Milford Sound and Back

February 4, 2016

Today was the day for a New Zealand adventure not to be missed. We were off to see the famous Milford Sound and its fjord. Now we have become fjord pros over the last few months with our trip to Norway and now in New Zealand. I will be politically correct and not compare the two. Both are fantastic and should be on everyone’s must see list. Now for our day.

We awoke and were on the road by dawn. We were on the early morning cruise and needed to be in Milford by 9AM. There was little traffic until we got close. We could see the dramatic scenery but deferred stopping since we could do it on the return trip. Despite the quick trip there we had some Jaw dropping moments as we went through Homer Tunnel and descended to the beginning of the fjord.

There was a light rain or maybe it was a heavy mist as we boarded the boat with 20 or so other early risers. While we saw no blue sky, we could certainly look up 4 or 5 thousand feet towards the tops of the mountains edging the fjord. The wind was blowing at us as we headed down the fjord towards the Tasman Sea. We still remained on the top open deck for almost all of the trip out. It wasn’t that cold. I was also not tempted to jump in for a swim. I was not jealous of the kayakers fighting a 20 knot wind. The waterfalls were gushing. My neck started to hurt from the craning, but it was still enjoyable. We managed plenty of pictures.

On the return it was easier with the wind at our back. The boat did the mandatory “get the tourists wet” maneuver under a waterfall. We saw a few sleepy fur seals that used to be the reason for seal hunters to visit this remote place. They have forgotten their ancestors warnings about humans and slept as we passed. The clouds lifted enough for us to see almost to the top of iconic Mitre Peak. Actually, the rock escarpments and other mountains were equally majestic. After an hour and a quarter, we were back at the dock. We managed to secure a real cup of coffee before we started back over the mountains.

Our first stop was at the Chasm with the wonderful rocks sculpted by the force of water. We watched in relative amusement as the train of tour buses approached us from the opposite direction. Most of the folks had been on the bus for four hours when they reached us at the tunnel. The parking lot was home to a couple resident mountain parrots, the Kea. Since they were banded, they were probably considered a nuisance. They are still cute and they seemed to be eating Sandflies with their giant beaks. I applauded their efforts.

There were still only a few folks on the road returning from Milford going our direction. The drive was easy so we could pull off for pictures as necessary. Between Peggy and Bobbie the demand for stops is quite high. I complied willingly.

Our next stop was the most amusing event of the day. Monkey Creek is promoted as a local fountain of youth. I am not sure why since there a numerous similar creeks along the way. Anyway, to see a few hundred tourists scrambling over rocks and splashing around trying to fill their water bottles was fun. Humans are very predictable. We managed a few more photo ops along the way before reaching Mirror Lakes. The lakes weren’t much but the diving ducks were fun to watch.

We returned to Te Anau by mid-afternoon and bought some fresh salmon at the local butcher for our dinner. We missed being at the market with two or three buses of Asian tourists searching for dinner vegetables. It was much calmer. It seems that almost all tourist accommodations include kitchen facilities and the restaurants are pretty much limited to pizza joints. I guess we are just going with the flow especially after the disastrous “Tantric” dinner a couple nights ago.

Heading to the bottom of the island tomorrow for our date with the Penguins.

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