Millford Sound, Nice and Quiet

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Wednesday, November 9, 2005

I don't understand it. Why do I seem to keep moving in differnt directions from everyone else. I was the only person on the bus to Milford Sound again, while most other people headed back to Queenstown or to Te Anau. Am I really that weird? No, don't answer that.

As it happens that driver was such a nice chap, delighted to tell a tourist everything and anything about the area we were driving through. We passed through Homer's Tunnel, the only road access to Milford sound, which had been dug out by hand after the second world war by returning troops in need of a job. He told me everything I needed to know about it until I asked how long it was. "Emmm, don't know" was his reply. Despite the fact that he drives through it four times a day, he'd never once reset his milometer to find out. Strange. For your info I think it's a couple of miles!

I arrived at the hostel, had a required post-walk shower a quick bite to eat and then straight down to see Milford Sound. I headed down with two Swiss guys and an Austrian Girl that were sharing my room. We arrived just as the sun was going down. It'd been such a lovely day that the sound just looked marvelous.

I was familiar with 'Mitre Peak'. When I lived in Bristol my housemate Mike had a picture of it on the wall of the living room. He'd spent 10 months living in Chrstchurch a number of years ago and had particularly like Milford Sound. The sound looked as good as I'd imagine it to be. High ice carved cliffs, deep, dark, moody looking water.

We took a walk round the corner to Bowen falls which is only one of two permanment falls at the sounds. During and after heavy rain then there are literally thousands of waterfalls cascading down the cliffsides, a phenonemon that I didn't get to witness here.

I took a boat cruise the next morning to see the sounds all the way out to the sea. You barely see a fraction of the whole thing on the shore and this is the only real way to see everything. I took the 'backpacker special' which not only was it the cheapest tour, but you also got a free muffin with your coffee, now that's what I call a great deal. I loved the cruise, especially when we got really close to the rock walls. The gradiant of the walls carry on down into the ocean which means you could have leaned out of the boat and touched the cliffs!

There is a special phenonemon that take place here. This part of New Zealand has an amazingly high rainfall, huge. This rainwater picks up Tannin (a dark colouring) before it flows into the sound. The fresh water then sits on top of the sea water and doesn't mix properly due to the fact that it's a sheltered fjord. The coloured fresh water acts like a big pair of sunglasses and causes deep sea conditions to occur only a few meters below the surface.

They've build an underwater observatory here that's really cool. It floats and bobs along on the sea. To see the viewing area you decend down about 10 meters of steps. It was fantastic. A circular room with loads of windows. Each had its own 'flower box' which where initially planted 20 years ago but are now left to grow naturally. They had black coral growing here (which was actually white!), this is perhaps the only time in my life that I'll ever see the stuff as the deep water conditions of Milford Sound are very very rare. Anyway, I loved the observatory, I only wished I had longer here.

My time at Milford Sound was short and it was soon time to move on. New Zealand waits for no man!
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