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Saturday 27 Mar 2004
Fiordland, New Zealand

Milford Sound

Im writing this from Dunedin...

26th March 2004

Left Queenstown (finally!) this morning starting the route down towards Milford Sound via Te Anau...

A few hours later Id arrived at Te Anau - making sure to send off a payment for a parking ticket Id received in Napier from the post office (you see, unlike Oz, Im not going to get a chance to cover New Zealand in this trip, so I want to be allowed back in later!!!).

Id read in Lonely Planet about the copious amounts of rain to expect in Fiordland, so I wasnt surprised when it started to bucket down as I ventured further up the wet coast toward Milford Sound. In fact thats putting it lightly, it was THE heaviest rain Ive seen all year... gave my car a good wash though... Ive coined the place "Natures Carwash"!

The rain had two effects though... as well as making the trip painfully slow (and dangerous, since there were hundreds of cars making the trip), it also had the benefit of forming THOUSANDS of waterfalls coming off the mile-high cliffs that shot up either side of the road through the valleys. It was magical, and (like almost everything Ive seen in this country) had a surreal appearance to it. The waterfalls almost seemed to fall in slow-motion, but that was simply because the water was coming from such a height that it seemed to take a long time to touch the ground! They were also surrounded by a halo of sorts... the light was affected by the foggy rain.

I got a photo of one of the cliffs, but I dont think it really will capture the reality of the visuals... having to crane your neck up adds that certain respect for the giant mountains involved...

.. and thats another thing.. I kept on feeling like I was travelling through a valley of kings or Gods... the mountains seemed to "look down" on you as you drove through... eeerie.

Soon enough Id driven through Homers Tunnel (doh!) and arrived at Milford Sound. It was around 5pm at this stage, so I found a good camping spot in the car park here. In fact several vans were doing this, despite the fact that there was a sign saying "no camping"!

27th March 2004

Well it was drastically clear this morning! Sun was shining n all! I decided to investigate the price of a boat trip through Milford Sound, since there wasnt much to see from the shoreline. Surprisingly the cost for a trip was only 46 dollars (I was fully expecting it to be around 100 and well out of my budget...). Score! I paid up and within 10 mins I was on the boat...

The trip took us through the valley for 2 hours... a really beautiful place with more steep cliifs either side of our small boat and seals and dolphins swimming all around...

It turned out Id booked the best time (around 10am) because as we were coming back it started to splash down again (plus the next boat was going to be PACKED with an army of 100 Japanese tourists, while my trip had only about 8 other people on board!!).

I soon set off back to Te Anau. Once I arrived I took a right and headed off to Invercargill. About 4 hours later Id arrived and started looking for a place to camp.. after much searching I eventually found a great (free) motor lodge in Bluff where you pay on a *cough* honesty system. Sweet! It also the closest place to the Antartic where Ive slept...

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