Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Zealand, Part X

This was the day that almost didn't happen.  We were sitting in Maine, planning our South Island adventures, and figured we'd spend our last day hanging out in Queenstown, preparing ourselves for the epic 32 hour journey home. 

But.  In the back of our minds there was this little niggling thought that kept nudging us whenever we made a hotel reservation or mapped out a driving route.

What about Milford Sound?  It's practically the eighth wonder of the world! I know it's a massive bitch to get to, but really?  You've travelled to the other side of the world and you're not going to drive 4 more hours?  It's really something you should see. *tsk tsk...

So we did. We booked a trip with Mitre Peak Cruises (they seemed the least touristy) and exhausted,  dragged ourselves up and out of our warm room-with-a-view in Queenstown and began the chilly 4 hour journey out to the sound.

It was incredible.  Crazy steep switchbacks across the sides of snow-capped mountains, wildflower-laden fields, and the occasional sheep sharing the road.  Again, we were often the only ones on the road.  A tip if you are thinking about Milford?  Get Up Early!!  The sooner you get out there, the less crowded it will be.  Try to beat the tour buses.

I can't say enough about Mitre Peak; we had a tiny boat, informative captain, and a trip that took us all the way to the Tasman.  Hours flew by like minutes.  There are no words to describe the scale and magnitude of the landscape except that one felt very insignificant indeed.  It stilled the soul and made you draw a deep, clean breath of this-is-what-is-important-in-life. 

We will never forget our day on Milford. Cozy in...this is a long one. 

Sadly, Knobs Flat and Monkey Creek were not as awesome as they sounded.

Sheeps!  Sheeps on the loose!

It would have REALLY sucked to get out here and find that the road was closed.  

Getting there...

Only the Scariest Tunnel in the Fucking World to go!  Seriously?  It was one lane.  You could only drive through it on the quarter hour, because in the meantime, people were coming the other way. We had to turn on our windshield wipers because it dripped so much inside.  A carload of tourists had died the week before on the other side.  Now.  I am not normally freaked out by tunnels.  I don't love them, don't hate them, and generally accept them as a necessary addition to our ground transportation corridors.  I once ran a 5k through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.  It was lovely.  This was...not.  

But we made it.

Milford Harbor.

Yes, we know.   We just came from there.  

Mitre Peak itself, just over 1 mile high and obscured by clouds. 

See that waterfall?  Insane.  

Calmer waters near the mouth of the sound.

Okay, a brief fashion note.  See those boots?  They are Patagonia Drifters and I have been wearing them almost constantly since I bought them 3 years ago.   I don't think you can buy them anymore, which makes me sad, because they have kept my feet dry and toasty tramping through Scotland, Canada, New Zealand, and to work during a couple Maine winters.  Plus, they are cute!

Heading back in... 

Bring a poncho.

As we were leaving Mitre Peak showed its head.  *sigh.

all photos, ours

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