Sunday, June 01, 2008 Comes Through (Twice)

I've had the occasional grumble about and their inability to stick to timetable, but I have had two trips recently, each for a mere $1, which have redeemed them in my eyes. The more recent of the two was when I was in Wellington for a few days to see the Mountain Goats. As it happened, the band was a no-show, so I wanted to do something just a little out of the ordinary (in between my trips to the various libraries I was working in, delicious French, Italian and Malaysian food and, of course, visits to numerous cafes). And so I found myself doing a guided tour of Wellington - I don't think they took me anywhere I hadn't been (the first part actually went past the door of the apartment I was staying in and circled the environs for a while) but it was nice to be taken to the Botanical Gardens, around the south coast and up to the lookout. All for $1 (nakedbus works by contracting with various operators to carry its passengers, and they always sell the first seat (at least) for $1).

But my real coup was at the end of January, something I had scored for myself late last year. There was a question on the thorntree about whether the nakedbus trip to Milford Sound was any good: I didn't even know they had such a trip. Nor did many other people, it seems, because I was able to get myself a bus trip from Queenstown to Milford, a 2.5 hour cruise on the Milford Sound and then back to Queenstown - all for $1!

I decided to make a weekend of it, and hired some sort of semi-monstrous Ford SUV to take me. My first night I only got as far as Owaka (maybe 100 km from home) where I stayed in the newly opened YHA - the former Owaka Hospital, which still had quite a bit of its equipment in one of the wings. It is a big hostel, and only had half a dozen guests so I had the dorm to myself. I had a very pleasant meal in the Gumdiggers Cafe in town and then, just before the light faded, drove out to the beach (I had no idea it was only about 5 km away). Most spectacular was Surat Bay. I'm not sure why, but I took no photos, but here's an amazing shot google images conjured up, by a fellow called Chris Garden:
There's a hostel right at Surat Bay - one day I expect I'll go stay there.

I had an early start on the Sunday, a pick up at something like 7:00! The tour included full commentary and stops at various points of interest along the way, such as:
I have been to Milford before, but I was driving, so pretty much all my energy was taken up navigating - there was certainly very little chance of getting a photo along the way, as the road offers few stopping places. Going through on the bus meant I could take plenty:Through some oversight, I failed to take a photo of the particular boat we went on. All I can say it was not like this one, not even from the same company ours was rather smaller. The crew was nice - I spent quite some time talking with - it turns out her home town is the place I was visiting in my next trip after Milford. As for the Sound,I didn't see any whales or dolphins although they do show up every so often. I did see what looked like large brown slugs in the distancehaving a peaceful day, not at all perturbed by the gaping tourists at their shouldersand a waterfallIt was a nice day out, not quite as spectacular as all the hype had led me to expect, but it would be nice to take one of the overnight cruises here at some stage.



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