Another very early start today, as we have to make our way to Milford Sound (approx. 5 hour drive), for our early afternoon Nature Cruise with Real Journeys. Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) is not the largest, but the most popular of the Fiordland National Park sounds. A "must do". With it's steep flanks, numerous waterfalls and the majestic Mitre Peak (Rahotu - 1682 m) it promises to be a wonderfull experience. After our Nature Cruise, it's onwards to Te Anau, where we'll be hosted by Gerhard and Virginia Hirner, at their charming B&B, Cosy Kiwi.
06:00 we make our own very early breakfast at Queenstown House and plan to leave asap, before the big tour busses also head for one of NZ's most popular tourist attraction: Milford Sound.
A beautiful drive so early in the morning. Still a bit anxious about the snow chains though. Read in the Rough Guide that you can rent them from a local garage for the day (25$NZ for the day - nice bloke).
We got lucky ñ a sign while leaving Te Anau saying "avalanche risk ...?"
The road from Te Anau to Milford is one of the most scenic and very windy, through the very dark and narrow Homer tunnelÖ Pretty scary when crossing a bus.
Reached Milford Wharf around 10:20, stressed a bit to be in time to get on earlier boat.
No sweat. Our 2 hour Milford Nature cruise (Real Journeys) left at 10:45 Very cold and windy but stunning scenery, waterfalls. No sign of the Mitre peak though due to the clouds. We saw seals and yellow "crested" penguins (no dolphins). The boat went very close to the waterfalls at one point. R looked like she had gone on expedition to the North Pole (she gets cold very easily).
Milford Sound is clearly suffering from it's popularity. Thereís a constant humming and zooming of scenic flight planes taking off or landing. By the time we got back to the wharf, the whole parking lot was crammed with tourist busses ... crazy! We left quickly to keep ahead of the afternoon rush - on route back to Te Anau, we stopped at some short loop walks (The Chasm, Gunn lake).
Checked in at Cosy Kiwi (Virginia & Gerhard), and had dinner at local resto "Kepplers". We ate a local delicacy: a "white bate" omelette.
5 Town Centre,
NZ Phone: +64 3 249 7909
Authentic New Zealand cuisine, featuring lamb, venison and seafood. All meals served with fresh vegetables or salad. Great range of desserts. Evening dining - open 6.00pm until late. Fully licensed.
Jean-Jacques Halans ©2003