Just over ten years ago, I didn't have enough time to make it down to this bucket list world wonder - Milford Sound. And now, I've arrived!
Pulling into the picturesque town of Te Anau after dark, I didn't know what to expect this morning. It was chilly, OK, it was snowing. But the flakes stopped falling right as I walked out my door to the bus stop and the clouds parted to reveal that I was at the foot of some 2,000 meter glacially carved mountain peaks. It was physically jaw-dropping! It was just below freezing, and I was way below freezing, but the excitement of finally seeing Milford Sound today kept me hyper and heated! I almost missed my bus, even though I was standing in front of it for ten minutes, because I didn't read the fine print on my ticket. But thankfully Paul, our driver and tour guide, stepped out to ask if I was looking for InterCity and pointed me towards the Awesome Tour bus for the day.
I was the only pickup in Te Anau, as the rest of the bus had come from a couple of hours away. We barely pulled out
of the parking spot and Paul had cracked some jokes and had me laughing. The busses are like a Mexico bus with giant comfortable seats and the driver has a huge station of controls. Paul also had a video screen that he used to show us a few wildlife photos and the best video of the arctic parrots rearranging the traffic cones outside the tunnel! We spent the entire day driving into the Fjordland National Park and stopping at each of the lookout points to learn and snap selfies of course. There were glaciers so high up a mountain you had to look through the rooftop window to see it! The weather was superb as we were driving in and out of sun, snowstorms, and clouds. Each view was more stunning than the one before with waterfalls abundant, sharp edges and impressive height in every direction, and lakes, rivers, plains, more waterfalls .... After hours we go through the tunnel into the Canyon of Waterfalls were there is just water falling in small streams everywhere you look. And it's snowing just occasional ginormous flakes of snow. As we descend into the fjord of Milford Sound, the skies clear and the
sun starts to shine!
We got on a charter boat with people from a few other busses and took the ferry ride of a lifetime! The fjord was formed when a glacier retreated from the V-shaped canyon it created, and now it's been filled in with sea water. Tasman Sea water. Again, I found myself in an actual jaw-dropping scene, for over an hour. I said Wow, way too many times. Wow. One of the places were the word AWE was created. Awe - some. Awe, wonder, disbelief, beauty!!!! We were lucky enough to have the same unpredictable weather on the boat so we went through sun, rainbows, rain, sleet, snow, and round about the cycle a few timeS! The boat when through the entire fjord, out to the Tasman Sea, and back. I kept turning in circles, where to look!?! Each direction, a different lighting, backdrop, dramatic peaks, snow-covered, snowing on it, oh wow, there's a glacier up there!
We also got up under one of those glacial waterfalls! My friend from Trinidad was like, that felt nothing like a Caribbean waterfall! Not only was it cold, but it fell from so high and wide that it
was more of a misting and spray and all over the front of the boat!
Standing on that boat, I remembered when I left New Zealand ten years ago. It was one of the first times I thought, I need to come back here because I have more to see. In particular, Milford Sound! And it was even more beautiful than I could have imagined - one of those places that you've seen in pictures, and you know it's going to amaze, but in real life, it's even better than you ever dreamed. The place, and the feeling. Making the connections, and completing that circle.
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