The deafening sound of silence pierces Fiordland, only bird song and the crackle of logs on the fire may break the code of silence, the hush of Lake Te Anau lapping softly against the smooth pebbles of the inland beach and the wind whispers “By Eck It's Cold!”.
The only element which didn't get the quiet memo was the rain ringing out in the night sky as it smashed down on our log cabin. Our little log cabin, over looking the ever changing mountain ranges, due to its ever changing weather.
Our hostel was on huge acreage on a deer farm, deer were here, there, everywhere surrounded by high wire fences. We have no i-deer where the venison gets shipped to, there only seems to be limited amounts in the supermarkets and usually in sausages.
Our first day in Fiordland was a washout, so we spent some of the day researching visits to the fiords and the other part going to see Ata Whenua: Shadowlands.
This is a film made by a film maker (obviously!) who also happens to be a helicopter pilot, it was six years in the making and to top it all he had a cinema
built in Te Anau to show it! Some of the cinemas in NZ are such a civilized affair, you get spacious seats, in some sofas and you are able to buy a bottle of wine or beer which could be accompanied by a cheese platter or nachos; us, well we had our fingers to twiddle. Ata Whenua
is a chance to view the whole of Fiordland from the seat of a helicopter but in the comfort of the cinema, where you are swooped up and down the walls of waterfalls, fiord's, bushland and the ocean through all the seasons of the year in all the weathers it can throw at you, this is great for all of us who unfortunately do not have the time to hang around for six years and have a helicopter to hand. There is no commentary to the film just relaxing music, after half an hour of awesome footage and relaxing music we realised it was money well spent, a therapist's couch would have been much more expensive and probably less comfortable. No offence Bev we know your sofa is really comfortable!!!
The film had dangled its carrot and we were hoping the fine
forecast for the next day would mean we were good to go.....and it was and we did! The drive to get to Milford Sound was worth the trip alone, it wound its way through open pastures with mountainous backdrops to sheer jet black rock faced valley's, made all the more beautiful by the snow that had dusted or sometimes dumped over everything. Other highlights included the Mirror Lake which did exactly what it said on the tin and a pitch black and dripping wet tunnel 1200 metres straight through the steep Cleddau Valley!
Arriving at Milford looking over the Sound, it had a familiarity about it having seen so many images of it beforehand but in person it looked even more staggering. We ventured onto a boat to take a trip around Milford, who were all these other people on board.........hang on a pesky minute, tourists! We usually avoid doing tourist things, anyone would think we are one ourselves with our photographic equipment and packed lunch but that's where you would be mistaken; we are Kiro and Kiro don't do tourist tour things, we travel!
As we cruised or rather motored around Milford we realised our good fortune
at getting to see the place in blue sky and sunlight, then on the return journey the cloud bubbled up and we saw it at what some would say is its moody best, looking atmospheric. On the Sound you get to experience the vastness of this landscape and how small in comparison we were floating on our tiny boat. The waterfalls flowed steadily, reserving their might for the next big downpour. The fur seals paid no attention to the camera clicking as the boats passed by, minding their own business laying on their rocky beds, with the occasional lifting of ones head to find out what the fuss is all about and with a flick of a flipper it's back to the serious art of napping!
As we returned to dock with the sun firmly behind the clouds and the wind funneling along Milford it was bitter, our thoughts never far away from our chocolate whammy, hot chocolate and a double chocolate muffin! There was time for a final quick stop and walk around a place called The Chasm, a deep channel which has been sculpted out by the smooth swirling rapids, hidden by the surrounding bush. The enjoyable
silence was only broken by a bus full of young punks turning up! Kidz eh!
The drive home was as stunning, the sun slowly made its way west, getting ready for yet another day as did we. Our plans to visit Doubtful Sound were unfortunately thwarted by the weather, we can't always have things our own way, after all missing some things means we have an excuse to come back again. However, the tiny part of Fiordland we have seen has been a wonder on the visual senses.
Leaving the sound of silence was deafening, like leaving the mid-afternoon cinema can be blinding, our ears were still very attuned to the whisper of the Sounds, and very sensitive to the building noise of the city of Invercargill.
Until the next time
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