Dan In The South Pacific 2006 travel blog

This place has great vistas

Waterfalls

Cruise catamaran

Average view from the boat (= awesome!)

Seal

Underwater Observatory


Okay, so part of the deal for doing the trip down south is getting a chance to go to Milford Sound, considered by some to be the 8th wonder of the world. We left Te Anau at about 9:15 am and had about a 3 hour drive to get to the Sounds. The time in Milford consists of a 2 hour and 45 minute cruise and some time at the Underwater Observatory that is found there.

We woke up to rain which usually sucks for cruises, but for Milford Sound this means awesome. Why you ask? Because when it rains in Milford the waterfalls start and it really blows the top off the place. Rain makes you feel physically misearble and cold, but when you can see waterfalls and awesome scenery it makes the trip okay.

On the drive in to the wharf we had a few photo stops and we did one walk to the Chasm which is an awesome waterfall. We then boarded "The Lady of the Sounds" for our cruise. The ship is a basic cruise catamaran with 3 viewing decks and a snack bar. There was a great commentary on the way so we knew what we were looking at. We couldn't really see Mitre Peak which is the tallest mountain in Milford Sound, due to the low clouds, but we knew it was out there. The cruise was pretty calm and we got a chance to catch some of the water from one of the waterfalls in a bucket on the bow of the ship. That water is some of the best water I have ever tasted. Anyways, it was a real scenic cruise from the wharf, out to the Tasman sea and back and it was great, despite what I heard from other people on Kiwi Experience. Here is some advice I got from Smiley our bus driver that has really helped make the last 2 weeks great - "you only get out of this trip what you want to take from it, so give it heaps". Good advice to live by.

Before we left Milford we got a chance to go to the Underwater observatory (science geek warning). The observatory is 9 meters down into the sea, which shouldn't be a big deal, but wait. The freshwater that runs off the rock faces collects tannins from the trees that are semi-rooted and this darkens the upper levels of the water. As a result, the water is darker at shallower depths and this allows many species to live at 9 meter depths that would normally be found at way deeper levels. The observatory allowed us to see corals, fishes, sea sponges and other marine life. It was really interesting and I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had to catch the next ship out.

We caught the next ship out and it was full of Indian people. This isn't a social comment or anything it was just a fact. I think they really think that Milford is something special because I heard this several times that the cruise ships are full of Indian tourists. We caught the boat back and then boarded the bus for a long drive back to Queenstown which for me meant civilization after 6 days out in the middle of nowhere. The drive was about 5 hours and I was forced to kill some brain cells by watching "Scary Movie".

Anyways, I made it back and am going to spend some money again and eventually get to Christchurch. Keep checking for updates and lemme know what you think.



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