We are starting the last legs of our trip with a drive out to the remote part of South Is NZ, called Te Anau. We left Queenstown this am for the 2 hour drive and long the way saw.....ta-da.....more sheep. Another animal product very prevalent in this area is deer. Yes, here in NZ, venison is cash meat, raised and butchered and sold like beef. So here, when you drive by fields and fields red deer, they aren't Bambi...they are meat for sale. The fences are REALLY high. Of course we stopped for coffee in yet another new spot.
We got to Te Anau which is a cute little town on the shores of Lake Te Anua. This is also the jumping off place for a 2 hour drive to Milford Sound, which we will be leaving for tomorrow, early in the AM. We spent a short time in a preditor controlled habitat for rare native birds, and saw the wingless takahe, but we haven,t seen the kiwi yet. The other thing Te Anau is noted for are the glowworm caves. Of course, we did this, minus Nan, who elected to hang out in the tiny town. Her excitement for the day was finding Decafe fake cappuccinos, and gluten free pizza crust.
The rest of us boarded a very nice catamaran that took is to the caves. We were divided into small groups with tour guide and he led us through a long entry into a pitch dark cave. We could not use cameras at all, or make noise. The caves are at least 12,000 years old, but the limestone they burn through is over 35 million years old. The entrance to the cave is very low and we walked in a crouch, but it eventually opened up and after some climbing and more walking, we boarded a small boat and somehow ended up in a pitch dark "glowworm grotto", where the only light was from hundreds of glowworm pupa before they turned into larva. The hungrier a glowworm, the more brightly it grows. I know it seems a tad corny and weird, but it was really serene and beautiful and we all enjoyed it more than we thought we would. Plus, we learned a lot about caves in the area, and glowworms!