We left Queenstown and briefly stopped in Arrowtown. Arrowtown was a holdover from the gold mining days of New Zealand. Similar to such places in the US, there is a little museum collection of the sights and sounds of yesteryear. Among its treasures were a lavatory sign that led to a dummy sitting down on the toilet with a voice activated, “Hey! I’m busy here!” when you open the door.
There were vertebrae and sketches of the now extinct Moa, showing how huge it was in relation to a human. If that makes you marvel, imagine what the now-extinct Haast Eagle was, as the only predator that could take down the Moa (other than man). It was big enough to swoop down and scoop one up in its talons. Yikes. But when the Maori hunted the Moa into extinction, the Haast Eagle soon followed.
There was even a miniature model of the TSS Earnslaw that we had ridden on the night before.
The rest of the day involved driving to Te Anau. The next day we awoke to a dreary, rainy day; and despite warnings that the road leading to Milford Sound was closed (the driver explained that there were frequent landslides on that road) we made the 2 hour drive to the Sound. While the road did end up being open, the rain never paused, and our ferry tour of Milford Sound was cold, with little visibility. There were lots of waterfalls to be seen, behind the sheets of rain.
We returned to Te Anau, where some went off to see a scenic movie of the area, and a few of us went to find the rare Takahe. While these were in a preserve, I did manage to see one in the wild a few days later, hanging out with some cows on the coast.
The long days of driving were starting to wear on everyone. I don’t know how those who had already toured the Northern Island were doing it. It’s amazing how exhausting just sitting all day can be. Many of us took naps on the bus, once we were satisfied that we had captured all the pictures the scenery would provide. I think the gloominess of the day didn’t help. The enthusiasm that we would carry through equally long days of sunshine seemed a much better match to fight the fatigue of the daily grind on the bus. Although in the vein of “The worst day fishing is better than the best day ______”; I was still happier to be there than having my nose to the grindstone back home.