On the road to Te Anau

We drove from Invercargill to Te Anau today and what a fabulous route it turned out to be. We shunned the easier Route 1, preferring instead to follow the more scenic Route 99.
During the three hour drive, we meandered through forests, mountains, lakes, beaches and even hit upon an Alpaca ranch.

It’s hard to capture the beauty of the place, even with good pictures, but here is a glimpse of some of the sites we have seen.
The Monkey Island bay is as beautiful as it looks.

We drove through the mountain passes, and it was a moody vista with the thick cloud bank and layer upon layer of mountains. Even to our eyes, it looked like you were watching a 3D film without the glasses on.

Close to Te Anau, we happened upon the WildWool Gallery, where we spoke to the owner, a wonderful woman called Jessie Haanen, who was both informative and passionate about her Alpaca’s. They are becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand for their wool (not for eating) and it is becoming another premium product alongside Merino wool. Most of the animals here were bred and reared by Jessie and her husband. Jessie also makes some fine products from their wool, including silk felted scarves, wool scarves, gloves, hats and many other clothing items. Well worth a visit.

In the evening we visited the Bird Sanctuary of Te Anau, where many endangered and rare endemic birds are looked after. It’s difficult to catch these birds when they are in aviaries, but here is the selection we managed to see.

Many of these birds are under threat due to habitat loss, human activities and predators introduced with the European settlers. The last one shown the Takahé is very rare, with only 300 birds surviving.

Being Vegan travellers has had its challenges. Many places still cater very much for mainstream and we have had to pick our way through menu’s, which given the high number of young and independent travellers is a bit of a surprise. We found the Potpourri Vegetarian café in Dunedin where we managed to get a hot breakfast ( a rare treat).This morning we tried the Tuatara Café  in Invercargill, which is a lovely place to hang out, but had limited hot savoury options for us, so no hot breakfast today. In Te Anau we stopped at Habit Foods, which offered a Tofu option which was quite tasty. We won’t starve, but we wish that finding food options didn’t feel like a chore.

Tomorrow we head to Milford Sound, so we’ll have much more to report soon. Little man was feeling a bit shy today, but perhaps he’ll make a show tomorrow.