The photo above was taken early in the morning as Jerry and I walked around Lake Manapouri. A little duck family was just heading out on the lake. This was our favorite moment in Te Anau, a tiny lake front town where we visited the Glowworm Caves with a guide from Real Journeys. I hope it will inspire paintings for both of us.
I think I forgot to mention that to get to Doubtful Sound we had to take a bus from Queenstown, a little ferry across Lake Manapouri, a four-wheel drive bus (yep, for real – the roads are quite rough) to get to the Fiordland Navigator. When we left the Navigator, we were more than halfway to Lake Manapouri and Te Anau already.
The ancient Maori name Te Anau means “cave with a current of swirling water.” As the brochure says, “your journey through the caves by path and small boat takes you into a dynamic and exciting environment. Please take a moment to read our safety instructions.”
Uh huh. They don’t warn you that it’s pitch dark in there and the pathway requires a good deal of skirting rock walls that slant toward you and walking along a narrow stone pathway with a waterfall, a whirlpool and gushing stream beneath you, making a deafening sound. It didn’t bother Jerry at all but, in all honesty, I was terrified for a few moments.
I don’t recommend this adventure for anyone with claustrophobia or fear of water or fear of total darkness.
After this walk, you get into a boat and travel up through the caves to see the glowworms. No photos are allowed, unfortunately. You can feel the water rushing beneath you as it heads for the waterfall. The water was especially high because of all the recent rains and snow melt.
Jerry and I commented that this adventure would never be allowed in the U.S. The attorneys would have such a field day with it.
In the end, I was really glad I did it, though. Those little glowworms are amazing creatures. And I realized I could handle it after that one moment when I was frozen with terror.
– Paula Rath