Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand

In November, 2004 Mel and I embarked on a trip around the Pacific. First stop was New Zealand. We landed in Auckland (on the North Island), cleared customs and immigration and caught a flight to Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu in South Island. The approach through mountain passes and cols had my palms sweating! Seeing a plane going the other direction immediately below us did not help matters. Mel appreciated the sheep grazing on the airport fields.

We rented a car (driving on the left is exciting) and left the next day for Te Anau, gateway to Milford Sound. We did not find anyplace to stay that we really liked there, so we went south to Manapouri. We found a wonderful place to stay there with Rennie and Mary and their Jack Russel terrier, Biddy – the subject of another post. We stayed with them two nights and spent the day in the middle driving to Milford Sound.

The mountains, streams, rivers, valleys and lakes of the Southern Alps in this region are indescribably beautiful – sometime literally breathtaking. Here are some pictures from our drive to the sound and back that day:

Glacial Valley on the route to Milford Sound

View of the glacial valley en route to Milford sound from Te Anau. Leave early and beat all of the tourist buses which take people there from Queenstown!

Peaks in the mist enroute to Milford Sound

At a pass in the mountains we stopped for a look. The misty clouds and strong Spring-time sun produced stunning views.

Mel and Steve enroute to Milford Sound

Needed a pic of us and our car!

Milford Sound

Milford Sound. This is taken from a short walk one can go on from road’s end. There are good facilities there including a hotel and restaurant – it would be a nice place to linger and watch the sun go down. Big thing to do from here is to purchase a boat trip out into the sound. We did not do that as we had a long trip ahead of us and were very budget conscious. But we probably should have done it, especially on a brilliant day such as this one was…

Mel and Steve at Milford Sound

Pic of us at Milford Sound. There were many, many small (sand?) flies there and we learned the ‘Milford Wave’.

Milford Sound

Another view of the sound from a short walk we took.

Waterfalls in the Souther Alps near Milford Sound

Driving back over (and through – there is a tunnel through the mountains the road goes through) the mountains we were just amazed at the water. November is equivalent to March in the northern hemisphere, and the snow melt had begun in earnest. Waterfalls everywhere you looked!

Cirque on the Eastern side of tunnel to Milford Sound

Just on the eastern side of the tunnel we stopped for a look at the cirque. These are mighty mountains.

We had an extraordinary day. Rarely, we were told, is the weather this good. We were able to go on two or three small hikes in shirtsleeves, finding great views, much water in rivers and streams, and lush vegetation with moss and ferns growing in the Beech forest.

We love the South Island of New Zealand and found ourselves dreaming of lingering (or living) there.

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