Thursday, July 21, 2011

Milford Sound

We headed towards Te Anau that evening but since we were quite tired we stopped at a town halfway there where we found cheap accommodation. The next day we arrived at Te Anau and found out the road to Milford Sound had been opened but you still needed to carry chains with you. The information office showed us some pictures of the roads and we opted to book a bus for the trip there, since we weren’t sure our car could handle all that snow. We booked a bus and ferry for the next day. That night we spent the night at Bob & Maxine’s hostel. They are a great older couple that had built a building just for the backpackers but it really feels like a large cottage with stunning views of the mountains from the common room. We had paid for a dorm room but were lucky enough to have the room to ourselves that night. The bus we were taking to Milford left at 10am and the 2 hour ride was accompanied by commentary provided by the driver. It was really nice to be on a bus again and just relax. For the past 6 months we had been the ones driving and we really missed just sitting back and relaxing, reading or sleeping.

Part of the bus journey is some stops along the way but the snow hadn’t been cleared off in the parking lots along the way so we couldn’t stop, which resulted in us arriving early at the ferry terminal. The drive to Milford Sound is stunning and it feels like you’re in a different world looking at the snow capped mountains. But there wasn’t that much snow. The crews had done a great job of clearing the snow from the roads, but there wasn’t that much snow on the sides of the road either. We really couldn’t see why the road had been closed for almost 2 weeks! The amount of snow that fell there wouldn’t even be considered a significant snow fall in Canada. Another Gold Coast Syndrome.

We boarded the ferry just after 1pm (even though I vowed I wouldn’t get on another boat again) and we couldn’t wait for the buffet lunch that was included in the price of the ticket. We were starving! We were lucky as the weather that day was amazing with the sun shining. Apparently this area gets an average rainfall of 8 meters a year and it has topped out at 10 meters one year. The cruise is along an outlet into the Tasman sea and you’re cruising among gigantic fiords. Even though the weather was nice it was still quite cold. Too cold to spend too much time outside so I was content sitting inside and looking out the window. I was excited to see a couple of seals, one in the water and one on the rocks! On the way back we saw another seal on the rocks and the boat came right up to it so we were able to get some pics. The drive back was pretty uneventful except for a herd of sheep that was on the road. There was at least a thousand of them. They were so cute. The farmer was herding them over to another field with the help of his dogs. It caused quite a stir on the bus. Other than that we spent the trip back napping on the bus and it was great.

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