The road to hell is paved with good intentions, they say, but not, I think, the road to Milford. Despite our hopes, and our early start, before we were up + about, the roadside was positively swarming with rivals. True, not all of them were intending to hitch – some were going to catch the bus – but it was a bit of a dampener to the spirit all the same. A middle-aged expat Pom was very successful in annoying us, first by patronisingly telling us what was good + bad in politics, + then telling us where to hitch. I was very pleased to get a ride, as much to cock a snook at Mr Knowitall as for the obvious reasons. Our benefactors were Anne + Ken, a young couple from Georgia, USA, but now working in Alice Springs, + spending a fortnight holiday motoring around NZ. They were pleasant, with quite a good sense of humour – too often I feel the culture gap between our American cousins + ourselves to be too great to bridge.
We all went out on the same cruise, which was a good trip – just a small boat, but only about a dozen of us on board, + with free coffee. I had no complaints. The coffee was needed – it was bloody cold out there. Pretty tho’. The pilot was good – not only did he give us an informed + interesting commentary, but was skilled enough to take the boat to within an inch of the cliff face.
The cruise over, we drove back to Te Anau. This was the route Bruce had described as “the most fantastic scenic experience in the world”. It was good, +we stopped several times to admire particular views, + to take pictures – Ken is rather a camera buff. At Te Anau, we stopped for hamburgers, + K + A offered to let us spend the night on their motel floor. We demurred at first, not wanting to cause our new friends any trouble, but then submitted, + went with them. They were moving on to Dunedin tomorrow, offering to take us too. There was no problem slipping into the motel – it was a big, impersonal place, not very nice, but we spent all evening in the room. They were interested in the story of our travels, + it being some time since we’d told it, we were happy to oblige. They were entertained too, by the stories we had to tell. We also introduced them to Footrot Flats, the NZ comic strip – we think it’s marvellous, a sort of Snoopy with balls, + fortunately our friends concurred.
Good to encounter Ken and Anne, for the lift, for the company, and for the motel room – on the floor, but then we would be in a tent, but warm and comfortable, with a bathroom, shower, etc. Also good to be able to have some control over our experience of the scenery, stopping for photographs, taking the Milford cruise together.