In a sentence, we cruised around for the two days, not in a car, but on boats, relatively stable ones at that.
First day – Visit to the Glowworm caves
Firstly, what are glowworms? Essentially, they are small invertebrates that emit a faint light at their tail. The light is visible only in the dark. More info here.
A 5-min walk from Aden Motel, we reached the Real Journeys visitor centre in Te Anau and boarded a small cruise ship (if you compare to Star Cruises’ ships). Don’t worry. This cruise ship is relatively stable, as the lake is calm even during a downpour.
The cruise did not take long.
The first leg of the cave journey consists of walking on slippery rocks, ducking under low hanging rocks and walking on man-made steel walkways. We say amazing rock formations within the caves themselves and hearing the rush of rainwater finding its way out of the caves is mind awe-inspiring. You will walk till about the mid-point and the rest of the journey will be done in an unpowered 10-seater flat-floor boat, in complete darkness. Let me repeat: in complete darkness. So if you have a fear of the dark, this isn’t for you. More precautions here. During this second leg, keep your hands inside the boat and look up. Imagine seeing stars, but now they are up close.
After coming out of the caves, you will learn more about glowworms from a guide as well as a TV documentary. Home sweet home thereafter.
In my opinion, seeing the glowworms isn’t as exciting as navigating the narrow passageway within the caves.
Second day – Trip to Doubtful Sound
Getting to Doubtful Sound is an adventure in itself. With no direct road access, the only way you can to get to Doubtful Sound is by a cruise across Lake Manapouri and a coach trip over Wilmot Pass. (Source)
Exactly that, so if you wanna go for this, please set aside one whole day for this. We left around 9am, and came back only about 6+pm. The entire trip out to Doubtful Sound (all the way to the Tasman Sea) = Bus from Te Anau to the Real Journeys wharf -> Cruise across Lake Manapouri -> Comfortable coach trip over Wilmot pass -> Cruise out to Tasman Sea (Doubtful Sound area). That’s just the one-way journey. 🙂
For nature lovers, this is the bomb. You get to see many waterfalls (especially if it rains the day before), dolphins and seals, fauna, rivers, lakes, trees and a hydro-powered power station. Images as follow, with a short description under each one. I will try not to spoil your experience by revealing too much.
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