Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NZ Day 9 - Milford Sound

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Panorama of Milford Sound looking northwest. Mitre Peak (right background) rises 1,692 metres above the sound.

  • The plan of the day was to drive up north to Milford Sound, which would take us about two hours. It was a foggy morning, and there were frost on the grass and trees along the way. Saw cows grazing on the frosted grass, and Mich commented that it was like the cow was eating ice cream haha!
  • Spotted some sheep along the way, but later realised that they were not sheep but just white stones lol! Waved to a car that passed by during one of our stop.
  • Stopped at the entrance of Homer Tunnel to take some photos of the snowy mountain area. The interesting thing about this tunnel is that the tunnel walls remain unlined granite, and runs at approximately a 1:10 gradient down to the western portal. The car that I waved earlier made a stop there as well, and just before they leave the place, the two ladies waved to me haha!
  • Before reaching Milford Sound, wandered through a lush forest area that headed towards a deep chasm where fast, rushing water flowed through. There were also many ferns and unique rocks formations.
  • Arrived at Milford Sound at eleven in the morning and went to confirm our cruise we was gonna take. Just a quickie, Milford Sound is a fjord in the south west of New Zealand's South Island, and has been judged the world's top travel destination in an international survey. It is acclaimed as New Zealand's most famous tourist destination.
  • Went to wait at the jetty a bit earlier than the boarding time, as we noticed most of the tourists were mostly Asians. We all know Asians are kinda kiasu, so if we don't get up onto the boat early, we might not get a good seat on the boat. When the gate was finally open, we were the first two people to board the boat. That shows how kiasu we were haha!
  • Milford Sound is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 metres or more on either side. Lush rain forests cling precariously to these cliffs, while seals, penguins, and dolphins frequent the waters. 
  • The boat toured the Sound, passing the deep water basin and then headed towards the Tasman Sea. The wind was blowing so strongly and it was so cold that my fingers turned numb. Couldn't even press the camera's shutter properly!
  • When we reached the halfway point of the cruise, we spotted wild dolphins! Friendly dolphins, which swam next to the boat and they got quite close to the boat. Mich was so excited to see those papa, mummy and baby dolphins. Also saw several beautiful waterfalls, and many "temporary waterfalls" that appear only when snow melts.
  • On the way back, saw some seals lying lazily on nearby rocks and wild birds diving for fish. Again, the wonders of off-peak New Zealand meant that the boat wasn't overly crowded and everything seemed very relaxed.
  • On our drive back to Te Anau, stopped at a lookout area and was greeted by a kea, a large species of parrot usually found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island. It hopped onto our front mirror and we didn't dare to get down from the car until it got down haha!
  • Made another couple of stops at the Mirror Lake and Eglington Valley view point, a valley filled with golden-coloured grass, giving this place a stunning piece of scenery. Mich wanted to stop at the valley and pose with the signboard as her consultant's name's Eglington haha!
  • Had nothing much to do for the evening, so drove to Lake Manapouri. Wanted to take the rowboat but it was closed already by the time we reached there. Just take a short walk along the shore and returned to Te Anau.
  • Had dinner and took some rest before hitting for bed, as it would be a long drive on the next day to Dunedin.

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