Tour of South Island – Day 9

Tuesday 15th February 

Views across Eglinton river

We slept much better in the insect free campsite.  We packed up and, after doing a bit of shopping, drove to Milford sound.  The stunning alpine 66-mile drive takes in the most spectacular terrain and is one of the most scenic highlights of New Zealand.  Every winding bend brought a new view better than the last.  The journey takes you from the green grass lowland pastures of the Eglinton river, through native bush, up into the rocky mountainous area around the Homer tunnel. 

The Divide

Completed in 1953 the Homer tunnel pierces the sheer rock to allow access to Milford Sound.  The tunnel is just under a mile long and 945 metres above sea level.  There are another 10 miles of mountainous terrain beyond the tunnel through a valley with sheer sides of shattered rock. 

Fiord land national park

First view of Milford sound

Milford sound with Mitre peak on the left and Mt Pembroke on the right

According to Maori legend the fiords were created by the legendary Tuteraki with his adze, he started in the far south and by the time he reached Milford Sound he had perfected his technique and carved an awe-inspiring fiord. Piopiotahi, to give it its Maori name, stretched out in front of us making a dazzling sight.  We parked up and went and booked a cruise for later in the afternoon.  We had a lovely lunch and then explored the various walks around the village of Milford.

Southern Discoveries cruise boat

We were so lucky to have a beautiful blue-sky day for our cruise.  Words and photos cannot describe the beauty of our surrounding.  We saw seals sunbathing, breathtaking waterfalls which the boat went right into, and majestic mountains rising 1200m out of the sparkling water.  We went out to the sea and then returned down the other side, it was awe-inspiring.  Although it was cold the sun just shone all afternoon.  While talking to the skipper later we learnt that they only have about 80 days a year like this so we were lucky. 

Mighty Mitre peak

Milford sound is the top thing on the list of 101 things to do in NZ and I think I would agree with them.

Seals sunbathing in the sun

One of the beautiful waterfalls

Margie and Sue going under the waterfall

It formed a beautiful rainbow

Snow on the Pembroke Glacier

Four friends

The Chasm waterfall

After our cruise we stopped at the Chasm half way between Milford and the Homer tunnel.  This was an impressive rock chasm formed by the rushing waters of the Cleddau river.  The loop walk offered views of waterfalls and sculptured rock formations.

Sculptured rock formations

One last look at the mountains

Camped at Gunn camp

We had looked at a few campsites on the drive up but they were all DOC sites with compost toilets, a no no as far as I was concerned.  Peter and Margie can use them because their motorhome had a shower and toilet but we decided to drive to the Gunn camp.  It had been recommended by the i site in Te Anau.  It had proper toilets, showers, a kitchen with an outside barbeque and …….. SANDFLIES.

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Posted on February 15, 2011, in Port posts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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