We arrived in Te Anau shortly before 1 pm and checked into the Lake View Lodge. I had booked a double room there for one night. We walked into town and got some supplies and packed our stuff for the overnight kayak trip in Doubtful Sound. After some quick instant noddles we walked to the Control Gates of the Keppler Track. It had been a bit further than it looked on the map but was still under one hour to get there. We did the Dock Bay Trail which is only 1 hour return.
The bay is beautiful and we set there for a while before returning.
Back to the hostel we cooked and had dinner and watched a movie in our room. Got pretty late and we had to get up at 6 am the next morning in order to make it to Pearl Harbor in Manapouri in time. After signing the waiver we got on a boat for one hour and after on a bus for 40 minutes until we reached the backpacker which was also the start point of our kayak tour. We didn´t see very much during the boat and the bus ride since it was very foggy and rainy. There were two English girls (Ellie and Alix) in our group who both live in New Zealand and work for Go Orange – the company we booked this tour with. Our guide was named Joe. We got our gear including clothes, prepared and packed the kayaks and off we went for our two day tour. You had to bring your own food and sleeping bag, anything else was provided. The first two to three hours it was rather cold and raining, but then it stopped and the sun came out.
For the rest of our paddling adventure we had beautiful weather. We were really lucky since the forecast had shown a completely different picture and it usually rains a lot in the sound. On the first day we paddled about 16 km with only one pee and snack stop.
At about 4 pm we reached camp. As soon as we got on land we were attacked by swarms of sandflies. They are really nasty little beasts! Pitching up the tents while fighting them off was a task. According to a Maori story the sandflies were put there to keep this area pristine and free of humans. Seems to work, I like this story! Nobody is living in the sounds and the water of the rivers and waterfalls is so clean that you can drink it directly without filtering or boiling. We were sitting on the beach in the sun for a while before we all got into the insect shelter. Cooking dinner was a bit experimental since Joe had forgotten to pack cutlery, cups, plates and bowls. We had gas and pots though. After dinner we played Uno and went to bed.
At 5:30 the night was over. Joe woke us; we had breakfast, packed up and were back on the water before the sandflies got too bad. It was still beautiful weather, almost got a bit too hot. I just loved paddling around in this amazing landscape. It is so peaceful there, beautiful and not so crowded as in Milford Sound since it is a lot harder to get to.
Around noon we returned to the backpacker, cleaned the kayaks, changed and returned the gear. Then we had the possibility to cook lunch while waiting for the bus. This time we had some beautiful views on the way back to Pearl Harbor.
Once we returned to Te Anau after the boat, bus and car ride we returned to the Lake View Lodge were we had reserved a spot for my tent. We pitched it up and had a shower. Tom had a long nap again while I secured pictures and organized some things. In the evening we walked into town to have dinner at The Range. There was also a jam night (like every Thursday), but they started very late, so we didn´t hear too much before returning to camp. We played pool while waiting for the band to start though. On our last day in Te Anau we first got some new supplies and then took off to do another part of the Keppler Track. We walked from Rainbow Beach to Shallow Bay and back, it was only about 3 hours.
I dropped Tom at the Lodge and went into town to say hi to Ellie in the Go Orange Office. I got a 10% voucher for the Fiordland Cinema from her and went there to watch “Ata Whenua – Shadowland”. This is a 30 minutes movie about the beautiful landscape in the fjord lands. It is pretty famous and they also sell it on DVD for about $40. It was a beautiful movie I can only recommend. They show it during the day every full hour and with the voucher it was only $9. Back to camp I charged my electronics and got some stuff done. Tom invited me for a pizza in the evening since he was too lazy to help cooking. The next morning we packed up and left Te Anau at 8:30 to explore the Milford Sound.