The Big Trip (Southern Leg) Day 4: Milford Sound (warning: high graphics)

So much for weather forecasts. The promised rain didn’t arrive the next morning, and in fact the clouds were beginning to clear as we set off to Milford. By the time we reached the edge of the bush the sky was almost completely blue, just the odd wispy cloud to make the scenery look even more beautiful. Our first stop for the day was at the Mirror Lakes (so-called for their reflections of the surrounding mountains), where a ground fog was making everything look otherworldly:

A bit further down the road at we stopped and followed a walking track through the bush to Lake Gunn:

I don’t need to be with foreign tourists to appreciate the mountains of Fiordland – they totally blow me away every time I see them. The only trouble is, they’re so huge it’s impossible to really capture them in a photo. But I tried:

The montage isn’t perfect, because I wasn’t using a tripod, but it gives you a rough impression of what it’s like standing among those mountains. (Click on the picture to see it full size – be warned though, it’s big!)

Mother Outlaw is scared of heights, so wasn’t very happy about the road up to the Homer Tunnel. I felt awful when I had to tell her it was going to be even worse going back down the other side (we decided to swap seats for that bit, so she could sit in the back with her eyes closed!). Before we went through the tunnel we stopped to make a cup of tea (the wonders of travelling by campervan), and while the kettle was boiling I followed a walking track up above the snowline (not as impressive as it sounds, because the snowline was only about a couple of metres higher than where we were parked) to take some photos (well, to try to anyway, because my camera decided it didn’t like the cold up in the mountains, and kept switching itself off just when I went to take a photo. Eventually I figured out a technique where I kept it tucked under my jersey in the warm until I had worked out exactly what I wanted a photo of, when I would whip it out and take the photo before it got a chance to get too cold).

This is the mountain the Homer Tunnel goes under. A serious feat of engineering!

Alpine plants

Looking back down the valley

Looking back down at the carpark gives a good sense of scale of the mountains!

Through the tunnel, we could look back and see the other side of the mountains I’d been photographing earlier:

Next stop was the Cleddau River. When I brought MrPloppy back to NZ with me when I came home, Dad wanted to show him around the country a bit and took us down to Fiordland. All the way down there he’d been telling MrPloppy about this amazing waterfall he’d take him to see on the Cleddau River. Dad of course pronounced it in the Kiwi way: “Cled-ow”. It wasn’t until we reached the river and saw a signpost that MrPloppy said “Oh, the Cleddau!” (pronouncing it “Cleth-aye” in the Welsh way). Up until then, Dad hadn’t even realised it was named after a Welsh river, and certainly had no idea he wasn’t saying it right – everyone he’d ever known had called it the “Cled-ow”. After that, the Cled-ow/Cleth-aye became a bit of a family joke, so we had to take the Outlaws to see it and tell them about MrPloppy’s introduction to ignorant Kiwis 🙂

Not that the waterfall wasn’t worth taking them to see anyway: a little mountain stream suddenly plummets into a deep chasm, where it has carved the rocks into fantastic shapes (it’s another place that’s difficult to photograph well, because there’s nowhere you can see the falls in their entirety, as they drop down several levels into the chasm below you).

The walk through the bush to the falls wasn’t bad either:

Finally we reached Milford Sound. Here the mountains look even bigger, because instead of being surrounded by foothills like mountains usually are, they come straight down to sea-level. So you have mountains like this at your back:

and the sea at your feet:

We didn’t have time (or the money!) to take a cruise out into the Sound, but even just sitting on the shore in front of the cafe (where I released a book, of course: Malibu and Beverly Hills by Pat Booth), the views were spectacular.

All too soon we had to turn round and head back to Te Anau (Mother Outlaw was dismayed to hear there was no other road out of Milford, so she had no choice but to brave the steep road up to the tunnel again), but I was so glad we’d ignored the weather forecasts – we’d had such an incredible day.

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One Comment

  1. Wow, what amazing weather you had! You got some lovely pictures.

    Milford, for all it’s sometimes crowded and for all it’s so often photographed, is always amazing.

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