I finally managed to get myself and Adam a "famil" on the eagerly anticipated trip to Milford Sound. It was a real result as we really wanted to go, seeing as Milford is considered to be the number 1 must see in New Zealand. It was also an absolute steel because the trip was worth just under $500 and we got it for free.
Milford is west of Queenstown and although as the crow flies it is not that far way, in fact someone ran it in 3 hours, it takes almost 4 hours to drive there as the road goes south, then west then north again before arriving at Milford. Milford Sound is not in fact a Sound but a Fiord and is located in the Fiordland National Park. The drive there took about 5 hours though we had many stops. We took a stop at Te Anau, a town of considerable size by New Zealand standards, though it is much smaller than Warwick so not that big in the real world. The town sits on the edge of a lake aptly named lake Te Anau and is the second largest lake in NZ. Lake Wakitipu, which is the lake Queenstown sits on, is the third largest. We stopped at the mirror lakes which were pretty but nothing compared to Lake Matheson, and also stopped at a chasm. After driving through the Homer Tunnel into Milford I did feel like an insignificant smudge on the landscape I have to say. We boarded the Milford Mariner for our 2 and a half hour cruise on the sound.
The cruise was actually a nature cruise so the guide managed to stop so close we could see a couple of Fiordland Crested Penguins. There are only 2500 in the world and we also saw NZ fur seals. We're getting to be experts at this nature lark. The big disappointment of the whole trip was the weather. Although it didn't rain, the cloud hung so low that we couldn't see the tops of the peaks which really hindered our experience. I would imagine on a sunny clear day it would have been breathtaking. Sam also went to Milford and I have his photos, the difference to how stunning it looks is quite amazing though he was exceptionally lucky as it rains at Milford 75% of the year. There were many stunning waterfalls and dramatic rock faces with luscious bright green foliage growing right down to the waters edge. Because the rock face is almost sheer, the boats can get to pretty much touch the rock without damaging the underside of the boat so when the boat swung by a waterfall we were getting pretty wet!
The journey back was not as long as the driver didn't insist on stopping every 5 minutes so we were home by 8.30pm. We had left home over 13 hours earlier so we were very tired and though sad that the weather had not lifted, we were glad to have been lucky enough to have seen what is by many considered to be the 8th wonder of the world.