The clouds rolled over the mountains like the fluffy white wool on the sheep's back just before the sun was to appear in the morning sky. From peak to peak the clouds traveled with some of them touching the lower levels as if they had fallen to see the beauty of the land. Again words can not describe the seamless dance Mother Nature was displaying with every kilometer traveled. The sheep were already scouring the sides of the mountains and walking on the self made terraces to keep from falling off the side. You could tell they had a full day ahead of grazing perhaps before the rain was due to set in. We came upon beef and dairy cows as well that were enjoying a morning graze. Our bus driver from time to time would explain some of the sites along the long and twisty road. It was interesting to learn of the massive lakes between Queenstown and Te Ano were carved years ago by the large glaciers. Some of the lakes were as deep as 400 meters below sea level.
We also learned about the quaint little towns along the way that were reflecting of the yester years when gold mining was big business in this part of New Zealand. Only the general store and maybe the town hotel were all that were left of most towns.
We arrived to our town to only be greeted by our personal hiking guide for the day Yoshi. She gathered the bus driver to take us along to catch the ferry to the end of the longest lake in the country stretching miles and miles long. Along the way we got to learn more about our guide and the driver who laughed and cut up to make the drive shorter. The door flew open on the bus, and to the waters edge we went for the boat across the bay to where civilization ceased to exist except those whom were tracking the trails of the forest. A team of two men boarded the boat with a green soccer ball like machine that had cameras every other patch of the ball. Before I could go ask, he said "I am sure you all are wondering so it is a Google Earth machine that I will strap to my back to log the trails." So check out Milford track in New Zealand we should be at the start of the Google Earth footage. Making our way across the pristine lake through the morning air gave us a sense of the remoteness as you could not see evidence of people anywhere in site from shore to shore. The mountains on each side greeted us with sites of bare tops with ninety degree drops and the trees holding on.
Our boat docked and off we went down the trail. Our immediate reaction was how every fern was positioned perfectly and every tree was sporting lush green moss. Yoshi pointed out the different types of trees, moss, birds, and other interesting things in the evenly shaded forest. One of our favorites was the puff ball mushroom. When you squeeze it this red makeup like dust would explode out into the air. We hiked along the trail in aw until we happened upon a cabin stationed for the hikers who dawn the trail and this one would be their first stop. We went inside and Yoshi had planed it perfect because our brunch was freshly waiting on us. After we walked around the 100 year old cabin and only imagined some of the stories and tall tales that had been told by the fire or down by the bank of the fridged river.
Boots back on we went to explore the massive mountains that dwarft us and the cabin that could sleep up to 50 hikers a night. The Google Earth guy passed us just as we started our journey, about 1.2k into the trail. We soon came across a swinging bridge that spanned the wide banks of the river and looked to come in handy during the snow melt as the river breached its banks. Further on the track we picked back up with the river and stood again in aw of the natural beauty around. We eventually came to what was referred to as the wet lands part of the trail where the canopy of the trees gave way to an open field where you could see that we were surrounded on all sides by glacier cut mountains. Our guide soon called us back as we ventured around just looking up. Ducking back into the forest trail, Yoshi pointed out more things along the way and at times we felt stalked by the small fantailed bird whom seemed to be infatuated with us. Circling back to the cabin we rested and off to the final hike. This hike was more off the beaten path and more cutting your own trail through the wilderness. Along this path we found a moss covered log that looked like a shaggy dog, tree roots that looked as if they should have been buried deep within the soil but unable to penetrate the hard rock of the mountain. However the roots were covered in a blanket of moss that was about three inches thick. Again yet another fantailed bird joined us flying from tree to tree as we went rock to rock along the trail. Popping out of the forest we found ourselves upon an old riverbed that was still trickling water from the melting snow caps from atop of the mountain. Jumping from bolder to bolder and playing around the bed, we had a quick sip of the fresh water to then head down the mountain to catch the boat back.
As we boarded the boat back to civilization, you can't help but to reflect on the mountains they were on the crystal clear water. Looking back at the pristine land we just left, you had a much greater appreciation for nature with all that make it beautiful. Landing at the dock, the bus was there to take us to town to fetch a venison pie that Yoshi spoke of all day. Bellies full we loaded the second bus toward Queenstown to catch some shut eye for the early morning to come.