The drive from Queenstown to Milford was one of my more ‘interesting’ ones with several sleet and snow storms to pass through – nothing major but enough to make it obvious it was getting closer to winter. The hilltops were all covered in snow.
(Picture : kids and a waterfall’s rainbow) Driving along the valley to Milford was a nice drive, however it didn’t get mega impressive until I passed through the Homer Tunnel – the most handcrafted feeling tunner I’ve ever passed through. By this time the sun was out and it was like another world opened up at the other side with glaciers all around the hilltops and impressive karts and cliffs.
(Picture : Miltre Peak on Milford Sound)Unfortunately the Mitre Peak on Milford is so talked up it was a bit of an anti climax to see it, like too many things nowadays with the advent of all the guidebooks, pamphlets and websites hyping everything up, as times goes on the next ‘amazing unique view’ has so many other ‘amazing unique views’ to beat. Yes it’s maybe a bit of a spoilt view, but a realistic one.
(Picture : boat next to a waterfall’s spray) However….the trip on Milford was worth doing, if not a little short. We were taken out on the Milford Wanderer, but in under two hours we had moored up for the night and took off in groups on the speedboat or kayaks to look around Harrison Bay. Within minutes we had the token bottlenose dolphins acting up around the ship which always guarantees everyone to be ooo-ing and aaaah-ing – including me.
One of the things I found amazing was that it was pitch black everywhere outside once the moon went down and the clouds came out. I ended up socialising with a couple of English lads, and and English and American girl. The English girl and I had some interesting chats about travel and volunteering, and it turns out she had been a researcher on The Best of Borat and produced or directed Location, Location, Location and Grand Designs, amongst umpteen other things. This is one thing I’ll miss the most when I head homeward – not meeting all these people from different backgrounds with amazing stories from amazing places.
The morning on Milford was great heading out to the Tasman sea, and nosing the front of the ship up to the waterfalls and sheer rockfaces. The guides were really informative telling us about the history, wildlife and plantlife, including stories of the numerous tree avalanches that occur. Apparently the area has around four earthquakes every hour (or was that every day?), but not detectable by humans.
Would I do it again? Well…. no.
If I did it again I’d dive in Milford Sound and cruise and kayak in Doubtful Sound – far bigger and more remote. I was really keen to dive in Milford as there is a 4m layer of tannin stained dark water on the top which means all the sealife grows up to 80 metres shallower than normal meaning a pretty unique divesite. (Un?)fortunately my wallet talked some sense into me as the dives involved a 5 hour boat trip as well. If only I’d known that beforehand……