Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Zealand Day 12 : Milford Sound

Day 12 : Saturday, 17 September 2011
My day started early in the morning. We were scheduled to catch a bus from Queenstown to Milford Sound today, so it will be a whole day journey Queenstown - Milford Sound - Queenstown. I didn't order any lunch on board the boat, as I decided to cook nasi goreng for our lunch. So I woke up at 5:30am, cooked, get ready, ate breakfast and by 7:20am we were already in front of Copthorne Hotel waiting for the Great Sight bus which was scheduled to pick us up at 7:35am.

Mr D insisted on booking a bus instead of driving to Milford Sound, as he wanted to enjoy the scenery along the Fjordland without having to drive. We booked Great Sight bus coupled with Southern Discovery cruise at the price of NZD226 per pax. Turn out it was a great choice, as the bus driver, Dion, shared a lot of his knowledge about the places, history and Fiordland along the journey.

We reached Te Anau at about 10am, and was given some time to have coffee and loo break while picking up the other passengers from Te Anau. Can't remember the name of the cafe where we stopped at, but the souvenirs sold here is much cheaper than the one sold at DF Souvenir in Queenstown.

At the beginning of the journey, the scenery was just a normal New Zealand's beauty, it was only after we started to go through the National Park that the real beauty stands out. Dion kept on stressing that this is what he calls "world class scenery". This National Park is a World Heritage site and is home for Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sound. Though it was drizzling that day, the view was still breathtaking.

Dion stopped by and let us enjoy the beautiful scenery, as and when we reached the beautiful spots. Mirror Lakes is one of them. The lake reflects its beautiful surrounding which includes Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, that's how it got its name. 

Going through the National Park in the 5-star Great Sight luxury coach was simply amazing, as the coach has glass roof top and huge glass window enabling us to view the scenery even without coming out from the coach.

We were there in early spring and were told that avalanche cases are common around this time of the year. There are times when the road to Milford Sound is closed due to this avalanches. Even along the way, we saw 3-4 minor avalanches which we can see from on board the coach, but it was minor enough it didn't warrant for any road closure.

The weather was quite dim that day, snow was falling lightly covering some places along the way. I was worry, thinking about how the weather will be while we are on board the cruise. I was hoping for it to be clear just so we can see the scenery better, but it didn't look like it will be then.

We also stopped by at The Chasm, a spot along Cleddau River where the water carves through the rocks creating amazing sculptures [which I failed to capture properly in the picture]. We had to walk about 10 minutes into the forest where we can see the beautiful sculptures at certain point. We can also meet this cute bird, the Kea bird, the large alpine parrot species. This Kea bird used to be killed because it is a threat to the sheep farming community as its diet includes carrion, but have received protection ever since 1986. Mr D was so interested with the curious Kea, that he spent some time approaching them.

We reached Milford Sound, or Piopiotahi in Maori, in time to board the 1hr 45minutes Scenic Cruise using Southern Discovery cruise. As soon as we board the cruise, buffet lunch was served and those who ordered their bento were given theirs and they started eating. So we quickly ate our nasi goreng because we didn't want to waste even a single moment while we were on board the cruise.

Milford Sound, or Piopiotahi, is dubbed the 8th wonder of the world. The weather was still dim, but we enjoyed it anyway. It was raining then, not surprisingly, as it rains 182 days in a year in Milford Sound, making it the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand. Though we had to fight with the rain, we decided not to continue sitting in the lounge but went up on the deck where the view was better. We prepared ourselves earlier by wearing waterproof winter cloth which we specifically wear in Milford. It was freezing though, with the wind and all.. but who cares!

The fjord was formed by the glaciers forcing through the land to form the U-shaped valley. There are a number of waterfalls around, and at times the captain simply brought the boat very near to the fall that whoever was outside will be wet with the water.

We also enjoyed the wild species of penguins and seals lazying around on top of the rocks. With our cheapo camera, Mr D tried very hard to capture the penguin live as that's what my stepdaughter requested.

Apart from the penguins and seals, we also enjoyed the smart dolphins who followed the boat along the way. The captain told us that the dolphin enjoyed the water flow created by the boat and often caught playing around. There were many of them swimming and jumping around, but it was so hard to capture using camera so we recorded the video instead.

The 1hr 45minutes scenic cruise was simply amazing. Though the weather was not at its best, we still enjoyed the journey. I will sure come again in 2012, insyaallah. This time I hope the weather will be better. It was quite a long and tiring journey, I was sleeping in the coach along the way home and Dion didn't shower us with a lot of knowledge the way he did on the way to go Milford, perhaps to give us time to rest. There is actually an option to fly back and enjoy the scenery from top, but it was so expensive we didn't continue with that. It would have been better if we can get that opportunity.. never mind.. next time.

Next : The final day...

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