The sheer scale of things
Ever since I've been in New Zealand I was told to see Milford Sound. People would talk about it enthusiastically and I so wished I could see and experience it for myself.
I love mountains. The town I grew up in has the Outeniqua mountains on one side and the sea on the other. When I moved to Cape Town, I lived and worked between Table mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. But travelling with a cat has its limitations. So when I was thinking of going to Milford Sound, I put a lot of thought into how to do it. Should I take Ferrari in the motorhome, park it there and then drive back? Or should I leave her at the holiday park at Te Anau for a whole day? For various reasons (Ferrari usually sleeps in the motorhome during the day; she doesn't like to travel more than an hour and a half at most; we cannot stay at a DOC camp because pets are not allowed, etc.) I left her in the motorhome at the park and took a guided bus tour and cruise.
I could hardly sleep the night before, I felt horribly guilty for leaving my baby cat (I can tell you in advance that she showed no signs of distress whatsoever when I returned that evening - and no sign of missing her mum either). I got up early in morning and started walking to the Top 10 Holiday Park where the bus picked me up at 8am.
Our guide, Jamie was extremely knowledgeable and passionately spoke about the environment and natural bird life. He showed us beautiful cascades and the Mirror Lake. He told us that the road to Milford Sound took about three decades to build. Workers created little settlements so that they could have their families with them for the duration of the build. The single-lane tunnel we drove through, is monitored with cameras and traffic on each side is allowed through every eight minutes. Jamie recons the fire extinguishers in the tunnel come in handy. He had used it on someone's car once. The difference in altitude causes vehicles to overheat and in one or two cases, to actually catch fire.
The boat cruise was equally great - windy, but great. At one point I went inside (or was blown inside!), but couldn't see much so opted to rather face the wind. The waterfalls are spectacular and the seals are remarkably acceptant of people gawking curiously at them! Choosing photos for this post is particularly difficult because there is so much to show.
On the way to Milford
Reflection in Mirror Lake
A little Robyn that hid under the van.
Beautiful cloud formations
Glaciers continues to melt as the winters are just not cold enough for new glacier ice to form. From what I understand you need four cold winters in a row for ice growth to happen.
When the Homer tunnel was built during the 1930's it started off with only five men chipping away at the rock with pickaxes. It took five years to brake through the 1.2km and much longer to make it wide enough for cars to pass through. The tunnel runs from east to west and has a gradient of 1:10.
Although there are two lanes leading up to the tunnel, it is quite narrow inside.
Above and below: the view before we went on the boat.
According to our skipper all 14 sounds are named incorrectly and should be called fiords because they were formed by glaciers. Sounds are formed by flooding of a river valley.
Hamish, our skipper, tour guide, and television operator (for those who didn't want to weather the wind).
Soooo cute.... and a little stinky😁
We went really close and had a little bit of shower.
Almost ready to dock again
February last year there was a flood and huge boulders got washed into the river. The road to Milford was also severely damaged, but were mostly fixed by the time we were there.
Our tour guide, Jamie.
The way back to Te Anau.