After coffee I ran over and booked a couple of tours for the day then went grocery shopping. This time still felt fairly chaotic, just indiscriminately throwing things into my basket, but I eventually went back, got a cart, spread out all of the food I’d selected into it, sorted into meals, and found that I was actually fairly close. I needed a few less sauce packets and another box of bars and I’d be set. I also had an entire extra thing of pasta, but I decided to keep that for spare food as it works really nicely with some milk and a sauce packet. It feels really heavy, but it also includes breakfast for tomorrow before I leave and I’ll be eating a fair amount of it tomorrow, so it’ll lighten up quickly.
Afterward I went out on one of the trips I’d booked for the day, an afternoon tea cruise on old sailboat. I’d caught the sailing bug pretty thoroughly in Auckland and decided to see what they had on offer.
The boat was very cool. Lots of history. Nicely kept, etc. being out on the water was fun, and the little guided hike tour in the middle was also quite nice. Yes, I went hiking on my day off. From hiking.
They served afternoon tea and put up the sails, but honestly there wasn’t any real sailing going on. Maybe today wasn’t windy enough, but I also don’t feel like the sails were big enough to make much of a dent trying to move this beast around. Overall it was fun, but I would probably have passed on it in favor of something else had I known more.
One interesting thing I did learn is that the lake here is 450+ meters deep. The bottom is actually 200 meters below sea level! It’s also very clean and pure water. You could drink directly from the lake with no treatment or filtering. Very cool, as someone who drinks primarily wild sourced water at the moment!
Afterward I bumped into the guys I met a couple of huts back. They were also heading out in the morning and they convinced me to do the next section in 4 days instead of the 5 I’d been thinking, which is really more like 3 long days and then a mad dash to get to our shuttle pickup at 10am. Should be interesting. So I booked my shuttle from the trailhead to Queenstown. They also suggested I book my Queenstown accommodation as soon as possible, given how busy it is there right now. Oof. Even further committing me to a 4 day stretch. Welp, I did. There really isn’t much available now but I managed to get a private room near the center of town so, that’s at least sussed.
Then off to my final excursion for the day, a trip to the Te Anau glow worm caves. Earlier today I’d seen a nice catamaran with a bunch of people on it pull up next to us at the dock. Now I’d be riding on it.
A short trip with some commentary and we were out at the cave. Sadly, photography is not allowed inside. Makes sense. They don’t want people dropping phones in the underground river or firing flashes in the pitch black cave. And black it was. The early part of the cave we walked through was really cool. The water flowing through it having carved it out over the last 12,000 year’s after the weight of glaciers from above fractured the ground and forced water through. Then they put us on these little gondolas and took us deeper into the cave, which at this point was pitch black. Darker than I’ve seen in a very long time. And all these little green points of light like the tips of fiber optic tree lights in clumps around the ceiling. Super super cool.
After a solid few minutes of that, back to the roar of the water and the lights in the cave. We were all really quiet in the “sanctuary” part of the cave, and we were still quiet after coming back out. I’d love to lay on a pool float in that cave for a few hours or years. Really cool.
Then some more hiking, of all things and a short presentation with live commentary about the glow worms and what they are: maggots. Multiple times the joke was made “you wouldn’t come to a glow maggot cave”. They’re pretty fascinating creatures, but to be honest I liked the cave and the boat part way better than the actual worms. They were cool, but I was expecting the ceiling to be completely covered in them. Again. Not bad. I would do it again. But as far as expectations vs reality, the cave itself and the boat was way cooler.
So, back to the boat. From below, the cockpit looks like a super high tech command center. Combined with how maneuverable and powerful this thing was, it just felt awesome. I asked nice and they let me hop up and take a picture and I chatted with the skipper a bit. She was controlling the whole thing with what amounts to an Atari joystick in the arm rest of her enormous seat. Super cool.
After getting back to the dock we were treated with a pretty magnificent sunset and then, tired as I am, and wanting to get started in the morning with my walk, I snapped a photo and walked back to my hotel.
I was on both of those boats today!
Now I’m using this last opportunity for WiFi to finish uploading photos and one last email check, then I’m going to bed. No luck finding a ride out to the trail in the morning so I’m gonna walk out to the highway and throw out a thumb and a smile and hope for the best. 4 days from now I’ll be in Queenstown!