Cruising on Milford Sound
I spent several days
in Te Anau, a pleasant resort town surrounded by
beautiful mountains, clear lakes, rolling farmland, and captivating fjords.
My food supplies were running low, so
I stopped at the grocery store in Te
Anau the second day I was there and got restocked -- carefully avoiding the
mutton sausages that were my staple during my first week here in New Zealand (for
my not-so-flattering description of mutton sausages,
see News: January
1, 2002 ). That evening,
after a great fish and chips dinner, I strolled around
town in my shorts and t-shirt and watched a beautiful sunset by the shores of
Lake Manapouri. Te Anau is kind of a party town in the summer time, and
there were lots of teens and 20-somethings strolling the streets and having a
Sound cruise was pretty amazing, but I'd heard even better things about
Milford Sound so I decided to check it out. Doubtful Sound is pretty
hard to get to, as I described in my last entry, since you have to drive
to the boat dock, take a boat across the lake to the bus, take the bus
down to the sound, then take another boat through the sound. Milford
Sound is a lot more accessible: basically, you just drive 119
kilometers from Te Anau to the sound, where you hop on a boat.
morning, therefore, I drove down to
Milford Sound and took my second cruise in two days. Milford Sound
is quite different from Doubtful Sound. On the plus side, it's much
more precipitous and, I think, more spectacular, but on the down side, its
much shorter than Doubtful Sound and its a lot more crowded. Imagine filling Yosemite Valley with seawater and then adding lots
of ferns and rain, and you'll get an idea of what Milford Sound is like.
What made it even more fascinating was that it had rained earlier that
morning and the waterfalls were plunging
straight off the sheer granite cliffs. Because there's very little soil
here, though, the waterfalls are ephemeral and were all dry later that
The Milford cruises are pretty popular and the staging building
looked like an airport terminal with all the boats, tour buses, and people
coming and going, but I'd definitely recommend it. If you'd like an
experience with more solitude, though, check out Doubtful Sound.
Then again, if you're not sure (like me), do both. You won't regret
Above left: Driving to
Milford Sound the next morning to catch another cruise.
Above center: Another day, another
sound. This is Milford Sound, one of the most famous places in New
Zealand. Although the sound (and the cruise) was much shorter than
Doubtful Sound, it was even
more spectacular -- though it's also a lot more crowded.
Above right: The sheer granite walls in Milford Sound plunge straight down into the
water. This place gets so much rain that, even though this is the ocean, the top few yards
are freshwater. Freshwater or saltwater fishing -- take your pick.
Above left: I stopped at the floating
Underwater Observatory in Milford Sound where a spiral staircase
leads down to the observatory.
Above center: You can watch all kinds of cool aquatic life
from the observatory.
Above right: A couple of hitcher-hikers that I picked up on my way back to Te
Anau. That's Idit from Israel with the red cap and Jan from Holland on the
right. I ran into Idit again a week later at Fox Glacier, and she was
still wearing her red cap.
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New Zealand and Cook Island Stories > Cruising on