Saturday, October 26, 2013

NZ - the drive to Milford Sound

Perhaps one of the most touristy things you can do in NZ is to do the boat ride in Milford Sound. To get there you have to drive over the mountains and go through a long one-way tunnel. In bad weather the road can be closed so we were concerned about whether we would be able to go.


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It rained all night and we woke to see a lot of clouds over the lake but instead of just a grey mist we could now see some mountains. I looked up the road closures on the internet and good news, the road was open. As I write this blog a few days after this drive, I see that they expect the road to be closed for snow.


By the time we were ready to leave, the sky was clearing to the north. It looked like it would turn out to be a nice day.





The initial few miles is relatively flat until the mountains.


Of course there are sheep everywhere with spring lambs running about beside their mothers.




Unusual cloud pattern looking like the stem of a mushroom.









We stopped to take a look at the Mirror Lakes.






Fortunately the surface of the water was calm. In rainy or windy conditions I expect the mirror effect would be limited.


There was still plenty of cloud around the mountains.


But ahead the day was looking better and better.



After the heavy rain the night before, there were dozens of water falls like these.






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Unusual trees across the valley.





The western entrance to the tunnel. Fortunately we did not have to wait and simply followed the bus. The road is a bit slippery inside and descends as you head west.



Behind the bus in the tunnel.


We emerged into a section of road covered by a shed to protect from rock falls and avalanches.


A few miles east of the tunnel we stopped at a parking lot where you could walk ten minutes to see a view. No sooner had we stopped the car and hopped out when this bird flew over and started pecking at the rubber around the window.


It's a big bird at 19 inches long.


That ferocious looking beak belongs to a Kea which you can read about here. Needless to say we did not leave the car and go for the walk.



After a few more miles we reached Milford Sound. The drive was a lot easier than it was 40 years before. It was pouring rain when Clare and I arrived at Milford Sound back then and with no hope of seeing anything we turned around and went back.

There is a separate blog for our boat ride on the Sound.



After the ride we headed back to the tunnel through the mountain on our way back to Manapouri 




With over three minutes wait to go we lined up behind a queue of cars and campers.



The road back down the mountain side to Milford Sound. When the countdown on the sign reached zero, the lred light did not change to green for a few more minutes which seemed a little odd.


Eventually we emerged on the eastern side of the tunnel. The road is vastly improved from 40 years ago. I seem to remember it was dirt and gravel and it took most of the day to complete the return trip.

Marianne remarked that she felt very relaxed as if she had been given a good massage. The overwhelming experience of the boar ride, mountains, waterfalls and dolphins had banished all her usual thoughts and worries. I realized that I felt the same. It's great therapy but in my case, therapy from what is the question.


Back at the motel after a wonderful day.





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