|Cruising along Milford Sound.
January 18, 2006
Stunning. Magical. Mystical.
These are just a few words (corny as they may be) that describes what I saw today…
I had completely written off coming down to Milford Sound up until a few days ago.
Some of the reasons:
- To do a day trip would be very rushed and tiring.
- Day trips are pretty darn expensive.
- It is known for being a very rainy area. Would I enjoy the boat ride and scenery while trying to block out the fact that water
was pouring down on me?
It was only when talking to my buddy Ronen in Queenstown that I decided to change my mind. He absolutely loved it. That wasn’
t the point where I changed my mind. It was when I learned that he did it completely independent of some tour company. It
sounded pretty easy and since I have a car at my disposal, I thought ‘Why wouldn’t I go?’
I still had my questions. Was it worth all of the driving to go see even if I wasn’t going to be able to be there for a full day (as I
would have to get in during the evening and leave the next morning due to time constraints)? He said it was. He also said
something else that made perfect sense: “I would rather regret doing something than regret not doing it.”
It was decided: I was definitely going to Milford Sound.
After I dropped Jim off at the airport, I was on my way…
After a brief lunch stop in Te Anau it was time for the 120-kilometer scenic portion of the drive. The drive provided a
smorgasbord of streams, lakes, bridges and waterfalls. With all of these ‘distractions’, I couldn’t believe it when I saw the sign that
read ‘Milford Sound’. Was it possible that I was already here? Apparently, it was. Where did the time go? It’s coming back to me
that I did do an awful lot of looking to the left and to the right while driving. I guess I might have done a lot more than I realized.
Probably not the wisest thing – but a solo traveler who is driving by herself really doesn’t have too many other options.
Before I even stopped at the lodge to check-in, I drove down to ‘The Sound’ (I just coined that term right now) to check it out. It
was simply stunning. It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly made me so fixated on what I was looking at. Maybe it was that
here I was…at a place so many people in the world have heard about…yet I was the only person there. I had it to myself. I guess
it’s not so hard after all to figure out why I was in such amazement.
It was hard to get a good night’s sleep last night between the snoring guys in my room and feeling like sandflies were attacking
me. I still have no idea if they actually were but because this area is known to be a breeding ground for these little critters, I kept
feeling like they found their way into my sheets.
This morning I hopped on my 1 ½ hour boat ride through the Milford Sound that goes as far as the Tasman Sea. For once I can
say the weather gods in New Zealand were on my side. This is an area that sees 22 feet (yes, I said feet) of rain each year. As luck
would have it, today was a rare day when there was no rain.
We cruised through the calm waters. Nobody seemed able to peel their eyes away from the dramatic mountains that we were
passing. Some of these mountains were snow-capped; others had waterfalls cascading down from them. One area even had a
small colony of seals at the base. Throughout the entire ride, there were layers of fog that were suspended in mid-air giving it
more of that mystical feeling.
For me, 1½ hours on the boat was more than enough. I left Milford Sound feeling really good that I made the trip down.
View from the boat jetty.
The fog resting in mid-air.