Fangorn Forest & Rainbow Ridge

Moving on, we headed south towards Milford Sound and stopped over night in Te Anau, the "gateway" to the Sound, i.e. the last place before the hour long drive up to Milford.  Te Anau is just what you’d expect from a Gateway (expensive gas and expensive caravan parks) however, like Milford, is situated in some stunning scenery in the south end of the Fiordlands National Park.

We started the day with (yet another) LOR filming site, the infamous "Fangorn Forest", home of those big Tree people thingys. The actual shoot location is now private land and some sort of Retreat centre for alcoholic dolphins or something so we were forced to settle for the forest on the other side of the road. As the movie shows, this is incredibly old forest and it was quite amazing how peaceful and quiet it felt.  We laid down a tarp and sat among a tapestry of think moss, mossy tree trunks, mossy fallen logs, and mossy moss. With sunlight filtering through the leaves it really felt like a white wizard would suddenly appear and a large  tree would step on us. Very relaxing.

Moving on, we headed back past Te Anau for a hike at Rainbow Ridge.. our first real sample of the also infamous Fiord Lands.  This was, by far, the most beautiful (we use that word a lot here we’ve noticed) forest hike I’ve ever been on. ["It was very, very beautiful, but I’ve been on better ones in the Pacific North West", Sarah] ["well, Nyah nyah nyah", Roger]. The forest itself was amazing, but the overall experience was what rocked me – the temperature was absolutely perfect, there was a constant light breeze for the full 4 hours, and most importantly there wasn’t a single mosquito, fly or nasty the entire time. It was an incredibly peaceful walk which we’d highly recommend to anyone in the area.  Follow the suspension bridge over the river, then turn left and walk for as long as you can (it’s a full days walk to the nearest hikers cabin). The hike was of course capped off with a couple of cold beers back at the camper.

Oh, in one of the photos you’ll see a weird stick man… we couldn’t tell if someone made him or if it was a natural combination of moss and sticks and our over active imaginations.  He was only about 7 inches tall, but looked like a sea monster with a walking stick! The mushroom photos were a combination of trying to be artful and thinking of Smurfs.

After the hike we began the drive up Hwy 94 towards Milford Sound, stopping 2/3s of the way up in another free and amazing camping spot beside Cascade Creek (the last photo). Sarah did her best Betty Crocker impression whipping up some great Indian camping nosh while I was out hunting and gathering.

While these photos don’t do it justice, take a look anyway!

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