(Posted by Xavier)
Is this the first of many “Oh My Gods” to come? On our way to Te Anau, the gateway town to Milford Sound, we were given the advice to take a tour of Milford Sound rather than trying to drive there. Reason being that the whole area had been getting pounded by heavy rain fall causing rock slides, flooding and closing the only road into the area several times. Not to mention that the road is treacherous under ordinary conditions, but at the same time extremely scenic. Advice taken.
The rain stopped on the day we got in, but the effects of the heavy rains were quite obvious. The lake was lapping up against the edge of the road. Park benches normally safely on the lake shore were now just about all under water. With tour plans set for the next day we check into our camper park.
Yikes! I wouldn’t usually say anything about a camper park but this one had the best 5 star bathroom facilities I’ve ever seen. Wall to wall marble flooring and walls, spacious, heated, hair dryers at every sink. Humm, thank you.
Next day we jump onto our tour bus with Bruce as our driver/tour guide. Bruce was a gem of a guide and a fine example of southern New Zealand charm. With all the recent rains the rivers were flowing, all the waterfalls were at their peak, and we were able to just sit back and enjoy the sights. How do I describe the scenery? Well if you’ve seen any of the “Lord of the Ring” movies, those fantastic mountainside backdrops exist! I can’t even say how many waterfalls we saw. At times we were surrounded by them.
We then arrive at the sound, actually it’s a fjord. Only Norway and New Zealand have fjords. We jump on to our large catamaran ship to tour the fijord for the next 4 hours, and in the process get baptized by one of the fjord’s waterfalls. Yeah, we thought the ship’s captain was only joking when he said he was going to dip the front of the ship under the waterfall. Guess what, he did. And we were at the front of the ship. Have I mentioned the importance of waterproof clothing on a trip like this? It’s a must.
Hopefully the pictures we post can give you some kind of idea of the immense grandure and beauty of this day. It was a long day in which we gladly let some else do all the driving
Bruce, our tour guide, was superb and he topped it off by suggesting a local Te Anau Club (Lodge) for a bite to eat and a drink with a few of the locals. So we did, and in the process we made new found New Zealand friends. Bruce, Phil, Graham, and Joan. Is it standard practice that all New Zealanders are this friendly and easy going? It is our impression that it is so. Their invitation to join them and the entire Te Anau community the next day became a special highlight of our stay in New Zealand.