Back on the bottom bus from Invercargil we had to get up extremely early to meet the Milford Explorer- the bus that would take us to and from Milford Sound. The exchange was harmless and soon we were on our way to check out one of the wonders of New Zealand.
I slept most of the way to be honest... We stopped off at a midway point to get something to eat and a toilet break. Nothing too exciting except an awesome pie shop; the pies were bursting with meat and actually quite heavy haha! Back on the road though it was becoming clear that we were getting closer. Mountains seemed to appear out of nowhere and we were beginning to drive through thick temperate rainforest. Here, we stopped off at a board walk called the mirror lakes, it was a smaller version of the view near Wanaka and was lovely but the time was turning to late morning so the ducks were out disturbing the perfect reflection. Still got some awesome pictures though!
The next point of interest was at a glacial river, the driver told us to throw away our horrible bottled water and fill up with the "good stuff", we did and it was icy cold and refreshing. It was interesting to learn that the Maori people called Milford Sound the "Land of Shadow" due to the huge amount of rainfall it gets each year. Because of the weather Milford has been left untouched and pretty much remains as nature intended. The weather today though was beautiful and clear, with a blue sky as far as the eye could see. The best time to see Milford is on a clear day like today but it's also meant to be awesome in the pouring rain too. With the high mountains either side of the fiord and the pouring rain the water falls in such quantity it creates a curtain of waterfalls- now that would be wicked to see..
Driving on we passed a waterfall and a river of the clearest blue; was nice to see the river so pure and clear. Then we came to a stop at a tunnel entrance that passed right through the heart of the mountain. The tunnel only allowed single file traffic so there was a little wait before we took our turn. The driver told us that it was cut through solid rock and took years to build, claiming the life of one worker- that was from an avalanche! Beyond the tunnel we entered Milford Sound...we were at the top of a vast valley, mountains high above and all around, jagged teeth before a blue sky, even clouds hung within. I really felt I was in a movie or something, such an incredible landscape with a road twisting and turning to the valley floor. Top Gear actually named this road as one of the top 10 roads in the world; to me a road's a road but the place I found myself in...yeah definitely one of the top 10!
We got down to the bottom and boarded the "Pride of Milford"- a boat tour which would take us out to the ocean and back, plus provided an all you can eat buffet! Damn I'm still full from my pie haha!
The tour was great, I spent most of my time outside taking everything in. We were sailing between mountains! A path created over millions of years by the movement of a glacier. An amazing sight! The rock face of the cliffs either side just rose up out of the water, it was strange to be sailing within such a place. We passed out of the mountains and into the open sea, here the captain explained why Captain Cook never discovered Milford...from a distance the entrance of the fiord is hidden, it looks like a path inside doesn't exist and is only mountain upon mountain, quite the illusion! It was discovered only by accident, a ship forced inside by rough seas. Imagine stumbling upon a place like Milford Sound, I'd love to call a place like this after me haha!
On the return journey back toward the pier we saw seals basking in the sun and loads more waterfalls, getting close enough to get wet and see rainbows in the mist. We even stopped at a museum on the water, checking out marine life and the history of Milford.
Such an awesome day filled with incredible sights but I did nearly make the day outrageous by getting a helicopter back to Queenstown haha! Sean and his peer pressure! At about $650 per person I just about managed to turn it down, would have been insane though!
The journey back to Queenstown was fine, I slept most of the 5 hours so it passed quite quickly. We checked back into Nomads and caught up with friends that were still there.
Another great day experience in New Zealand! Things just keep getting better.
Until next time.