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Published: June 29th 2017
Geo: -44.6698, 167.928
Here I am in the most picturesque, scenic cabin after the most breathtaking, awe inspiring drive I have ever experienced. The Te Anau - Milford Highway is an experience in its own right. We arrived at Te Anau around 10, after departing Queenstown at 8.15. Its a pretty place by a lake for a stroll, to top up fuel, gather supplies and information before heading North towards Milford. We grabbed a pepper steak pie from here which lived up to its hype. Heading north is a journey into the heart of the Fjordland National Park. Its basically a sole 120km highway all the way to Milford with the exception of a 30km unpaved turnoff, Hollyford Road which finishes at Humboldt Falls. Along the way, dozens of short and long walks, lakes, tracks, pools, waterfalls and places to marvel at. Brief description aside, Ill pretty much just let the photos do the talking but I still feel they don't fully encapsulate the beauty of these places.
First stop on the Highway was the Mirror Lakes. Aptly named as when still, so clear they reflect a mirror image of the overlooking mountains. Second, Cascade Creek, which linked onto the Lake Gunn Nature
walk. This was a dense, green forest trail. The moss and fungus here clung to everything, making for a tangled array of green shapes all around. The track touched onto the banks of lake Gunn for a nice view.We made a couple of scenic lookout stops before reaching the Hollyford Road turn off. At one, we were lucky enough to see a wild Koa mountain parrot by the carpark, who was kind enough to pose for a photo. 1km into the Hollyford Road, we stopped off at the Lake Marian track. This sported a very cool swingbridge over a scenic river, following the river to a lookout of a few small but powerful waterfalls. This was nothing compared to what was to come.
We followed the Hollyford road to the end and hiked about 15 minutes to come before the impressive towering Humboldt Falls. It really was huge. A thin falls broken into three sections tumbling off the mountain.From here we turned back, stopping at a historic grave en route back to the Highway. Here the mountains really lurched up, imposing their magnificence all around us, until we reached the mouth of Homers tunnel, the only land entrance to Milford Sound.
Built in 1953, the tunnel pierces sheer rock to allow access to Milford. As if passing through wasn't enough, the views on the otherside rivaled anything Id seen before; Imposing cliffs, mountains with countless waterfalls falling everywhere. We wound through until we reached the Chasm, touted for its powerful waterfalls. Another place living up to its billing, we were greeted soon enough by the deafening sound of water surging through a canyon gap into the gully below.Just kilometres now to Milford itself.
The actual view at the end was slightly underwhelming. With the tide out, it looked a little more like Milford Swamp. We checked into our amazing cabins at Milford lodge a little after 4. There was nothing underwhelming about this place; Luxury cabins, right on a turquoise blue river, with amazing mountain views. The rest of the afternoon we spent on a short Milford track, enjoying nachos at the cafe and just lapping up the views and atmosphere from our cabin. I decided tomorrow to book a helicopter flight above the Sound with a possible glacier landing. We also have breakfast, a fjord cruise and an underwater marine exhibit to look forward to. Plus the scenic return to
Queenstown. Tomorrows going to be another great day.
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