After pulse raising Queenstown, our next destination , Te Anau was a total contrast. A quiet, peaceful ,small town. We took a bus to Te Anau and were the only passengers on the bus. The driver directly dropped us off at our hotel at Te Anau.
The hotel had a beautiful ambience and was very cosy and homely.
The Beautiful Asure Amber Court Hotel where we stayed.
First let me tell you about this cute little town….Te Anau.
Te Anau in Maori language means Place of the swirling waters
Nestled on the edges of the picturesque Lake Te Anau is this pristine , quiet town of Te Anau. Lake Te Anau is the largest lake in the South Island and second largest in New Zealand. The Mt Luxmore and Murchison mountains form an awe inspiring backdrop to this beautiful lake.
The town on the edges of Lake Te Anau
Beautiful Lake Te Anau
Lake Te Anau from various angles
Te Anau is the gateway to Fjorland National Park. Though Fjorland can be reached from Queenstown also , Te Anau is closer and the drive less tiresome. Te Anau came into the lime light only after the opening up of the Homer tunnel on the 120 km alpine road to Milford Sound . It has since become a hub for those visiting Fjorland. It is also the hub for those doing tramping at the Kepler and Routeburn tracks which is a loop adventure activity along the tussock covered alpine vistas.
We decided to do a day trip to Milford Sound( Fjorland) from Te Anau. Since we were at Te Anau during the fall season, the fall colours added to the beauty of this place. Some pictures…
A typical street in Te Anau
A typical house in Te Anau
Some pictures from downtown Te Anau
A shop with the model of a takahe….an endemic bird of New Zealand
It is a variety of swamp hen indigenous to New Zealand. It was extensively hunted by Maori and was considered extinct. But was rediscovered in the late 1900s in the Murchison mountains close to Te Anau. It is now considered a threatened species.
There are many activities one can undertake at and from Te Anau. Some such activities:
Day tour of Milford Sound:
A two hour ride on Milford highway passing the Homer Tunnel and a cruise on the famous Milford Sound…the detail episode on this trip coming up soon!!
Fjorland from air:
A helicopter or float plane ride over the fjords and sounds of Fjorland National Park.
The Float plane used for Fjorland from air
Lake 2 Lake cycle trails
Cycling and biking trails along the banks of lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri
Lake Cruise on TeAnau and Manapouri lakes
A cruise along the lakes takes one through some exquisitely beautiful scenery
The Glow worm Caves
Across the Lake Te Anau lies a glow worm grotto which can be explored. We did this and I will be doing an episode on these caves soon
The Great Walks
The Kepler, Milford and Routeburn tracks offer a magnificent way to explore the unique eco system of Fjorland
Apart from these activities, Te Anau is a nice destination for a quiet break in the midst of a hectic sightseeing schedule too.
Digressing a little from Te Anau, I have mentioned a lot about the scenic beauty of New Zealand. It is time I told you about the beauty of it’s people….
I had mentioned that Kiwis are great hosts and that tourists are treated with warmth and affection in New Zealand…some instances
Athithi Devo Bhava!!!
I must tell you about a very interesting anecdote from Te Anau. Apart from the sheer surprise, it really points out the sincerity with which the Kiwis treat their tourists. We were strolling around Te Anau town one afternoon as our connecting bus was scheduled only in the evening. Suddenly I saw a bus parked on the street with my name written on it. I just could not believe my eyes!!. There was a contact number asking me to contact the person to schedule an early departure.
Imagine seeing your name on a bus in the middle of a small town somewhere in New Zealand!!!….I had to pinch myself to be sure I was not dreaming!!
When I called him, the driver said that he is free and since we are the only passengers in the bus, he will take us as per our convenience. Mind you, this is a government intercity bus booked online from India! To fulfill their commitment to the tourist, they were not only running the bus but adjusting to our requirements. This is really Athithi Devo Bhava(our guests are like God)….a famous Indian proverb! There were at least two instances where we were the only passengers in a luxury bus and the driver dropping us directly at our hotel.
Athithi Devo Bhava….Kiwi style!!!
The Intercity bus
When this driver dropped us at Queenstown, he called up a cab and put us in the cab to our hotel. All this without any request from our side.
At another place called Rotorua, which I will cover later, the receptionist at the hotel waved down a bus and helped us carry our luggage to the bus. Mind you, its a regular local bus. And the driver of this bus digressed from his regular route and took the adjacent street so that he could drop us at the correct bus station….with no complaints from our co passengers!
Many a time, local passengers ahead of us in queue would let us board a bus first .
When we expressed our surprise and appreciation of this kind of hospitality,the reply was
“You are our guests and it is our responsibility to get you safe to your destination”
This motto is followed by everyone…it is almost like a rule…that tourists should be assisted at all places.
I really wonder how this approach has been ingrained in all the people there. Definitely something worth emulating!
Well, this episode has shown you the beauty of the land and its people!
Next I will meet you at the Te Anau Glow worm grotto….with those beauties that spread light even in darkness….
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