After checking with the locals that the road to Milford Sound is open and passable we set off about 8.30 am for the 2 hour drive. The road is reputed to be one of the most spectacular in New Zealand and it really is so beautiful along the way. Despite detesting the cold weather I think we are actually seeing the countryside at its best. The awesome mountains topped with snow compete with frozen waterfalls and lakes, frosted trees, grasses and bushland for the prize of prettiest sight.
The mist that is hanging in low sheets across the roads and valleys adds to the eerie and mystical appearance of the landscape. We reckoned that this amazing journey would be overwhelmed with about a billion tourists in the warmer months and we stop along the way loads of times to take photographs, have a snowball fight and grab some massive icicles. There are about 4 other cars on the road and we take it in turns to lead as everyone keeps stopping. We won the race in the end; we said Simon was like Penelope Pitstop.
On the way he tells us about merain fields and the difference between a sound (Formed by river erosion) and a fjord (Formed by glacier erosion) apparently Milford Sound is incorrectly named as it’s actually a fjord. Hmm clever!
We arrive at the cruiseboat terminal and book our tickets for 11.30am. The operators are offering a deal where children go free as its NZ kids winter holiday at the moment so it costs us 110 dollars in total. The boat we have chosen is a smaller boat and there are around 10 people on it. We set off through the fjord and gaze up at the mountains all around. The Captain of the boat tells us that when Captain Cook was chartering New Zealand in the late 1700′s he sailed straight past here. The reason being, that from out to sea the mountains appear to cross over each other and the entrance to the fjord is therefore concealed.
There are 3 waterfalls to see and the lots of evidence of the huge glacier that cut through here. The sides of the mountains are scratched with deep gouges where the rocks carried by the glacier ground the mountain rock away. We learn that glaciers often move quite fast, up to a metre a day and when they finally terminate leave behind many boulders in the merain fields. Interesting. Best of all we see some wild sealions, how cool is that? Lying on a rock their big blubbery bodies spread out and we’re all enchanted.
Its 11pm now and I spent the afternoon reading my book in the warmth. Travelling around New Zealand is quite different to travelling elsewhere. Very easy, everything is mapped out for you. Although the hostels are nice I am beginning to feel a bit like I’m on a school trip, actually I quite like it, I always thought I would suit an institutionalised life. Endless magazines, tv and board games, give it to me.