Traveler's Log Sunday, November 20, 2016
Queenstown to Milford Sound
Rise and shine people. It's 530 a.m. Sunday morning and our wake up call just rang. This trip is not for light weights. Early mornings, late nights, long bus rides and amazing scenery. Ahhh, New Zealand.
Dinner Saturday night was yummy but a little long. We met all our travelers for our 11 day journey: 4-Nancys, 3-4 Susans/Suzannes , 2-Klauses; it's quite a crew. A late bedtime and early wake up call has us a little bleary eyed.
We make our way to breakfast and I order poached eggs with smoked salmon. It was REALLY good.
A quick refresh in the room and we're on the bus at 7:30 a.m. to make our way to Milford Sound. New Zealand is like Vermont in many ways: mountains, rivers, windy roads and "You can't get there from here!" The trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound would take one hour as the "crow flies" but as you can't drive over or through the mountains it takes four hours to get to the west coast.
We meet Patrick our South Island Bus driver from Oceania Bus company. The West Coast drive of New Zealand is rated one of the top five scenic coastal drives.
Our Guide Erica helps us pass the time with some language lessons-we begin to learn rudimentary Maori and some background on NZ. The motto of NZ is 100% Pure; it's an under populated country-their largest city has about 1 million people.
This part of NZ had a gold rush boom in the 1860s, Patrick explains as we pass through Devils Staircase. We have to travel south on Rte 6 then west and north on Rte 94 to get around the lake and the mountain range.
We make a few stops for comfort and photos along the way.
Next stop along the Milford Road is at The Mirror Lake. One a calm day, it perfectly reflects the Earl Mountain
We wait our turn at the Homer Tunnel, which took nearly 20 years to complete. It's carved through solid granite! From mouth to mouth it measures 1270 metres.
We also get our first glimpse of the Kea, the large alpine parrot.
We get some fresh air on the 20 minute walk that leads to The Chasm - a spectacular waterfall where the Cleddau River has scoured its way through solid rock. Nature imitating art.
We also learn about critters that were introduced to New Zealand that have become invasive species they are desperately trying to get rid of: rabbits, possums, stoats. The Department of Conservation is trying to save the native plants and animals-they have quite a battle ahead of them. They have a forest poisoning camapign going on and some folks are against it. We see STOP 1080 signs along the road.
Kiwis have found a way to help rid the island of possum-mix the fur with sheep wool and sell it. Merino Mink/Silk is said to be extremely warm and some what water resistant.
Along the way we learn that Milford Sound is actually a Fiord. Sounds are created by water flow and fiords are created by glacial movement. So it should be Milford Fiord, in fact the area is called Fiordland. We also learn that this area gets on average 22 FEET of rain each year.
We board the Milford Monarch at 1:45 p.m. for our cruise to the Tasman Sea.
Looking back on the entire trip to NZ, Milford Sound has to be my most favorite trip. The sights were AMAZING!!
The 90 minute ride was just magical.
After a stop back in Te Anau, we're back on the bus. Erica has brought along the movie "The World's Fastest Indian" for us to watch on the ride back to Queenstown. It's a story about New Zealander, Burt Munro (1899-1978) from Invercargill at the south end of New Zealand and his quest to set a land speed record with his rebuilt 1920 Indian motorcycle. It was really good. I highly recommend it!
More images from Queenstown to Milford Sound: Click Here
Some Background Info:
Getting to Milford Sound
The Chasm Walk
The Milford Road
We have a free day Monday in Queenstown, but mostly it's time to catch up on some much needed sleep.
The adventure continues....
Day 1 and 2-Travel Days to New Zealand
Day 3 Queenstown
Day 4 Milford Sound
Day 5 Queenstown
Day 6 Fox Glacier
Day 7 Hokitika
Day 8 Nelson
Day 9 Nelson, Abel Tasman Park
Day 10 Wellington
Day 11 Wellington
Day 12 Rotorua
Day 13 Rotorua
Day 14 Auckland
Day 15 Auckland and departure