Kiwimoon: Mesmerizing Milford Sound (Day 3)

27th February 2014, Thursday

At 7.30 am, we waited by the carpark of our lodge for the bus to Milford Sound. We were picked up by a small yellow minibus, Connectabus, which brought us to the Clock Tower in Queenstown central. Then we transferred to another bus – the bus with a glass ceiling, which we booked via Milford Sound Select – and met other travelers heading to the fjord.

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Good Morning Queenstown central!

It takes approximately 4 hours to and fro the harbour of Milford Sound, in which the boat will take us along the fjord for about 2 hours. We decided not to drive as we were unfamiliar with the roads and wanted to avoid the long drive. The Singaporean uncle we met the day before shared with us that if you stayed at Te Anau, it would be nearer to Milford Sound, and that they would be driving there. Anyway, the journey itself were breathtaking, filled with spectacular sceneries and many quirks like these.

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Flocks of sheep crossing the road.. The bus had to stop and let them pass by. It was such a cute sight!
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Yes, those are real. Those clouds. Hubs and me were so mesmerized with the clouds, SubhanAllah.

About 2.5 hours into the drive, our bus driver James stopped us at Te Anau for a short break where we had our cuppa coffee and some breakfast.

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Cafe was our shelter from the strong winds at Te Anau, which we quickly discovered upon alighting from our bus.
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The selection of coffee available. One flat white and one hot chocolate please!
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We didn’t order any food since we actually brought along cheese sandwich which we pre-packed before we left.

We soon continued our journey afterwards, and James stopped us along The Milford Road.

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The Milford Road, 119km long, is the most accessible way to experience the scenic grandeur to Milford Sound.
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Here the steep mountain faces are covered with thick vegetation.
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So we took the opportunity to strike a pose with these majestic mountains..

Then another stop at the Mirror Lakes!

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Mirror Lakes is known as one of the world’s heritage site, is a set of lakes that reflects the scenery around it.
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Creative signboard, I must say.
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Stunning mirror effect!
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Back to our bus after a good 15 minutes..

We made another stop along another river, where we can also refill our waterbottles from the glacial waters.

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Even though it’s Summer in NZ, the areas at Fiordland are always cold and windy. I can’t imagine coming here in Winter, brrr…
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How to fill your waterbottles at a river stream? Position your bottle with the current, and not against/opposite the current, so your water does not take in any debris or dirt meant to flow away.
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Beautiful snowcap mountains surrounding us.
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The other side of the river, the rocky road leading us to the fiord…

Undeniably, there’s a lot of waterfalls in the fiord area. James made a final stop before the fiord and we went in to explore the area. It was Heaven for waterfall lovers like us!

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Rapid currents of the river creating a spectacular mini waterfall…
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See the color of the water – in magnificent turquoise SubhanAllah!
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The view of the Mitre Peak from here, so near yet so far…
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Back in our bus, where we could see the view of Mitre Peak from our glass-window bus, which means that we’re nearly reaching Milford Sound! Excited!

And finally, we have reached the harbour where we will embark aboard the boat on Milford Sound…

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At Milford Wharf Visitor Centre.
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And that is our boat that will take us aboard the fiord.

Off we go!

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The ticket issued to everyone; already paid for in the tour payment, indicating the date of tour (27 Feb 2014 for us).
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Free flow of coffee and tea available. There is also a small bistro where you can get some pastries and snacks.
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The upper deck of the boat, which is the best place to experience Milford Sound fully with your sights, sounds and senses.
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IMG_8446 It was extremely windy and wet on the upper deck, which is normal as Milford Sound is known as one of the wettest places in the world. It did not rain the day we went, but the weather was really cold and the wind stung my eyes a little. Do be prepared and pack your jackets/windbreakers and gloves along.
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Look at the misty mountains, SubhanAllah… That shows how cold it was out there!
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A fiord is a is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion.
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The New Zealand flag~
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It’s amazing how a glacial erosion can result in something so beautiful like this.
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The famous Stirling Falls, a type of “plunge” waterfall which is 151 metres high.
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A close-up of Stirling Falls, which we got to see as our boat went nearer to it. Looking at this, no wonder it is known as the most magnificent waterfall in NZ.
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This is the Palisade Falls, a “ribbon” waterfall with a height of 55 metres. The waterfall is more spectacular after rain, and in dry days it will appear as a thin stream of water.
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Seals frolicking on a rock. Our first time seeing seals up close and personal!
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Go straight and you will reach Australia via the Tasman Sea, which is the marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean between Australia and NZ. Here, our boat made a u-turn back to the start point of the sound.
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Last but not least, this is the Bowen Falls which is the nearest to the starting point of the sound. Described as the highest and most powerful waterfall in Milford Sound, this “horsetail” waterfall spans a height of 162 metres.
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And we’re back to the harbour, which symbols the end of our 2-hour boat tour along the fiord.

Another 4 hours journey by bus back to Queenstown, we managed to reach back to our lodge by 7pm. As opposed to the start of the day where we were picked up by a Connectabus, this time around James actually drove us back to our lodge personally (which meant that we were the last to get off). We took the time to chat with James, and discovered that before he became a bus driver for Milford Sound Select, he used to be a captain for the Milford Sound boat for 30 years! Wow, an amazing feat I must say. Imagine spending every day on this spectacular fiord…

Alhamdulillah for the wonderful Milford Sound experience!

(Milford Sound… check! *ticks off infinite ever-growing travel list*)

Next on Kiwimoon: Starry, Starry Lake Tekapo (Day 4)

Previous on Kiwimoon: Exploring Queenstown (Day 1 – 2)

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