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Published: March 25th 2018
Today we have booked a cruise round Milford Sound. To reach the sound (which is actually a fjord) we have a 70 mile drive through the mountains - literally, as it includes a 1200 metre mountain tunnel.
According to my guide book, sometimes the destination is the journey. And it is indeed a spectacular drive surrounded by mountains, lakes and waterfalls.
We stop at Mirror Lakes where you can see the reflection of the mountains in the still water. The ducks haven’t read the script and their diving means the water is somewhat more rippled than in the brochure pictures, which obviously involved some serious duck scaring before shooting any photos.
After 60 miles comes the Homer Tunnel, hewn through the mountain. On the other side of the mountain it is raining. Our cruise company has told us how much time to allow for the journey. It is a huge overestimation and we arrive an hour early. We ponder whether to wait in the terminal building or take a walk along the boardwalk and get soaked. We opt for a short walk and a long wait. We are surrounded by clouds so there’s not much to see anyway.
By the time our cruise departs, the rain has abated and the cloud has lifted slightly. The boat sails the length of the fjord, does a U turn in the Tasman Sea and returns along the Fjord. The mountains rise almost vertically on either side, cloud hangs around their summits and there are dozens of waterfalls cascading down the rocks.
An added bonus on our return, we see a mother seal nursing a new born pup. Now for the captain’s party trick. He rotates the boat through 90 degrees and drives headfirst into a waterfall. This leaves a lot of soaked Chinese people on deck. Whether they wanted to get wet or just didn’t understand the announcement, I’m not sure.
Once ashore we return to Te Anau stopping at a couple of points of interest along the way. First, the Chasm, a huge circular hole in the rock caused by the force of the waterfall running into it. Then the Homer Tunnel, a huge circular hole in the rock caused by men with pick axes.
At the tunnel entrance we find a kea, a large flightless alpine parrot. We also spot another flightless bird, a weka.
It has been a good day and we return to Te Anau tired but happy.
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