Milford Road + Milford Sound
We got away from Te Anau after 4pm.
The Milford Road is exceptionally scenic. First it runs north along
Lake Te Anau, with plenty of viewpoints to stop at. Then it continues
up the Eglinton River valley, between the Earl Mountains to the west and
the Livingstone Mountains on the east. We stopped at the "Mirror Lakes",
where it was still enough to get a reasonable reflection of the mountains.
There were ducks and scaup (little diving ducks) there, but also hordes
of sandflies - and it was starting to rain.
Heading over the Divide, we did the 8km side trip to Hollyford Camp,
where we booked a cabin for the following two nights. It was raining
pretty heavily, on and off, and as we headed west up the Hollyford
River valley the mist came down, hiding everything except the bottom of
the valley walls, with the waterfalls appearing from nowhere. When we
stopped outside the Homer tunnel a Kea came over to check us out, even
hoppng onto the car. We had the road to ourselves, which was nice.
We drove right down to the boat terminal before turning around and going back
to Milford Lodge. We finally got to shower - it had been four days!
- I did more battery charging in the laundry and Camilla made pasta in a
hot, crowded, and uncomfortable kitchen. It had been a stressful day.
Wednesday 12th February
We woke to find the rain had gone and it was clear with only a few clouds.
Murielle had set off at some ungodly hour on a kayaking trip, but our
cruise wasn't till 10.30, so we had time for a wander along the foreshore.
We watched a white heron on the mud flats and I took photos of Mitre
Peak and the Sound - which ended up being my best photos of the day.
(I took over 100 photos in Milford Sound, but most of them didn't turn
out that well, perhaps because of the harsh mid-day lighting and the
moving cruise boat.) And we had a leisurely coffee and cake.
The cruise terminus is huge: it apparently handles 6000 people/day at
its peak and is New Zealand's 2nd busiest passenger port. It operates
much like an airport, with "boarding at gate 6 at 10.35" explained to
us when we swapped our tickets for boarding passes.
We did the longer cruise, which goes outside the sound and turns around
and comes back in. There must have been over 100 people on board, but it
wasn't uncomfortably crowded and with views in pretty much all directions
there was no squabbling over locations. The commentary was also good -
informative, easy to follow, and not intrusive or overdone.
Huge mountains, a rocky point with seals, waterfalls, the ocean, ...
none of the photos capture my experience of Milford Sound. And it's
almost impossible to grasp the vertical scale involved anyway.
Next: Lake Marian + Hollyford Camp
Previous: the Kepler Track - down Iris Burn