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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Saturday, 28 January 2023

Homer tunnel didn't disappoint.

 January 27th

We played Quiddler last night. Found the game at Puzzleworld and I blame Marilyn and David completely for getting us hooked onto the game. Ian won the first two, I have yet to beat him but my time will come, it's early days after all.

Fantastic DOC camp, so quiet and only a young French lass in a sleeper car and a chap in a tent joined us. Not too many sandflies either and if one did try to get its fangs into us, one sniff at that anti sandfly stuff liberally applied to all exposed parts, and it fled.This morning we woke to rain, so badly needed elsewhere, seems Milford Sound gets more than their fair share. It tipped it down for most of the journey, made driving a bit difficult for Ian but oh the amount of water cascading down off the mountains was a sight to behold. 


The 2020 floods damaged sections of road by the rivers and driving past we could see the amount of work that went into reinstalling the road. Must have taken months of solid graft to get that one road into Milford Sound functional again.

But roadworks were still present. It was fibre optic cable from Te Anau to Milford Sound being installed. It's to do with the internet speed and the fact the whole of Milford area from just outside Te Anau to Milford Sound was a Wi-Fi black spot. I overheard it mentioned at the i site that it was needed for quicker alerts to the emergency services in case of trouble.


Amazing what machiner can be used these days. No road had to be dug up as such. A machine with a big blade cut out a groove large enough for the cable. This photo taken on our return after the weather had improved dramatically.


Anyway and going off track somewhat, we tried to get on the limited Wi-Fi at the café in Milford, Oh they have repeaters along the route but none was for public use. We were told at Te Anau from the lady at the i site that only two areas were able to receive a signal. One was Knobs Flat and the other at Milford itself. Well we had to book a DOC site. Apparently paying cash on arrival is going to be phased out and only online bookings will be permitted. A fine would be issued if found to camp without payment. But...and here lies the problem which has not been properly thought out. If you can't get online on arrival then how on earth do you pay! Anyway we were denied internet use at Milford and our Sparks Wi-Fi didn't work at Knobs Flat. So the only method of payment was cash in an envelope popped through a steel letter box. On our return to Te Anau we will mention the problems to the lady. She needs to be aware of the situation before telling everyone they can book an online site on arrival.

Homer Tunnel came into view. A wait of about 5 minutes before the green light appeared. No Keas to be seen but there again, if we don't like venturing out in the rain, why should they!

On arrival at Milford not a car parking spot to be found. Well actually that's not quite true because one place had spaces, so we pulled in and went to pay. So for anyone going to Milford Sound beware. There is no fee displayed just a key pad with a card reader attached. Put in your vehicle registration, and you are prompted to tap the screen with your card. Ian was just about to do just that when in very small letters he saw 25 dollars for 5 hours! No other alternative. What??? That's outrageous. What if you only want to stay an hour. For those going on the cruises that's another 25 dollars added to the tours. Thankfully Ian stopped before he tapped the card. So we were resigned to turn around and go back but another car park was available and free. It's a fair way out, a good 20-minute walk to the café and a further 10-minute walk to the terminal where those cruises depart from. And another beware here. That walk was through bush had more sandflies seen today then anywhere we have been to so far. They buzzed around every part, especially the head and the eyes were particularly attractive as targets. Thankfully we had sprayed before leaving the Toy but the Chinese tourists also doing that walk were having a very bad time of it.


Looks most insignificant but its bite from the female is really painful and itches for days!

We had lunch at the café, burgers and coffee, a bit pricey at $55 but there again any tourists attractions, be it here in New Zealand or Worldwide, put prices up during school holidays. 


Anyway after a walk we once again headed off toward Homer tunnel. This time no waiting time was displayed, just a vehicles exiting tunnel sign. Suddenly from behind we heard a commotion. This lady was yelling and waving a broom about and all because a Kea was sat destroying something on the roof of her motorhome. Well I shot out with the camera, bugger the traffic lights, if the vehicles started moving Ian would have to come back for me. I did laugh, the lady sort of saw the funny side and when it flew to a nearby Britz hire motorhome she too grabbed her camera for photos. I love these birds. They are so inquisitive and very comical. This one was being mischievous and a youngster I think, because there was more brown on the plumage than green. I took lots of photos so made most into a collage.

The sun had put in an appearance and boy it sure was hot. By now we were looking for a DOC We chose Cascade Creek but on route was Christie Falls. It is right on the roadside and one of the areas that had severe structural road damage in 2020. 


Lovely hot afternoon and very welcome after all the morning rain.

New structure in place.

Cascade Creek was the perfect place. Much bigger than the normal DOC sites, it had loads of toilets (long drops) as well as washing pot facilities. We choose a spot right by the river, loved the sound of bubbling water, reminded us of being back on the canals by a lock. Beer came out and another 2 games of Quiddler played. I won both so the score is even at the moment.

And seen at the free car park

And some better views now that the weather had improved.

Cascade Creek

And wildlife


Anonymous said...

Absolutely fabulous Irene, with the abundance of beautiful waterfalls in the vast landscape.
At last you found a Kea, they have a mischevios look about them.
We have many flocks of Green Parakeets in London and as far south as Croydon....and they are very noisey! Probably smaller than the Kea though.
Thankyou for this lovely blog,
Ann Makemson xx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Fabulous that you saw a kea!

Prices are high in remote places - transport in for goods is pretty steep! Fear notr though - we had lunch in a cafe here in Waikanae at it was over $50 for the two of us, so your burgers were a pretty good price, I reckon!

Glad the scores are even in Quiddler and I take no responsibilioty for your addiction...


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