Mil-FIORD Sound

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
DOC Site - Lake Gunn, Milford Rd

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's THE spot in NZ that just about everyone you meet reckons that you really shouldn't miss. Many regretfully do as the road there requires a significant detour of about 4 hrs one way: looping down from Queenstown, around to Te Anau, back up on the Milford road and across
to the Tasman sea. It's not just a quick stopover yet it's still the most accessible of the 12 sounds that make up Fiordland. And Milford road is renowned as "one of the most scenic roads in the world", so well worth the journey. That's why we had to do it in daylight.

Well, the sun shone... SOMEwhere way beyond the clouds! It drizzled non-stop but then what else should one expect in a rainforest? Apparently Milford Sound gets an average of 7m (yes, metres!) of annual rainfall, the second highest in the world!

On the morning of our cruise the world was covered with a cloak of mist. But when we boarded The Adventurer the sun came out to play for a bit and so did the dolphins!

Behold the breathtaking Milford Sound... (see pics) although technically it's a fiord! According to the Captain Neil a "fiord" results from a melted glacier whereas a "sound" forms when rising sea
levels reclaims land. Don't worry, here ends the geology lesson.

However according to Maori legend the fiords were formed at the hands of the great god Tu-to-Rakiwhanoa (try saying THAT fast a few times!). He started in the south carving the fiords with his mighty axe and as he worked he perfected his technique ending with his masterpiece, the northernmost Milford sound.

The goddess of death (with an equally tongue-twisting name) was very impressed when she came to inspect Tu's handiwork but very worried that any human visiting Milford sound may never want to leave such a gorgeous place. So she unleashed her wrath. i.e. hordes of
blood-hungry sandflies to chase those pesky tourists away! We much prefer this version. :)

So was it one of the most scenic roads in the world, in our view? The rain literally put a damper/blinder on things, so perhaps on a clear day it could be a contender? Frankly we've been along more scenic roads like Queen Caroline drive in the Marlborough sounds and of course, dear old Chapman's peak drive in Cape Town (not that we're biased ;-).

Was Milford sound all that? Not really. Again, possibly due to the weather. The waterfalls are said to be particularly plentiful after rainfall but apparently OURS wasn't heavy enough. Time your trip carefully to maximise your return. For us it's another box ticked!

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