So the next morning was the day of our Milford Sound trip, we woke up and the weather was far from great, but we got showered, had brekky and set off hoping it would improve. The road to Milford was open again, but we did have to carry snow chains due to avalanche risk, and because there was a large amount of snow due to drop up in the mountains. We rented some chains and set off on the road, it was a 120km drive and the first 90km's or so were pretty dull, we could see it would have been beautiful on a clear day, but we couldnt see more than about 10m's due to fog and rain. After about 90km's we came to a tunnel through one of the mountains, the tunnel was pitch black and just over a km long, we discovered our lights weren't very effective in the dark, so we crawled through the tunnel and exited into heaven, it was like going through the wardrobe. On the other side the sun was starting to come through and we were now in the middle of several mountains, all covered in snow and with waterfalls everywhere we looked. The rest of the drive took us winding through the hills down to Milford and when we pulled into the car park the sun was now almost fully out, the only issue we had was our brakes smoking on the van. We headed to the port and booked onto one of the boats heading out shortly, we paid a little extra and got a cruise which was longer than the rest, and also a boat which wasnt part of any package tours and didnt meet one of the many coach loads of people being shuttled to the harbour.
The extra money was well spent, we boarded our boat, and though the boat could clearly hold up to around 300 people, there was only around 20 of us on it, we saw some of the other boats and people were wrestling for photo oppurtunites, and good spots on deck, we had all the room we wanted. Milford Sound is actually a Fiord, and though not the biggest in NZ, it has the most dramatic mountains and waterfalls, we were out for 2.5 hours sailing through the sound out to the tasman sea and then back in again. We ended up having perfect weather, the rain stopped the moment our boat left and the sun came out fully, our guide told us there were only 5 permanent waterfalls, but due to the earlier rain we were surrounded but literally thousands of temporary falls, also to add to it all within 5mins we had a pod of dolphins swimming along the boat and playing on the bow. Its hard to desribe Milford except it was stunning, so hopefully our pictures have done it justice, but it was incredible. On the drive back to the campsite we stopped and visitied a few of the spots we had passed in the rain and grabbed some better photos now the sun was out.
Next morning was time to be on the road again, and next destination was Queenstown, somewhere we were looking forward to, the scenery is meant to be amazing, and its home of extreme sports. We arrived mid afternoon and headed for a walk around town, we had a beer by the harbour and then headed up the gondola which took us to the top of a mountain over looking the town. We grabbed some snaps then had great fun on the luge ride, basically from the top you jump on little go karts and zip down a couple of man made tracks, a lot of fun, We had also booked onto the Shotover jet for the next day, a jet boat which flys through canyons at 85kms an hour, and was reccomended to us by a few people we'd met. We were keen on doing a skydive whilst here, but money is getting tight and we simply can not afford to do it, and i never have any intention of doing a bungy jump let alone the biggest in the world, so we booked the jet taking that as our adrenaline hit whilst in queenstown.
We woke the next morning to torrential heavy rain, we were due at our jet boat around mid day, so we sat in the van, had some breakfast for the morning then headed down, and as expected the boat was cancelled but we rebooked in for later in the day hoping the weather would clear. Due to the heavy rain it makes it near impossible to cook in our van so we decided now would be a great time to try a Fergburger, you cant come to Queenstown and not try them we were told and they were right, the best burgers ever. After our burger and grabbing some needed groceries we headed back to the jet boat check in, the sun was now out so we headed off on the bus to where the boats go. We were given waterproofs and put on a little jet boat in the canyon, for the next 40mins we were flung around whilst shooting 85kmph down a tight canyon, with the driver taking every opportunity to get as close to the rocks and river bank as possible and throwing in some 360 spins. At times we were sure the driver had got it wrong and we were going to crash, but he always managed to miss by milimetres. It was great fun, and although not the adrenaline rush we had expected we both really enjoyed it. Whilst eating breakfast we had met a couple from Gillingham, also in a spaceship, and met up with them in the evening for a few drinks around Queenstown.
Next morning it was time to leave Queenstown and head up towards Franz Josef glacier, due to us both being hungover and it being a fair drive we decided we would just drive and see how far we could get. We took a McDonalds breakfast for the road and headed off. We got about 30kms out of Queenstown and our petrol light started going off, we were currently on some incredibly steep hills and didnt fancy getting stuck there, so we checked our tomtom for the nearest petrol station and had to head back into Queenstown to fill up. So we wasted about 1.5 hours, and set off from Queenstown for the second time, this time we stuck to the highways and arrived in a town called wanaka and took a pit stop at Puzzling World, we spent an hour solving the maze then headed inside where they have several optical illusions and other head f***s, the final room was on a slant and they had several illusions which combined with my hangover almost had me throwing up so we got out quick! We sat by the lake and had some lunch then pushed on again towards Franz Josef. The weather turned nasty again so we decided we might aswell be driving than sitting in our van and after what felt like an eternity we reached Franz and checked into a campsite, the journey had taken us over 11hours all in all and we were both glad to be out the van. After some showers and dinner we both collapsed in the van and passed out for the night.
We woke up a bit later than planned the next day, and quickly ran into town and booked onto the Glacier walk, we were in two minds whether to do a half or full day but due to oversleeping we were too late for the full day and had to settle for the half day anyway. We were given some hiking boots, crampons and waterproofs and shuttled on a bus down to the start of the glacier. It was a good hours walk to the front of the ice, and from there we made a steep climb us some rocky debris to the actual ice, we cracked on our crampons and started running around on the ice, it was easy to forget where you were, standing on upto 300m's deep ice which was actually moving at a rate of 5ms's a day. A short way into our trip our guide said they had just found a new cave which had formed and did we want to make the detour to see it, he said it would only take 10mins to cut a route to so we said to do it! It actually took them over a hour to cut the path, and we were left in a small icy crevace waiting for them, but it was worth it when we finally got into this cave. It had formed from pressure on the inside, so there was a completely sealed roof, and after a tight squeeze we popped out in a little igloo in the glacier, very impressive and the guide claimed it was the bst feature he'd seen in over a year. From there we walked for another hour or so through the glacier, climbing up and down and through untill we reached a large flat area where we all grabbed some photos, then headed back down the ice. In the end it all turned out well for us, as we were only meant to have up to 2 hours on the ice, however we had over 3 hours and saw this amazing cave, which would have probably have collapsed again by the next day. Once back we sat back at the campsite with another couple we'd met and had a few beers and relaxed. The next morning we were heading off again, destination unkown, except that we were heading north!!