So, there appears to be a downside to ocean view living! The wind! The crazy, crazy wind! I woke up in the early hours of the morning to Wendekreisen gently rocking in the wind and wind howling! I don't know why, it was probably at least slightly sleep induced, but I was convinced that one big strong wind will push us over. I thought about all those motorhomes back behind us and wondered if their spot was less windy and if they were smarter than us for not taking the spot with the best beach view! I looked out the window and saw the cows in a nearby farm munching away at grass, more or less unaware. Still, I woke up my hubby and asked him whether he thought we were going to blow away. He of course told me I am crazy and went back to sleep. Thankfully, I was tired enough that sleep won over my illogical fear of tipping over, and after I envisioned the possible exit routes we would have to take, I fell back asleep.
We obviously didn't tip over. Wendekreisen is a very heavy vehicle, and hello, we were not in a tornado! Once we all woke up, two new drivers tried their hand at driving Wendekreisen (while it was turned off of course), but since neither could reach the pedals they did not qualify to provide assistance. :)
We hit the road and continued our journey out of the Southland and towards Fiordland. The further we got from the south the better the weather got. The landscapes in the South Island are really beautiful.
When we saw Lake Manapouri from a distance we knew we had to stop. The lake has the same clear and clean water, this time with snow capped mountains in the background! There were only 2 other people around so we had the lake shore to ourselves for a while and had fun taking a few pictures.
We reached Te Anau around lunch time, and since we had phone and data service again we did a quick search to find out where we should eat. We ended up picking Miles Better Pies, which has assorted kinds of meat pies (very popular in NZ) as well as sandwiches. They also had outlets inside the shop and allowed us to charge all our electronics. The food was overpriced, like everything in this country, but it was also definitely delicious.
After eating and charging, we headed over to the lake for a nice stroll. Lake Te Anau is the largest glacial lake in Fiordland. The water is clear and blue and I suspect when it eventually gets warm, whenever that is, people can actually swim in there. We just had fun racing down the path and practicing how to skip rocks.
On our way back, we went to an awesome playground, and the kids had so much fun they didn't want to leave! They really have a lot of great playgrounds in New Zealand. We also saw a lot of little kids playing there and speaking English! After so many months in foreign language speaking countries, Kian was happy to be able to communicate with the kids his age.
Before leaving Te Anau, we went to the town's public dump station and took care Wendekreisen's business and filled up our water tank. All set for our 3rd night of free camping.
Henry Creek Campground
For the night, we camped at a site called Henry Creek, which is actually not totally free. It is a DOC (Department of Conservation) site, which has no facilities except for a public toilet, and it costs $6 per adult and $3 per child under 5. You are meant to fill out a form when you arrive at the site and put the money in an envelop. Then you tear off a section of the envelop and display it on the dashboard for the rangers that come around at some point during the early mornings.
We were ready to pay our dues, but when we arrived and checked the box where the forms were supposed to be, we just found a rock! We put the money aside in case a ranger showed up, but none did! So, another night of free camping!
Unlike yesterday, when our camp site was the perfect spot for Kian, today the site was a dream for Hannah. As soon as we parked Wendekreisen, she asked to go down the path to the lake (a 20 second walk) to play.
While Hannah and Daddy were out by the lake playing, Kian stayed inside with me as I cooked dinner, and worked on a special card for Elmer's house in the North Pole. He later helped Hannah make a small card too. They both told Elmer to take his artwork back to the North Pole on his way out the door tonight.
After Kian finished his drawing, he ran out to join Hannah and Daddy. Kian and Hannah had a blast playing with their swords and shields that we bought in Barcelona. :)
After dinner, we all took a walk back down to the lake to watch the sunset. So beautiful and peaceful!
Tomorrow, we are heading to Milford Sound, which is about a 2 hour drive from Te Anau, and we have to be there in time for our 11 am cruise.
Elmer the Elf Update
Remember we watched Elf last night? Well we think that gave Elmer some ideas. We woke up to find our silly elf eating some cookies and honey! Elves sure love their sweets.