Day 13 Thursday 27 February – Te Anau, Milford Sound

We left Queenstown this morning just before 7.00am and watched the sun come up over The Remarkables as we drove along beside Lake Wakatipu.  One of the places we drove through was Garston, which is New Zealand’s most inland town – interestingly, 90% of all New Zealanders live within 6 km of the ocean and no town is more than 160km away from the ocean.

We drove beside the Eyre Mountains, which were a beautiful golden colour as the sun lit up the mountain and travelled through patchwork-like farming communities – vegetables, cattle and sheep. We could see a wind farm in the distance near Mossburn and three large white quartz seams on the side of Mt Takatimu.

We stopped at Te Anau for morning tea and were able to buy some lunch to save time and money when we got to Milford Sound.  While we were doing that, Malcolm and Laurie went to our hotel and dropped our bags off as we were coming back to Te Anau to stay the night.  Te Anau means “The Cave” and is very apt because there is a glow-worm cave here.

We continued our journey, driving along beside Lake Te Anau, which is 60 km long.  By then, the weather had started to change and it was quite overcast with low cloud, so we didn’t see it at it s best.

As we drove along, we could see the beautiful Eglington Valley and the Upukerara River and then we entered the Fjordland National Park where our scenery changed to a thick forest.  We stopped for a photo opportunity at a pretty little spot called Mirror Lakes and we got out of the coach and walked arund the boardwalk set amongst the trees next to the lake.

We travelled up the mountain range to the Homer Tunnel, which is an unlined 1,219metre tunnel cut through the mountain, giving access to Milford Sound.

We wound our way down the other side of the mountain, stopping at The Chasm, where we had a 15 minute walk in the forest to the Upper Falls, where the Cleddau River plunges through a narrow chasm 22metres deep.  The force of the water has created the most amazing shapes in the huge rocks, some of which had holes in them. Words can’t do justice to this incredible Chasm – our photos in the gallery will give some idea.

We finally arrived at Milford Sound and boarded the Milford Sovereign for our 1½ hour cruise.  Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1200 metres or more.  Our cruise took us close to the cliffs along the southern edge, stopping and turning around so that everyone had a view of the points of interest.  We cruised along the whole length and out into the Tasman Sea, before turning around and heading back along the Northern edge. The heavy overcast conditions and low cloud limited our ability to see the top of most of the mountains and also made our photos look drab and lacking colour – very disappointing.

The captain nosed the boat into the cliff face so that we all had an amazing view of the Fairy Falls and as we continued around the Sound, we saw a waterfall that was being blown upwards – amazing site. At times, after heavy rain, many hundreds of temporary waterfalls can be seen running down the steep sided rock faces that line the fjord.  As we approached Stirling Falls, the captain slowed down and moved in close so that we could get great views of this big waterfall cascading 155 metres down the cliff face, spraying those of us who had ventured out onto open decks to take photos – fantastic!

We saw some seals basking on a rock and we were able to get some photos of them before returning to the wharf just in time because it had started to rain.

We made our way back to our hotel in Te Anau and were delighted to see that it is set up like an olden days village. Each room has a shop front façade with different names on them – Maria and Dennis are in the Apothecary for Medicines and Perfumes (what a coincidence!) and we are in the New England Dentist.  Some of the others are Ironmonger, Dressmaker, Diggers Bank & Deposit and Cabinet & Butter Churn Maker.

We topped off our lovely day with a delicious dinner served by very friendly and cheerful staff.

3 Responses to “Day 13 Thursday 27 February – Te Anau, Milford Sound”

  1. Janet says:

    I love the shop front rooms – what a cute idea 🙂

  2. Katharine says:

    You being in the dentist is kinda funny too given Dad’s current predicament!

  3. sandy says:

    We thought exactly the same thing Katharine!!! 🙂

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