Monday, November 16, 2015

Target: Milford Sound

Series of 2 posts: 

Queenstown to Milford Sound
Milford Sound Cruise

Milford Sound is in the South Island of New Zealand. We took a plane from Auckland to Queenstown, have a lodging place in Queenstown, and the 2nd day took another 5 hour bus ride to Milford Sound. The actual Milford Sound Cruise is actually only 1 hr 45 min, after which another 5 hours to return to Queenstown. But the long way to and from Milford Sound is a wonderful tour in itself. The 10-hr bus ride will not be felt at all, you wouldn't feel like sleeping because you might miss something that will be seen only once!  

Milford Sound is known as one of the world's most spectacular fiords, a 22-km-long fiord situated in a magnificent alpine landscape within the UNESCO World Heritage Fiordland National Park. The latter itself is 12,500 square kilometers, with extraordinary beauty as having "superlative natural phenomena and outstanding examples of the earth's evolutionary history". 

We took the Nakedbus Tours Itinerary. This is the Summary of our day tour, which i substantiated with my photos:

Depart Queenstown at 7.30am (6.50am in winter) by Coach for Milford Sound. We head south through breathtaking scenery along Lake Wakatipu, and past the The Remarkables Range.

Then to high country pastures surrounded by mountains followed by beautiful farm country plains. Heading west towards the mountains and Te Anau we pass through some of New Zealand most scenic farm country. Around us are clear streams & rivers, world famous for their trout fishing.

We stop at Te Anau for refreshments (price not included), overlooking Fiordland National Park for approx. 30 minutes. We then begin our trip to Milford, stopping several times for photo opportunities!

We travel north alongside Lake Te Anau entering The Fiordland National Park World Heritage area. This park has some of the most spectacular and memorable scenery in the world.

Then into beech forests, past tranquil lakes and crystal clear rivers as we climb steadily into the very heart of the mountains. Passing through mist covered valleys, carved out by rock and ice to reach the Homer Tunnel, the gateway to Milford Sound is through a huge mountain. Starting our descent into Milford Sound we travel from cloud capped forest peaks into the subtropical west coast valleys of Milford Sound. We arrive at Milford Sound at approximately 1pm.

We then embark on a 1hr 45 minute cruise of the Milford Sound before leaving for Queenstown at approx. 2.45pm. We stop at Te Anau again for 20 minutes or so on the way back, and arrive back in Queenstown at 7.30pm.

From the laminated guide at the bus seat pockets, i want to read it fully but 
not able to do so, as i might miss the sceneries outside the running bus.

Our Nakedbus

the bus' glass roof, it was a lovely day

circuitous road along the Lakes, on of which is Lake Te Anau

 i will not miss posting this rainbow on that frosty mountain top

 cattle and sheep grazing on the flatlands along the way

 How do you like those trees at the ridge?I wont let that pass without notice!

 and i find those grasses interesting

A little stop at Te Anau center for some snacks gave me some flowers. And what 
do you think that man is doing at the center aisle? If only we have time to spare, 
i will approach him and ask!

Along the lakes are wonderful profuse growths of lupines, i wished we stopped here 
to get better photos of these growths, i've read that the scene is one 
of the spectacular sights at South Island. 

This is near the Monkey Creek, where the driver-guide enticed us to drink. He said it is 
one of the few places you can safely drink natural water at its purest. We tried a little 
and eventually throw the original contents of our water bottles because 
it really tastes so pure, almost sweet because of its purity. 

 How about those waterfalls at the center of these forests? This sight occurred
seemingly often along this route, as a lot of waterfalls are scattered left and right.
But we need to stop and get that longer lens, which i didn't carry,
and we didn't stop! lol

 This is labeled as the Mirror Lakes, where the mountains clearly manifest
on the water during clear days. That day however, it was cloudy
and we only saw the mirror.

I am awed at the properly constructed walks to the designated stops. Safety 
of the tourists is very well accounted for. I truly felt envy 
at theseprecautions and developments. 

 We stopped at this area, a protruding layby-lookout is built at the side of the road. 

 There is a waterfalls below that river, we just heard the sound but it is fully covered by the forest.

Rapid change in types of vegetation is seen in this landscapes. Our very talented 
and humorous driver guide said if we are in a continent, we passed by the 
Great Continental Divide, but since it is not a continent we can say we passed the
 Great Divide because of the sudden obvious change in vegetation.

 Every type of geographical landscape is seen on this route, maybe except for a desert. 
Lakes, flat farms, undulating farms, green forests, mossy forests, rocky mountains,
 snowy mountains,mountains with snowcaps, mountains with icebergs. 
OMG what i read at the internet about these areas are all true! 
They are even more awesome in real life! 

Homer Tunnel, a 1.2 km  route carved out of towering mountains, a stunning feat
of engineering technology. Above is on our way back from Milford Sound,
because i wasn't able to take its photo at the other side. It is 8km south
of The Chasm, carved out of towering mountains,
a stunning feat of engineering.

the glaciers on top of the mountains

Left is an enlarged lake viewed from the lookout i mentioned above; Right is the flowing waterfalls
 at The Chasm, a very deep partition of the earth with a series of uniquely shped rocks and potholes formed by the Cleddau River through the narrow abyss. The Chasm is 8km before reaching Milford Sound, is reached through a few minutes nature walk. The waterfalls is not seen fully because 
of the rocks covering it, but the roar signifies a tall big drop. There is a constructed bridge 
on top of the Chasm for people to see fully and feel the depth and power of the water. 
In my case, for my fear of heights, my knees felt like buckling off and i wasn't able 
to keep pace with my companions, felt like melting. 

To be continued with Milford Sound Cruise!

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