Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Milford Sound

    Fjordland National Park, consisting of Milford and Doubtful Sounds and the Routeburn, Kepler and Milford Treks, is considered to be the best place in NZ for hikers. The owner of the Arran Motel is extremely friendly and helpful with tips on spots to fly fish and points of interest going to Milford Sound. We are learning to appreciate the few sunny days we have and are joyful that we have blue skies for our outing. 
    The 75 mile highway to Milford Sound includes lush forest, rugged mountains, cascading ribbons of waterfalls running top to bottom, rushing blue rivers and beautiful overlooks. We stop in a large meadow for a first glimpse of the scenery. The field is bustling with Chinese tourists taking photographs of girls posing like movie stars. In the parking lot, a kea flies onto our car and is up to no good, pecking at the rubber around our windows, then proceeding to sit on the roof preening itself. These mischievous birds will take your belongings and not return them. This one tries to go in through an open door!


     The glacial valley is surrounded by cliffs forming a bowl. The Routeburn Track, a well known 24 mile backpacking trail with huts for overnighters, starts at The Divide. We attempt a few of its switchbacks to get a flavor for this famous hike. 
     The road narrows as we get closer to the 3,940 ft long Hormer Tunnel completed in 1954. The tunnel is one way traffic only and as we wait, we are entertained by keas that swoop down when cars are stopped, and mischievously peck at car antennas with drivers often unaware. Soon the road winds sharply down the valley. We ooh and aah at the tall cliffs with wispy waterfalls running down to the base. The road goes through a forested area before reaching the sound, a 10 mile long fjord.The scenery is spectacular and we are pleased that most of the large tour buses have already left the area. 





     On our way back, we hike to the Chasm, an area of unusual rock formations carved out by rushing water. The road is nearly empty at this hour and we enjoy some solitude.




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