Milford Sound & The FiordLands

We awoke to find we’d lost our sunny skies to ‘spitting’ rain. Fate has a wonderful way of working out – our plan was to enjoy the remaining drive to Milford Sound and while upset to see low cloud and drizzle, were reminded that when it rains you get wicked crazy awesome waterfalls!

The drive to Milford Sound from Te Anau is 120 Kms from which you must then turn around and drive back the way you came, i.e. if you didn’t like the drive, tough luck – there ain’t no other way out of Milford.

Nature never fails to deliver. The drive is a wonderful windy narrow road flanked by vertical mountain cliffs, hundreds of waterfalls (when raining), and beautiful (there’s that word again) views. We stopped at "The Gorge", a massive rushing river carving its way through the limestone which was most impressive. Continuing on, about 30 Kms south of Milford you pass through the famous (?) Homer Tunnel were Homer took Bart and his elephants or something. It looks as old and unstable as it is but fortunately the government limits their exposure to risk by only allowing one direction of traffic through every 15 minutes. This allows you to sit at the tunnel mouth stop light for up to 15 minutes, weighing your odds and counting the pieces of fallen rock around you. To help distract you from immanent death by mountain collapse, there are plenty of Kea birds (like mountain parrots) hanging around the tunnel mouths. I’m not sure if they’re related to vultures or just like watching frightened Japanese tourists in rain coats.

Milford Sound itself is fairly lackluster. Picture, if you will, a 45 year old ski lodge converted to a budget backpacker lodge with an over priced cafeteria decorated with photos of drunken events long past, and discoloured photos of river ferries long since sunk… and you pretty much have it.

Milford Sound, like Doubtful Sound to the South West, caters to tourists jumping on an assortment of river ferries taking you through stunning natural wonders which on a nicer day I’m sure we would have loved. I however was keen to get back through that tunnel as quickly as possible, and Sarah was keen to play with some of the Keas, so back in the car we jumped.

As our days were growing thin we drove back towards Queenstown that evening and once again camped at our favourite spot, South of Glenorchy.

Check out the photos!

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