I thought I had already shared photos of Milford Sound, but it looks like I didn’t. Since it’s a bit too much to add to the Hollyford Track report you’ll see next Friday, it looks like it will get a post all of it’s own!
Milford Sound wasn’t really a destination for us, but we did end up passing through three times—once at each end of the Hollyford Track in January, and again last week at the end of the Milford Track. I’m mixing in photos from each occasion.
The drive to Milford Sound--a 2-hour dead-end road from Te Anau--has plenty of great scenery, but it reaches it's peak as you near the pass through the coastal mountains.
|There's a pull-out on the road, just so every car-load of tourists can take this picture. We were no exception.|
|Waiting for the tunnel|
|Glaciers and permanent snowfields up high feed the falls we saw on our sunny days.|
Another standard form of entertainment is the kea, the world's only alpine parrot, and claimed to be the world's smartest bird. They certainly have the curiosity of an intelligent animal, and can do serious damage to a car or a backpack (or carry off a single boot--we learned to tie boots together when drying them outside overnight, as a linked pair is too heavy for a kea). Vaguely grey-green-brown on top, there is a startling patch of orange visible under the wings when they fly.
|This kea was exploring the cars in the parking area by the tunnel very thoroughly. It seems to be holding some rubber bit it may have pulled off the bottom of a victim.|
After seeing the kea at the pass, the sign at the coffee shop in Milford Sound didn't seem so unreasonable:
The west end of the tunnel is at the base of an even more impressive cliff. You can't see the top here, but you can probably tell why they didn't build the road over it!
|Homer Tunnel, west end. The tunnel slopes downward to the west, by what was at the time, at least, an unprecedented degree. The avalanche shed pictured protects the opening.|
Before we reached the sound we had to stop another time or two, including at The Chasm, which was fairly impossible to photograph, but gave me this portrait of the artist and several other tourists.
We reached Milford Sound in time to check into our dorm at the Milford Lodge (it's a place to sleep, sort of. The main recommendation is that it's there), and then see the Sound in the last light of the afternoon.
|Mitre Peak (just left of center) is the iconic emblem of Milford Sound, rising 5000' straight out of the water. It is, as you can see here, actually just the chopped-off end of a long ridge. The glacier that formed Milford Sound ground away the rest.|
After our look around, we made dinner in the communal kitchen at the lodge/campground. We did try to eat well!
In the mornings, the light is better!
There are, of course, many ways to see the area, most of them also excellent ways to extract money from tourists. Boat tours are very popular, with most of the participants bused in from Te Anau or even Queenstown, about 6 hours away. You can also rent a kayak.
Our "boat tour" was a 5-minute ride from the end of the Milford Track to the tour boat terminal on a little bitty boat with, alas, plastic side-screens that ruined the views.
|Still Mitre Peak dominating the scene.|
|The picture looks a little drunken because hey--small plane!|
Photos and text Copyright Rebecca M. Douglass. Please do not use without permission. Linkbacks always appreciated.