Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Day 29: Glenorchy, or the Hobbit habitue
Day 29: Glenorchy
Pics: So, can you identify the first three? A group from the Dart River trip, then two of what you see as you approach Blanket Bay Lodge, BB Lodge from the back (and the boat at the jetty) and the last picture is our room, the one on the top with the curtains pulled to shield us from the hot afternoon sun, Note: there aren’t pics from the water because while we were on the river the camera was deeply tucked into the dry bag, alas.
Breakfast alert: BB Lodge has moved to the top in two categories: best muffins in NZ and the best “Spanish omelette” anywhere! DB sticks with cereal and berries and yoghurt. THB goes to heaven…the omelette is a cross between a torta and a soufflé, with potato, ham and cheese, prepared and served at the peak of fluffiness and density (if that makes sense); it must have been in the oven for a bit for the final stage of cooking. What will THB do tomorrow, because they have pancakes with berries and yoghurt on the menu and there are going to be muffins and other pastries; THB sees a diet in his future (just not his immediate future).
Today is an all-day trip up the Dart River. We leave a bit after 10am after an hour of identifying and putting on several layers of water protection (and heat retaining) clothes. It is cold out, a bit too cold for THB’s ears, about the only thing not covered up. The first 35kms up the river is in a jet boat, complete with a number of 360 wheelies. Fortunately it is not too much bouncing up and down, so no wear and tear on our backs.
After the boat drops us off, we take a walk through the nearby forest, even more hobbit territory than the Routeburn hike of the day before. It is warming up (here that means the sun actually came out), and we are hiking in full boat uniforms. Makes for quite a sight (see pics) as the centipede winds its way through the trees.
After our stroll, we hit the river (now moving downstream) in a sturdy inflatable canoe (for you old time rafters, not near as interesting as using a rubber ducky) called a funyak, and after a few moments of poor teamwork, THB and DB realize that almost no paddling or steering are required, the river is very tame and moving just enough to make progress with no effort at all. And that’s just the speed we’re going. We’re in a group with two other pairs from Brisbane and a guide and the extra person in our little team (a helicopter pilot from the Arctic, this must really be boring for him: he sits in the front and barely takes the paddle off his lap).
Now the sun is out AND the clouds have cleared, and the vistas back up the mountains are reaching the off-the-chart spectacular scenery category (the river is a zero rapids category). We see 5 or 6 glaciers…even more amazing, we see the tops of the mountains!
A gentle float for maybe an hour, then a long (too long) lunch break (included) of make-it-yourself sandwiches and drinks and various cookies, cakes, and fruit. Most of the time is spent either trekking to a far off toilet (DB) or watching 7-12 year old boys skip and throw an endless number of rocks in and at the river.
Back to the river, finish up the float, help clean the funyaks, take a bus back to the starting point, disrobe, and we’re only 2kms from BB Lodge. Total: $235/person
Pre-dinner drinks, comparing notes with the groups that took helicopter rides up and over various mountains, including landing on glaciers and even having lunch on one (or was it just the top of the mountain). They picked the right day: their views must have been even more spectacular than ours….and more expensive!
Dinner is even better than last night: Thai carrot soup with crispy coconut, perfect mixed leaf salads, cold duck breast starters, fish for DB, NZ beef for THB, and this time DB has the mint chocolate chip and peanut butter ice cream scoops and THB has a dense chocolate terrine with subtle sorbet and an espresso. Three glasses of wine…and, we eat dinner outside, one of only two tables so blessed. At the other are Tom and Pauline and their son and daughter-in-law.