We also enjoyed two other day walks along different sections of the Kepler Track in Fjordland and, each time, the forest was slightly different and offered new views with rivers that rushed past us in a flurry of strong currents, ripples and cold blue water. Te Anau had received exceptionally high rainfall during our visit and the rivers reflected the weather magnificently. One of our walks took us to the banks of Lake Manapouri and Nicholas got down on one knee and re-proposed to me. It was a beautiful moment as he shouted ‘look there’s a shark!’ and held my shark engagement ring between his fingers. We had sorely missed our engagement ring whilst it was being repaired and I am delighted it is back where it belongs on my finger.



We took our Wendekreisen Travel Ltd Shark Mobile ‘Jangles’ for an adventure on another day off and explored the area between Te Anau and Milford Sound with our new hitchhiker friend from Belgium; Tom. We met Tom just are we were leaving Te Anau and he has quite possibly the best beard I have seen in a long time. Tom is traveling New Zealand and sleeping in his one-man tent – a brave move in the New Zealand winter – and we gave him a lift to Milford. The short walks along the way made great stops during our journey and we followed the tourist buses that day as we got to know Tom and explored the beech woodlands. We saw the cheeky mountain parrots (Keas) that are known for enjoying a tasty picnic snack and they watched our picnic at lunchtime with keen eyes.



The road to Milford was steep and winding and I wondered if we would ever arrive without burning the brakes. I needn’t have worried though; Jangles did us proud, both down and uphill, and coped admirably! Milford Sound itself looked peaceful and remote when we arrived at sunset and we admired the waterfalls and views of Mitre Peak. Photographs don’t do it justice and the light was wonderful as the sun dropped behind the peaks. There were a lot of sandflies present so we didn’t hang around long though…Almond oil mixed with citronella, lavender and geranium essential oils make a great natural repellent but the sandflies took up residence in our camper quickly so we moved on.


We spent a VERY cold night camped at the base of the mountains at Gunn’s camp and I wondered if Tom would have survived in his tent; it was that bitterly cold all night. Thankfully he did and we spent the next day walking the start of the Routeburn Track and enjoyed beech forest, numerous waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and views from Key Summit before returning to Te Anau. Tom was doing the entire Routeburn Track and we bid him a fond farewell as he hiked off into the distance with his heavy pack and tent. It was a great adventure for us and we really enjoyed the chance to do some hiking together.



After more office work back at Te Anau (and bonding with the huge hostel cat Felix) it was time to say goodbye to Te Anau and I admit I was sad to leave such a friendly, cosy hostel. I would recommend staying there to anyone and hope to return in the future. It was time for us to go onwards for our final event in Invercargill with Forest and Bird Southland before exploring Queenstown, Wanaka and the notoriously wet and windy West Coast.