Day 9. We awoke to more heavy rain after a night with the roof drummer, not surprising when we were now based in the wettest place in the whole of New Zealand. We were hoping to take the 30 minute walk down to the harbour for our cruise, the rain was relentless, we took option two the free shuttle from Milford Lodge.
Southern Discoveries Fiord Cruise and Underwater Observatory…. our boat was one of the first to leave and was much smaller than some, only holding seventy five passengers. It was not full, two dozen at most leaving us plenty of room to move around inside and out. Complimentary tea and coffee was available as well as hot/cold snacks to buy. Throughout the cruise a nature guide gave an entertaining and at times funny commentary and was on hand to answer any questions.
Rain was a constant and although breathtakingly beautiful, from a photography point of view the fiord scape was dull and grey in appearance.
Not so the two waterfalls, our boat sailed ever nearer until we were so close the prow was almost touching, and it felt like you were underneath, we could literally taste the pure glacial waters. Fairy Falls – the first – was wet enough but Stirling Falls was huge, the water thundering down cascading over the boat and us, was exhilarating and very wet, all experienced while listening over the tannoy to ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’. A surreal experience indeed!
Motoring along a shout from the side of the boat ‘Dolphins’ three dolphins in total, side by side skimming fast alongside the boat before disappearing as stealthy as they came. Too quick to photograph but a real bonus to see so close.
Another shout from one of the crew ‘Penguins’ our boat motored over to a point where five or six Crested penguins were out on the rocks. Rarely, the muse behind her lens produced the best shots!
Seal Rock did not disappoint as the boat slowly moved past, many Fur seals were basking – in the gloom – on the rocks.
Milford Discovery Centre…. we said goodbye to our cruise boat here as we had opted for the ‘add on’ Underwater observatory tour. Our guide gave us an informative talk with the aid of display boards on the first explorers to Milford sound and subsequent events up to the present day. The suspended observatory was 10 metres down with big viewing windows to the black coral – actually white – and a variety of fish and anemone beyond the glass.
Well organised we were picked up fifty minutes later by a different boat to take us back to the harbour. Still chucking it with rain the shuttle picked us up and took us back to the lodge. We were staying an extra night here and made good use of the warm lounge area, to dry off.
Late afternoon the rain stopped, the sun appeared, togging up we set off for the half hour walk down towards the harbour and the…..
Foreshore loop track 20 minute return. This short walk took us to the edge of the fiord over wooden boardwalks. For long-suffering this was where he was hoping to get uninterrupted views of the famous Mitre Peak so named as its shape resembles a bishops mitre or headdress. Height: 1,692m one of the highest mountains in the world to rise directly from the ocean floor.
Unfortunately the top was not visible, as soon after arriving by the shore the rains and mist returned. We stayed a while then walked back up to our adopted drying room at the lodge, by now we were feeling the chill and decided to cook our evening menu of Chilli in the communal kitchen instead of Aromoana to keep us warm and toasty, I made enough to feed a party, Chilli tomorrow and some for the freezer!
Day 10. Foreshore Walk take two…. We awoke to clear blue skies and sun and were out wrapped up against the cold walking back down to shore before breakfast with high hopes of getting a shot of Mitre Peak in all its magnificence….He did!
Long suffering positioned himself by the shore with his tripod while I sat on a bench near the track with my sketchbook.
Half an hour later we were both ready to leave, the beautiful view now completely blotted by a massive cruise ship that had sailed in!
Overnight snow Homer Tunnel Area…. Luckily we left Milford lodge later, as heavy snow had fallen overnight a mile before the Homer Tunnel, although the snow ploughs had done a good job of clearing the roads. The avalanche warning signs held much more meaning in the thick snow.
Long-suffering drove sensibly and calmly to the conditions with me needlessly panicking and berating him for the most part until we got past the Eglington Valley when the snow just disappeared! Before that we stopped with the hordes at the first allowed viewpoint!
Te Anau….quick stop here to pick up our replacement hose, and grab some supplies before driving on to Mossburn and our next stop…..
Mossburn Country Park…. Not just a country park, a working farm too, we were greeted by lots of hens bustling and clucking their greetings around our feet as we checked in, and given food treats to feed the sheep and Alpacas in the fields beyond and later a male peacock joined the party!
The pitch was perfect allowing us a wide angle view of the snow capped mountains beyond the front windscreen.