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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

10 March 2011

Typical Fiordland weather

10th March 2011

The guide on our boat tour of Doubtful Sound said that so many times it began to sound like an apology despite his enthusiasm. “You’re seeing the Sound in absolutely typical Fiordland* weather, sunshine is really very unusual here.” He was certainly right, it was thick cloud all day and often raining, visibility usually less than half a kilometre. The odd thing is that the brochure for Doubtful Sound cruises shows a boat ploughing along the fjord in dazzling sunshine. I’ve no idea why they chose such atypical and unnatural weather conditions for their brochure photo.

I should remove my tongue from my cheek now.

I do like the name of the fjord though. Apparently Captain Cook was doubtful about being able to sail safely down it, and the moniker stuck. Anyway, the cruise was very good despite the weather, with the moody crags rearing out of the water up into the vapours on either side of us. Wildlife included a great colony of New Zealand fur seals goofing about on a big rock at the sea entrance of the fjord, and a pair of Fiordland crested penguins swimming in the water. Amazingly tiny specks in the enormous fjord, they looked lost and were squawking plaintively to each other. As a bonus before the cruise we got to visit the Manapouri hydroelectric power station. This lies more than 200 metres underground, the 2 kilometre access tunnel big enough for the tour coach we were on. Very good stuff.

Our meal this evening was a bit crap. We chose an Italian place that our holiday cottage owner sort of recommended. The waiter was the most hilarious fake-Italian ever, donning a thick-a Italian-a accent-a and peppering everything he said with loud ejaculations of “molto bene” and “prego”. This would have been funny, except that the food was about as Italian as he was. The antipasto was an outlandish mixture of salami, brie, melon, red pepper, smoked salmon and ham. Yes, brie. Molto bene indeed.

* New Zealanders call the area Fiordland, although presumably the entry for “a huge long inlet carved originally by glaciers” is still fjord in their dictionaries.

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