Am safe back in Te Anau, working, and headed back to Queenstown tomorrow for more working (gotta choose those work-day destinations by estimated signal strength).

My sojourn to the end of the country was great. I was dumbstruck with the enormity and palpable dignity of these places.

I saw a teensy snow avalanche whose thundering reverberated throughout the valley I was in — noise with mass.

I saw a hawk chasing a bunny across a vast field, one third of little furry ears visibly bouncing above the gold, waving grass as he fled (took me some time to figure out what the heck I was looking at, in fact); hawk skimming just a foot above for yards and yards and yards.

I watched (and along with the other tourists, took small, grey-speck-in-the-distance photos of) seals, wriggling and waving fins and lazing plumply on warm rock platforms.

I marveled at how the place was so inhospitable to humans. Not a hostile place, mind you – it didn’t feel hostile at all.   It’s just that —- it was just rock.   Towering vertical rock, the size of multiple Empire State Buildings atop each other making ONE mountain (and that’s just the visible bit, not the similar height submerged in the water) with no safe flat spots or beaches or caves to shelter and beckon hairless apes to set up shop.

The whole experience was SOOPER cool.

I even emerged relatively unscathed by the viperous little sandflies through the excessive slathering of DEET, lots of swatting, and tearing at a rapid pace through parking lots to the relative safety of buildings. They are a plague. Am reveling in being able to actually have my van windows open as I sit here typing this – the fresh air!  The slight breeze!  It’s heavenly.

Here’s a little preview of the Milford Sound cruise photos:

Milford Sound

Otherwordly looking, huh?  Like I’m standing in front of a stage set.

The weather’s been kick-assedly great – VERY lucky. Milford is the 2nd rainiest place in a rainy country, but the sun was shining and the air warm.  Funny how I was freezing to death in Auckland but have repeatedly broken out the shorts in the very place I bought my Polarfleece jacket for…

Tomorrow, off to Queenstown again – should have good signal for working, and is en route to my next tour destination (vs. work pit stop destination): ultra-scenic Glenorchy. Then I’ll head south toward Invercargill and up along the eastern coast, because I have read that the sealife is great there (penguins! more seals!) and if I miss them at the lower coastal spots, I’ll have a second chance to see them farther up.