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Milford Sound

NEW ZEALAND | Saturday, 1 March 2014 | Views [287]

Me in my titanic moment

Me in my titanic moment

Almost missed the bus this morning for the cruise to Milford Sound. Didn't brush my teeth or get any water. Yikes. But I made it, getting ready in just six minutes. Luckily, I had my clothes and everything already out and ready. And I had bought food for lunch that I was able to stuff in my bag on the way out. I thought the bus didn't come until 9:30, but when I checked my phone this morning at 8:09, it said the bus pickup was at 8:15. Holy moly did I jump into action.

On the ride to Milford we had several stops and the bus driver talked and gave a lot of facts.

1.Beech trees are the native tree to this part of New Zealand. They have three kinds: silver, red and I didn't hear the third kind. They won't grow above a certain level on the mountain - that's what they call the bush line. (They refer to the woods as the bush here.)

2. Wind, created by a large rock falling from the mountain, can shear off a whole area of trees. Not the rock itself, but the wind it creates from falling. The driver pointed out an area where this had happened. It was pretty cool.

3. The red on the rocks is from a lichen that's growing on it. I saw this red on the rocks at the glacier as well.

4. There's a tunnel you have to travel through under the mountain that goes downhill en route to Milford. Apparently, the first weekend of April, the locals have a fundraising marathon at night after the traffic has gone, to see who can run down the fastest. The catch is you have to be naked to participate! What? Have to check that one. Maybe the driver is pulling our leg...

5. Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are both misnamed. They are actually fjords, but when they were named, it was not known that they were created by glaciers so they were called sounds. Sounds are formed differently and are deeper closer to the sea - the opposite of fjords. I think I got that right.

Incredible first vista on the way to Milford.  We were in a valley and at the same level as the cloud line. And the snow-capped mountains were so clear and crisp. And it was chilly!! I bet it was barely 40 out there. Maybe colder. Kind of a neat start to the day.

Second vista - Two Mirror Lakes. Also impressive, with the mirrored lakes reflecting the majestic mountains. Awe-some! Wish I could have stayed longer. 

Third vista - we stopped this side of the tunnel because there was a 10 minute wait time before we could enter. Got some great pics of a vast valley and a waterfall.

So far the tour was really nice. It's a small bus, only twenty people and it stops at vistas. I thought it would just be a drive to the Sound and back with not much in between. So far, well done, and better than taking the big bus or the more expensive tour. 

The Milford Cruise itself was awesome. Not too cold.  I found the front of the boat, the lower deck in front of the control booth, before anyone else did and I had the place to myself for near the whole first part of the tour. I had a super fun "titanic" moment standing out on the front of the boat By Myself. Still can't believe there was no one there. At one point, the boat moved really close to the shear cliff and it felt like we were going by an iceberg made of rock. Totally awesome! Wish I had gotten video of that.

As we go down the fjord, it gets more green, lots of trees. After about 30 minutes, we reached the sea and the water changed to a bluer color before we turned around. Heading back, the views were even better.

Milford Sound was absolutely lovely. I couldn't stop smiling afterwards. Such a fantastic tour. I thoroughly enjoyed it. To be outside in such a vast beautiful place, moving slowly on the front of the boat -it made me feel so excited inside! Just absolutely lovely!!

On our return we stopped three times.

The bridge over the river had these huge boulders in it. I couldn't believe how big they were.

Then we stopped at this place that was like a crack in the earth that water was running through. I forget the name of it now. It was hard to get pictures because of the difference in lighting between the top and the bottom of the crevice.

Stopped at Monkey Creek and drank straight from it! Driver said it was tested and was 99% pure water - the wettest water in the world by his account. It tasted like water plus a little bit of rock. Like if you licked a rock and then drank a glass of sweet water. That's what it tasted like.

Final, unexpected stop. Some farmers were moving their cattle down pasture and we got stuck behind the whole herd for about 20 minutes. Pretty cool actually. 

All in all, it was a fantastic day. I hope the pictures reflect the beauty of it all.

 

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