Adventuring in New Zealand – part the 15th (Saturday)
Out of all the bus rides I’ve taken in all the countries I’ve visited, this is hands down the most scenic. And yes, that includes the MBTA’s 39 route.
So stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but I watched the sunrise surrounded by snow capped mountains.
This part of the Southern Alps is on the road from Queenstown to Te Anau (possibly pronounced Tee Ay-nu but probably not. My Maori needs some work. )
We had some rain, but only the most picturesque clouds:
I have a ton of photos of mountains through the window of a moving bus (many with my seatmate’s face in the corner, but I won’t bother you with those. Instead I’ll show you what happened after the clouds settled into a flat layer by the time we reached one of our brief scenic lookouts after Te Anau.
This was called the mirror lakes. I have no idea why. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, the water more still, the sky more blue, etc. etc.
Ok. I’ll show you another photo from the moving bus:
We stopped at a waterfall, drank glacial runoff (which was well timed as I was out of water), walked through a rainforest, and drove through a 1.3km one lane tunnel that had been blasted through a mountain over the course of 20 years. Cool right? And that was just the bus ride there.
Where is there, you ask?
Milford Sound. Rudyard Kipling described it as the 8th wonder of the world, but I don’t know which list he was augmenting. Milford Sound is actually a fjord* (as are all the other “sounds” on the south end of the South Island). To fix the error in naming, the government named the national park the Fiordlands, neglecting to look up how to spell fjord. They are blaming autocorrect, but I just think they are embarrassed.
Incidentally, Somes Sound on Mount Desert Island is also misnamed, but it is technically a fjard, or mini-fjord.
So after being dropped off at Milford Lodge, I walked over to the Sound to see first hand New Zealand ‘s most photographed mountain – Mitre Peak.
On the way I met the local inhabitants- sandflies. I wanted to hang out until sunset, but the bugs were killing me and I had forgotten a torch. I wasn’t too worried about the walk home – my phone has a flashlight app, but the bugs were a problem.
I was walking around trying to decide what to do, when I saw a guy and his son all set up with tripods and wide angle lenses. I asked if the view was better where they were and we started chatting. He offered me some bug spray and a ride home after the sunset since they were also staying at the lodge.
While there were too many clouds for a spectacular sunset, the location more than made up for it.
Welcome to Milford Sound.**
*Fjords are formed by glaciers and sounds are carved out by rivers.
**No filters were used in the making of this blog post.