Have had an awesome day today - to use a good NZ word. Been to Milford Sound which is where the picture is, though it wasn't quite as blue skied as that. It took all day to get there and back but it was excellent. Up at 6.00 to catch a 6.45 pre-dawn coach to MS. The coach driver (Vale, he said his name was) was great and once we got past Te Anau he spoke all the way there, which was about two hours, telling Maori legends and telling us the history of the road and the area. We went through the snow line early on, it blizzarded at the Homer Tunnel, but we still saw two of the famous kea parrots of which there are only 2500 in the world - from about a foot away! When we got to the Sound/fjord itself we got on a boat and the weather cleared up while we set out for the mouth of the fjord where it finsishes and the Tasman Sea starts. I have never been on a boat trip quite like it - fantastic scenery, 4000 ft sheer cliffs, puny-looking 500 ft sheer waterfalls, then fur seals at short quarters but then the best of all - two huge bottle-nosed dolphins playing in front of the bows of the boat, about four foot from the end of my camera! Then, to cap itall, the mist virtually cleared off Mitre Peak and I got some good shots of the whole fjord, as on the picture.
I've rarely been in a place that took my breath away, the only other ones I can think of are Niagara and Victoria Falls and the Grand Canyon. It was brilliant!
I'm now pretty tired but exhilarated. Tomorrow I get up early again to catch another coach, this time north to the Franz Joseph Glacier halfway up the west coast, where I plan to stay tomorrow night (hopefully indoors!), before continuing on the next day across Arthur's Pass (high alpine pass) back to Christchurch. So pray with me that the snow keeps minimal and the pass isn't shut!
More tomorrow if I can find an internet place,