About time I did some catching up with telling you all what we’ve been up to.
A week last Sunday we set off from Te Anau for the two hour drive to Milford Sound.
The drive to Milford was amazing; a vast variety of landscapes unfolded as we rolled along. We had frequent breaks to take photos of lakes, plains, mountains, waterfalls, fields and flowers. We also drove through the Homer Tunnel in Fjordland close to Milford. That was first sizable tunnel I’ve driven through as was quite scary, being very dark even with headlamps on. As usual there were crowds of camper-vans along the road, as well as lots of coaches ferrying people to the Sound from Queenstown etc. We definitely made the right decision in using the van, as we could stop where and when we wanted en route.
Arriving at Milford Sound after driving through mountains and valleys, we parked in the free car park (along with lots of other camper-vans) and went over to a cafe to book tickets for a cruise. We had half an hour or so to kill before we set off so made ourselves lunch from the food in the van. We then wrapped up warm, as the cloud was hanging ominously over the Sound.
We had booked with Mitre Cruises who run smaller boats than some of the companies, and we got prime seats on top of the boat as we set off into the Sound.
I really cannot do justice to the place in words, and even the photos can only give you the slightest idea of how magnificent Milford Sound is. The mountains tower over the water, dwarfing even the largest cruise boats. Waterfalls cascade down the sheer cliffs into the water, showering the boats in spray.
Milford Sound isn’t really a ‘Sound’, it’s a fjord, but that didn’t stop the guy who discovered it from naming it after Milford Haven, his home town in Wales).
As we moved westward along the Sound the weather got heavier with cloud hanging lower and a heavy drizzle falling on us. We moved down to the back of the boat where we were lucky enough to see a small family of dolphins swimming only a few metres from the boat.
After about an hour of the breathtaking scenery, and watching Yellow-Crested Penguins jumping around on the rocks we reached the Tasman Sea, where we were around 800 miles from Tasmania. As we reached the open water the weather had changed again, changing to brilliant blue skies and sunshine, quickly drying the seats on the boat.
Heading back in brought us back into the damp, but we were able to watch New Zealand fur seals basking in the sun, as well as getting closer to some of the fantastic waterfalls.
We were lucky to experience such a variety of weather as it gave us different views of the Sound in light and gloom, damp and dry. As the rain came down, new waterfalls sprang up in the cliffs, and surrounding mountains, painting stripes of white foam down the rocky mountainsides.
Two hours after setting off we were back on dry land, thrilled to have done the boat trip and still unable to believe how stunningly beautiful the place was.
The drive back was great, the new waterfalls and damp rock changed the landscape again and the roads were quieter (and they’re not exactly bumper to bumper at the busiest times).
Back to Te Anau, and on to the Red Cliff Bar and Restaurant for an excellent meal. The LotR cast hung out there during filming nearby, and there’s a signed t-shirt hanging on the wall to prove it. Great little place and with fab food at good prices I can see why it would be popular.