Milford Sound, South Island

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mitre Peak in Milford Sound
The main reason I even flew as far south as Queenstown was because when I Googled New Zealand, photos of Milford Sound came up, and I was sold. The Fiordland National Park is full of beautiful nooks and crannies, including Milford and Doubtful Sounds, which aren’t sounds at all (created by river erosion), but fiords (carved by glaciers).

Traveling solo, I couldn’t possibly have gone alone, so for my time in Queenstown, I signed up for a bunch of day tours. My first one was to Milford Sound with InterCity Bus/Great Sights NZ. I could not recommend this tour any more.

Our driver was perfect … I can’t remember his name now (a pity, because he was so great … John? Paul?), but he was a strawberry blond-haired guy in his early 40s or so. Very tactful and sensitive to the group, and very, very welcoming in addition to being informative.

They say the drive between Queenstown and Milford Sound (or Te Anau and Milford Sound) is half the beauty of the trip altogether, and they are absolutely right. He made a bunch of photo stops along the way, and let us sleep when we boarded (at about 7:10am). The entire trip lasted about 12 hours, but it was completely worth it. You have the option of flying back from Milford Sound to Queenstown, but I’m not into those little helicopters, so I didn’t even bother considering it.

Highlights of this trip for me were the drive down (Mirror Lakes, especially) and seeing seals.

I think this is Lake Te Anau, which would make it the second-largest lake in New Zealand.

Our first photo stop, Eglinton Valley

The second one was Mirror Lakes, which was absolutely stunning:

We took a 15 minute "bush walk" and here are some of the things I saw:

A kea bird approached us at the bus ... apparently these are somewhat rare.
It's a type of parrot.

Photos from the 1.5-hour cruise through Milford Sound:

I was blessed with incredible weather my entire time in the South Island,
where it is said to rain more often than not. Milford Sound is said to be the
wettest inhabited place in New Zealand, and one of the wettest in the world.

I believe this was the site of a tree avalanche, which occurred when just
one tree fell and caused nearly all the trees before it to uproot and fall over.

I think this is where Milford Sound meets the Tasman Sea, and where we turned around.

Can you spot the seals?

Here's one of 'em!

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