Tuesday, January 17, 2012

December 11th: Arrowtown, Milford Sound, and a Quick Trip to Wanaka

Despite flying through Milford Sound the day before, Mark and I really wanted to take one of the two hour cruises through they offered. Rather than drive five hours each way, we spent the extra money and flew there instead! It's not often you get to charter your own C172. :) We met our pilot in the terminal at Queenstown Airport, walked out to our plane, and were off the ground before we knew it.

A winding road that leads north to Wanaka. Some of their speed limit signs are 15km/hr and they're not kidding!

Our pilot, Teri, was great and took the time to point out some of the local landmarks. Turns out she'd heard me on the radio the day before and was wondering who the foreign pilot was!

Just like the day before, the scenery was fantastic.

Final for Runway 11 at Milford Sound. Definitely one of the most scenic airports I've been to!

We hopped on a bus and took a quick ride over to the dock. We picked up our boarding passes, and after a short walk to kill some time, hopped on our boat for the tour.

Hello, Milford Sound!

Even with the lack of recent rain, there were still a few waterfalls. Our captain nosed the boat right up to them; all those people in the front of the boat got soaked. :)

We eventually made our way out to the Tasman Sea to turn around.

There were seals all over this rock. Some of them were swimming around in the water, too.

After ducking into Harrison's Cove to drop a few people off...

...we made our way back out into the sound and back to the dock. Our pilot was waiting to pick us up when we arrived, so we hopped right back on the bus and went right back to our plane.

We were back in the air so fast!

Goodbye, Milford Sound!

We stayed fairly low on the flight back to avoid some clouds and turbulence. This is certainly different scenery than I have back home in VA!

A mere 0.6 later we were back at Queenstown. Much better than a 5 hour drive! After thanking our pilot for such a nice flight, Mark and I headed back to Arrowtown. We grabbed some crepes for lunch at one of the restaurants, did some laundry, and repacked our stuff. Since we'd had dinner in Arrowtown the past two nights, we decided it was time for a change of scenery.

Remember that winding road we flew over earlier? Here it is!

Hello, Wanaka!We wandered around by the lake for a little while; this dog was having a blast chasing the seagulls.

Mark was really jealous of the cool playgrounds we kept finding. They were full of fun things that would make you sick, fling you several yards through the air and into the dirt, and were generally ridiculously fun and vaguely unsafe. Darn us and our litigious society!

We drove through a random neighborhood and found a nearly abandoned beach.

After wandering around the beach and a nearby road we grabbed some dinner at a snooty restaurant. The food was great but the servers were ridiculously condescending; I had planned to order dessert and a second glass of wine, but since we dared to stop by without making a reservation first (despite the fact that the restaurant was practically empty), we weren't even offered a dessert menu, let alone any real hospitality. We decided to find our own dessert and headed back to Arrowtown. Their loss!

We managed to find some ice cream cones in the grocery store in Arrowtown and ate them while we walked along the main road, then headed back to the hostel to grab some sleep. We had to get up early the next day; as much as I would have liked to stay longer, it was time to head back to Auckland and get ready to head home to the US.

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