Everyone you speak to who has been to the South Island recommends a visit to Milford Sound. Rightly so, too. We had been advised to get out there relatively early to beat the many bus loads that arrive every day. Therefore we hit the road nice and early, a bit before 7am.
Milford Sound is 120kms out from Te Anau. There is only one road out and back. It was quite foggy when we left, so we didn’t get to see much scenery at first.
We didn’t stop at many places on our way out, as we weren’t sure how long it would take. However, we had been told to make sure we stopped at the Mirror Lakes as they are best seen in the morning while the weather is calm.
The weather played nicely, no ripples, except when a duck landed, and the fog had nearly cleared.
Some random pics from along the way.
The cruise we chose (there are many options) was a Nature Cruise that left at 10.30 and ran for two and a half hours. It wasn’t too crowded, which was good. Here is our boat.
The famous Mitre Peak, which rises 1600 metres from the sea.
The weather couldn’t have been better – fine and sunny. We were reminded just how lucky we were, as Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited place on earth. To receive 10 inches of rain in one day is not unheard of.
We were also told that we were in a Fjord, not a Sound. A Sound is created by a river, whereas a Fjord is created by a glacier. The name “Sound” was given before the true nature of the area was known, so has stuck.
The only downside of fine weather was that not as many waterfalls were running. This one is Fairy Falls.
The boat captain nosed the vessel right up to the cliff face. That says something about how deep the water is there.
As we headed along he unfurled one of the sails, if only for show. Here we are about to leave the sound and enter the Tasman Sea.
We stood up at the pointy end of the boat for most of the trip, which was fun, especially once headed into the open sea. Yes, I do have my warm red hat and coat on and it wasn’t for show. It was freezing, despite the sun shining.
It wasn’t long before we turned around and headed back into the sound. Apparently, several early sailors had passed this point without realising the vast stretch of water which lay behind the entrance.
More seals. Common damn things.
Mick and I decided to go upstairs on the boat and we were glad once we reached this next waterfall, as the boat nosed right in and the people down the front got rather soaked.
This is the highest of the waterfalls.
You don’t realise how high it is until you see a rather large boat sitting at the bottom. That puts things into perspective.
More beautiful scenery. Imagine what it must be like when there is more snow on the hills.
After our cruise, we headed back to Te Anau. Another stop we were advised to make was “The Chasm”. It was a lovely ferny walk in.
Here it is. The water comes rushing down the river, over some strange shaped rocks……..
And then plummets into a rather deep chasm. We viewed it from a bridge across the river, so rather hard to get photos. Just take my word for it, it was spectacular.
Look at the wonderful tall trees on the walk back to the car.
What I didn’t tell you about on our way out was the tunnel. The road is windy, but not as narrow as we had expected. Towards the sound you actually travel through a tunnel. The entrance isn’t terribly interesting from the top side, but the road is really steep within the tunnel and continues to be very steep for quite a while as you travel down towards the sound. You can appreciate it a bit better on the way back. This wall of granite is what had to be penetrated.
The signage gives you a bit of an idea of how the road was built, mainly by hand, as it was too difficult to get equipment in.
See the white horizontal line about a third of the way up on the below picture, at the edge of the greenery…well that is the entrance to the tunnel. What a task it must have been. Apparently, during construction, wages, mail and some supplies were delivered to the workers by someone coming down that cliff on a rope. Crazy!
I love the way this photo of the exit of the tunnel turned out.
One final photo. This is the Eglinton River Plains looking back towards the sound. It was in fog in the morning, but how stunning is that! Perfectly flat ground with the mountains behind.
We didn’t arrive back at Te Anau until nearly 6 pm. It surprised us how our day filled up and how tired we were by the time we returned. Lots of people travel by coach from Queenstown, another two hours away. You would spend half of your time sleeping in the bus. We were glad that we didn’t have any further to travel on the day.
As you have probably gathered, our trip to Milford Sound was a highlight of our journey and one that shouldn’t be missed.