Piopiotahi (Milford Sound)

March 18, 2009

18032009177 Fiordland is sliced by numerous deeply recessed sounds, technically fiords and since 1986 it is one of the 300 World Heritage Areas because of its uniqueness that must be preserved. The famous Milford Track has been described as one of the finest in the world, pity that was fully booked. So we decided that as we could not walk it, we will cruise it, and given the fantastic day we had yesterday, we expected the same for today, against all forecasted predictions. So up again at 7.00 am after a noisy night with a male big deer shouting out loud for a female to love him. And shit, it was raining!! So we started the Milford highway (a NZ highway is basically a sealed road with some 2-10 one lane bridges or unmarked areas of the road enough for a car). As the lonely planet said, the 119 km road is a top road trip for sheer scenic wonder, and I think that by now we have gone through definitely all the “one of the beast road trips in NZ”. But I confess that this one is for me, so far the best one. The trip takes 2 hours, but given my tendency to stop everywhere with a tourist sign post and something to read, and dani’s tendency to stop everywhere he could take a good photo, it took us more than 3 hours and this sprinting in all the spots to visit, overtaking slow Japanese tourist on the left, upssssss! We stop at Mirror lakes and could not quite understand what was the beauty about it, but it was raining heavily, as on the way back we stopped ans admired the reflection of the mountains in the lake. We continued our way stopping here and there to read the signs and take more photographs, so far 2000 until we reached the Divide, the lowest pass in the southern alps. DTG_7586 And there we should thank the rain, as wherever you look, we could only see waterfalls, one bigger than the following one, all different, all special, all amazing. I had read that it rains 7 meters ( not cm or mm) per year, or approx 180 day a year. But that makes water cascade everywhere and the small streams become raging torrents. It was so beautiful, and so wet, I think my trousers got completely wet and then dried ( thanks North Face for the techno-fabric) a minimum of 4 times. And just 18 km before Milford, the Homer Tunnel, surrounded by a spectacular high walled, ice-carved amphitheater crowned by a glacier. After the 1200 m long tunnel, the fabulous Cleddau Valley with yet even more waterfalls emerging from every possible place. Afterwards, Pop’s views, with zero visibility thanks to the rain, but we did stop on the way back to see the Routeburn track, the Hollyford river and the divide. The last stop was the Chasm walk, ( a 30 min for tourist or 12 min for sprinters) where the forest cloacked cleddau river plunges through a narrow chasm, crating deep falls and eroded rocks. The noise and the strength of the water beating the rocks was quite scary. And then we arrived at Milford, 10 minutes before the expecting reporting time by the company counter. Before getting out of the car, we bathed ourselves with the repellent roll-on we bought yesterday in the pharmacy ( as I forgot ours in the restaurant in Kinloch and got two bites in my nose and cheek, plus uncountable numbers in my legs and ankles). As soon as we were out, we were welcomed by a thousand sandflies flying around trying to find a spot of our skin without the repellent, and they got dani’s ankles again as he forgot to apply the roll on there. Milford sound is stunning, with dark waters out of which raise rocky cliffs with beech forest. DTG_7620 The supernice photos that you might see in the blog is dani exporting them from the nikon…. not the mobile phone… And just in front of the port Mitre Peak which is the highest mountain raising directly from the sea. The cruise is amazing, and I must say that probably is more spectacular with rain, as the waterfalls double in size and number. The whole 90 minutes cruise was heavily raining, getting very wet to film short videos and take photos of the waterfalls. And then as soon as we got back to the wharf, sun shining!! Well we had it all, rain with fantastic waterfalls and sun for the beautiful photos. We had lunch at the only possible place in town, the Blue Duck cafe, the eggplant (anyone, difference with aubergine??) soup and the samosas were quite good. Well, we went back for another 3 hours and a half trip with numerous stops and short nature walks to see rivers, waterfalls , beech forest… We got back to our lodge and cooked a variation of the menu, which is regularly either pasta and salad (lettuce and grape tomatoes) or fantastic NZ beef and salad. We enjoyed very much the curry chicken brochettes, with thick ham and garlic pita bread. The two constants of the dinner equation remain the same to keep it healthy: salad and red NZ wine!

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