Today the weather was supposed to be pretty much the same as yesterday, but we didn’t have a lot planned so we’re just taking it easy. We started with a bit of a sleep in and then after some breakfast we went for a walk through the wildlife park. It’s just a small bird park that is entry by donation. They have a few of the endangered birds there. We saw a pair of the rare, flightless Takahe, which are like big Pukeko, and were thought to be extinct until the 1940s. There aren’t many left in the wild on the mainlaind, most of the population of them are now out on the more remote island where there aren’t any introduced predators such as stoats (a huge problem for native wildlife) and rats. The story is the same for the Kaka which is a big ground-dwelling parrot, that looks a bit like a Kea, only bigger and ground-dwelling, so once again at risk from introduced predators.
It’s much warmer than it was yesterday and the afternoon today was much nicer. After lunch (yummy pies from the very special Miles Better Pies) we went on a cruise across Lake Te Anau to the Te Anau Glowworm caves. These caves were part of Maori legend until they were rediscovered in 1948. They are only accessible by boat and are a cave system that has a glowworm grotto along the way. Doing the tour is the only way to see them. The guides take small groups of up to 14 people at a time through the barely-lit tunnels with water racing and tumbling underneath the walkways. The sections that have some light show waterfalls and whirlpools and incredibly clear water. At some points the roof is so low you have to bend in half to get through. Then you get into a small boat for a short ride in darkness and silence into the glowworm grotto. The only lights are the pinpricks of light from the glowworms’ bums. They use the light to catch food and are very sensitive to noise and external light, so you have to be completely quiet and there are no cameras, or other light sources allowed. It’s extremely eerie, but quite beautiful. The underground tour is followed by a video presentation in the visitor’s centre while you’re waiting for the other groups to all complete their tours and then it’s back on the boat for the trip back across the lake.
For tea tonight we decided to try the renowned Redcliffe Café. It’s Lonely Planet’s pick as the best restaurant in town. It’s easily the most expensive with ridiculously exhorbitant prices. Stephen had a billy of littleneck clams (aka cockles) followed by smoked salmon. He thouroughly enjoyed it. I did not enjoy my chef’s vegetarian special at all. A piece of a very ordinary quiche and a salad. The quiche was definitely at least a day old and was quite flavourless. I only ate half of it and when the waitress asked me what I thought I told her exactly what I’ve written here. I definitely would not recommend the place, no matter how many awards it’s won and no matter what the meat-eaters obviously think of their meals. When you claim to be exceptional and charge prices like that, you need to cater equally to all of your clients.