Journal of a visit to New Zealand, via Singapore

The Land of the Long White Cloud
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Photographs by Gerald England
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This page last updated: 29th November 2005.
Day 14: Milford Sound Map

Day 14 The alarm fails to go off, so we have to be up quite speedily to be ready for Ron Peacock of Fiordland Guides who is going to drive us to Milford Sound. I dress quickly and drive down to the "Pop Inn Cafe" where I buy a takeaway breakfast, getting extra toast in lieu of tea or coffee since we can brew our own.

Ron arrives in his 4WD shortly after 8.30 a.m. A one-time countryside warden, he knows the area as well as anyone. It starts to rain as we leave and steadily gets worse. As we head towards the Homer Tunnel we see waterfalls appearing over what is normally just bare rock. Then as the rain gets heavier and the surrounding rock-faces get steeper the waterfalls multiply into an almost continuous curtain. Beyond the tunnel the road switchbacks steeply down to Milford. Ron drops us off at the harbour and parks his vehicle.

It is still raining as we board the "Wanderer" for our cruise on the Sound. Ron escorts us up onto the bridge, where we can view everything in comfort and chat with the captain. The harbour is relatively calm, but as we move into the Sound towards the narrows, it begins to squall violently. The wind is blowing such that it begins to tear at the rafts on the boat. On the tops of the mountainside the waterfalls are being blown back up the rock-face by the force of the wind. There is no way we are going to get out towards the sea today. The captain is in radio contact with other boats and advising those still in the harbour to stay put. We hover in Harrison's Cove for a short while. Here it is a little calmer. The mighty Bowen Falls near the harbour seems to be disgorging even more water than when we left.

Back on dry land, we make several diversions on the way back, visiting the fishing/lobster station, Gunn Lake, Mirror Lake and stopping near Homer Tunnel to view the tremendous waterfalls and the glacial ice near the eastern entrance. Ron's knowledge, commentary on the flora and fauna and his general good nature makes up for not being able to see as much of the Sound as we might have done on a better day — but had the weather been better, we'd have missed the waterfalls!

The rain has eased off considerably by the time we get back to Te Anau, so Ron takes us down to the Wildlife Centre. There we see the rare takahe bird. Ron comes in for a cup of tea and I download the day's photographs on to the laptop. It is a great pleasure to have had such an excellent guide showing us around.

In the early evening it has fined up and the sun is shining. We drive down to Manapouri to check where our boat for Doubtful Sound leaves tomorrow. Opposite the pier is a craft shop. Christine enjoys a chat with the store owner and I buy a T-shirt.

On our way back we stop at the Ming Garden Chinese Restaurant in Te Anau for a delicious takeway.

Journal - Day 15 Photographs - Day 14