death in his sleep after he abducted a chief’s daughter, burning a massive hole in the ground and melting the ice and snow of the surrounding mountains, forming the lake. The lake is a large “S” shape, like a giant, curled up and sleeping on its side. Matau’s head rested at Glenorchy, at the north of the lake, and his feet south in Kingston. Queenstown sits on Matau’s knee.
One of Wakatipu’s mysteries is the rise and fall of the lake by about 12cm (5″) every five minutes. Legend states that a Giant’s heart is impossible to destroy, and causes this rise and fall, while science says it is due to fluctuating atmospheric pressures. But across the lake from the town below Cecil Peak is a little island visible only from up close, from above, or from a different angle. Some say Hidden Island is the still beating heart of the Giant Matua…
When we arrived in Te Anau we got off the bus and walked around town. It’s a nice, small town but most of us stayed in the area near where the bus was parked because we were told we had a tight schedule and had to leave at the stated time of 11.45am. Unfortunately Clarke wasn’t very clear on the time so one couple weren’t there when we were ready to leave. I had seen them near the shops around 15 mins before leaving time then they disappeared. Clarke went looking for them but couldn’t find them. Just as he was calling in to his head office to ask for permission to leave without them they were spotted heading for the bus. Most of us were very relieved to see them but there were a few nasty people on the bus letting them know we may have to miss a photo stop on the way due to them.
Our first stop on the way to our main destination for the day of Milford Sound was Mirror Lakes. They have built a boardwalk so you can easily walk over part of the lake to see the reflections a lot better. We were the only ones there so it was very peaceful. We could hear birds and see eels in the water. We were able to spend some time there just enjoying the peace and quiet, despite there being around 50 of us from our tour.
The following photos were taken as we were leaving Queenstown.