Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Milford Sound

We were collected bright and early at 7.15 a.m. by Keith and Mayumi from the Bar B Que bus for our full day trip to Te Anau and Milford Sound. Had no idea that Milford Sound was so far from Queenstown however at least it gave Matthew an opportunity to view the sights enroute without having to concentrate on driving. Matthew was completely oblivious to what Milford Sound actually was? In fact he thought we were off to some sort of music festival....(Obviously geography is not a strong point!) Anyway, as the bus made its way along the shores of Lake Wakatipu towards Kingston, Keith provided an excellent commentary on not only the history of Milford Sound but also detailed information on the local flora and fauna. As we had come to expect, the views in this part of the island were spectacular. After about 3 hours we drove into Te Anau on the banks of Lake Te Anau. This was to be our morning tea stop and we were directed to a fantastic little pie shop just around the corner from our bus stop. The pie shop was doing a roaring trade so we figured the pies must be pretty good - and they were! The weather in Te Anau was starting to look a little bit gloomy however we were optimistic that it would improve as we got closer to Milford. After our morning tea stop we were back on the bus again heading into the Fiordland National Park. What an amazing place! Stunningly beautiful - majestic snowcapped mountains, fast flowing rivers and fields of beautiful lupins. Fortunately there were plenty of "photo stops" along the way and I was so pleased that I had charged the camera batteries the night before. At around 12 noon the bus pulled into a picnic area and whilst Keith and Mayumi set up the bar b que we set off on a half hour bush walk on a very well marked loop bush track.
Magnificent moss covered trees, ferns and sounds of native birds - it was a great opportunity to stretch our legs and immerse ourselves well and truly in this natural paradise. By the time we arrived back at the picnic site - lunch was sizzling away on the bar b que and salads etc. were ready to be served up. It was a great experience - a bar b que picnic in the most beautiful surrounds.
After packing up we headed further into the National Park and as we did the scenery became more and more alpine looking and unfortunately, more and more drizzly. Snow drifts on the sides of the road and remnants of recent avalanche activity. By the time we reached the Homer Tunnel the rain was coming down quite heavily and whilst we waited for the green light to enter the tunnel we watched the antics of a couple of Kea perched on the roof of a small car near our bus. Most destructive!

By the time we arrived at Milford Sound at 2 p.m. the rain was pouring down and it was looking very miserable (and cold). However I figured this was the 8th Wonder of the World and we might never get an opportunity to see it again, so Matthew and I perched ourselves on the top open deck of the catamaran and (literally) weathered the elements. Waterfalls everywhere! Even in the rain and mist this was a truly magical place. We also managed to see a couple of fur seals perched on a rocky outcrop and on the way home were followed by 5 dolphins. Amazing!
At 4 p.m. we boarded the bus for the long trip back to Queenstown. The day would have been absolutely perfect if it weren't for Matthew experiencing the most dreadful travel sickness on the way home. He made good use of the brown paper bags placed strategically in the bus seat pockets - which we were to find out later were not exactly "water proof". Luckily my spray jacket carry bag was - so I was able to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation. "This is the reason you travel with your Mum" says Matthew.....

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