Te Anau ❤️
Apologies for taking so long to update you from my new home in Southland but the fact of the matter is, it’s so bloody cold I’ve only just gained enough circulation in my fingers to be able to type. My Dad laughed when I told him I had accepted a job in possibly one of the coldest places in New Zealand. “You know that part of the world is like Scotland Helen Felicity “ I laughed. Scotland is possibly the last place I’d like to visit in winter but it doesn’t get that bad in New Zealand Dad. I’ve been chasing the sun for two and a half years rarely seeing a day below 25c and I know it’s winter in New Zealand but it most certainly won’t be as cold as Scotland. Was he right? No. It’s more like the Antarctic than Scotland. It’s set to dip to -8c tonight and I’ve spent the best half of my day off tucked up on top of my electric blanket.
The habit of moaning talking about the weather is in my genes. It’s what us Brits do. I’m not letting it get the better of me though, I’m taking every possible opportunity to get out there and explore. There’s nothing worse than being cooped up in a house built for an Inuit, one where my every breath resembles a dragon’s smokey roar.
Luckily for me I found Steph who, like me, is new to the area and doesn’t know a single soul. She’s from Scotland and has been WWOOFing at the local pub for a month or two now. We both agreed that our first Arctic expedition would be to Te Anau, just under an hours drive from our hometown of Lumsden. Te Anau is on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau in Fiordland. It is the largest lake in the South Island and the second largest lake in New Zealand. On first inspection, Steph and I set ourselves the task of walking around it. “What do you think, two, three hours max?” “Yeah righto, we’ll be back in time for lunch”.
After an hour of walking and turning a fair few corners which revealed more of the lake, I came to the realisation that in no way was this possible. This is one hell of a lake. Not that we gave up mind, we kept walking until we reached a point where the water flowed out from inland which made it impossible to cross by foot. That’s our excuse anyway.
The walk was pretty spectacular with the horizon mimicking the postcards. It was bitterly cold so I grabbed a comforting hazelnut latte from Sandfly Cafe which I had seen online when I was researching the area. Unfortunately many of the shops and eateries in town were closed for winter and the place lacked any noticeable signs of life. However the number of places to eat, drink and stay albeit close, made it evident that come Spring, this place is “happening”. Our walk from town, north along the eastern side of the lake followed signs about each planet in our solar system. I’m not quite sure what the relation between this information about space and the lake is, but it provided a good talking point and a goal of seeing whether we could make it to the furthest sign and furthest planet from the sun, Pluto. We may not have made it around Lake Te Anau but we made it to Pluto.
We took the less scenic route back to town along the highway. I say this term loosely, a highway here by no means resembles the M25. Passing a number of attractive houses, I came across a rather dashing young horse who came over to us to say hi. It was one magnificent beast and I fed it some grass because I am nice like that.
Back in town we stopped off for lunch at Sandfly Cafe where we had previously got our coffees. I like the quirky interior of the place with lights made from wooden skis and kayaks and old sewing machines and kitchen scales used as decoration. The cakes on display looked pretty fantastic too and I couldn’t resist grabbing a raspberry and white chocolate muffin for myself.
Still without a vehicle, I asked Steph if we could quickly pop into the supermarket on our way home. Poor Steph, she spent the next hour pushing my trolley while I Umm’d and Ahh’d about what to buy. She also persuaded me to put the crate of beer back as it was not a necessity and to wait until I got paid. Even now she hasn’t heard the end of it. Never listen a Scot, especially one that says no to beer!
The stunning drive back to Lumsden saw glorious views of snow-capped mountains and rolling fields covered with deer and sheep. As impressive as Te Anau is, just driving through Southland reveals picture perfect views. It’s moments like this, when the sun is shining and my jaw drops at every bend that I can just about put the cold aside and appreciate how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful part of the world.