16.11.2011 - 17.11.2011 5 °C
Started off with a nice warm shower and then packed up and headed onto the Milford Sound route. Stopped at a town called Te'Anu which is the last chance to get gas and supplies before the 250km round trip to Milford Sound. At the I-site we um'd and Ar'd wether to do a luxury overnight cruise to doubtful sound. It is supposed to be quiter and is a lot further than Milford but as wonderful as it sounded we decided it was too much money and instead headed onto Milford. (After buying supplies and renting waterproof jackets again!).
The drive was simply stunning
and we stopped half way there to have a sandwhich. Unfortunately as we were under seige by the angryist sand flies you've ever seen we hid inside the camper and watched as the swarms tried to headbut their way into the van.
Back moving again we stopped at a few naff walks (and a dodgy flat
)before reaching the other end of the Routeburn track (the 4 day track we started a few days ago). Deciding it would be fun to do 3 hours of this side of the track aswell, we set off a little late (6.30pm) and hoped we would make it back before dark. This end of the track was very steep for quite some time and we stomped away at a ridiculous pace to try and make it up and down before nightfall.
There were some nice little sights along the way including the now obligatory waterfalls.
We kept up the relentless pace until finaly reaching the Kea Summit.
It was ridiculously windy and the rain was starting to hit us again so in fear of being blown off the mountain we scurried back down the track and made it back to base in a mental time of only one and a half hours (bearing in mind they say its a 3-3.5 hour return trek!).
Happy that our newly rented Gore tex jackets were this time perfectly waterproof we made our way back to Lake Gun DOC campsite for a supper of peanuts and beer.
The sound of the rain pinging of the metal roof of the campervan kept us awake for a fair chunk of the night and it was definately the coldest one yet. Every time an arm poked out the duvet you would awake thinking it was going to freeze off!
The alarm beeped at 7am so that it would give us enough time to get to Milford Sound from where we were. We were looking forward to a scenic cruise we had booked for 8:40am around Milford and just touching the Tasmin Sea. The last part of the drive to the town was the most scenic drive I have ever experienced. Snow covered mountains looked like they were so close you could touch them and at times the view from the windscreen was completely obscured by a wall of trees stretching up into the heavens. Truly inspiring and humbling. As we drew closer to Milford Sounds we went through Homer tunnel (doh!) which looked like it had been hand carved through the mountain and was so long you could not see the ends when inside, very eary. Popping out the other side we were presented with a magnificent view of super twisty roads and even closer mountains.
Arriving at the car park at the end of the road we went into the terminal and awaited our boarding time. The boat was a fair size but only half full so plenty of room to mill around and find some comfy seats.
Anyone who has cruised Milford Sounds and is reading this will know that words cannot describe the sheer scale and beauty of the place. For those who haven't I'm afraid you'll have to make do with the following pictures as words fail me. It is how you might imagine the world was in the beginning of time before man was even a twinkile in the earths eye.
We were lucky enough to see bottle nose dolphins, fur seals and even very rare penguins as we slowly cruised through the pathway carved by glaciers millions of years ago.
There were so many beautiful waterfalls and the captain even took the boat so close he dipped the bow of the boat into one as the water hurtled down on deck (picture taken just before Jayne had to dive out of the way!)
It was a fantastic way to spend a morning and highly recommended to anyone who is likely to ever be in this part of the world. Although do pack some waterproofs as they have around 7 metres or rain per year here!! (and we witnessed about 2 metres of it on the way back to harbour!).
The drive back was like a different road completely as the weather had changed completely and a quick stop off to change drivers gave us an un-expected treat when wild Parrots decided to loot Hector!
It then began to snow really heavily and the place yet again took on a different look.
Safely back at Te'Anu we fired up a barby to cook steak and potatoes as we fancied a proper meal for a change as we chilled for the afternoon and made camp for the night.