Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NZ 2009 Day 7 - Milford Sound

Early morning drive to Milford Sound. We booked a cruise which included buffet lunch on board and a visit to the observatory.

sheep crossing the road

Still was a cloudy day.

No photo ops on this mirror lake. It was just too cloudy (a bit drizzling) and the lake itself was not that clear.

But we were hopeful that the weather at Milford Sound was ok for a cruise trip.

We stopped at this area where we could take a good photo of the mountains and streams. A bus-load of tourists arrived. We saw some Japanese tourists taking water from the stream and drinking it! Well they said it should be clean cause it's from the melted snow on the mountains. I didn't risk it though.

There were also saw some chunks of melted ice and snow along the side of the road. We stopped by to take pictures.
From Homer Tunnel

this was how close it was to the road

We stopped at Homer Tunnel - a 1270m tunnel that links Milford Sound and Te Anau. There's a traffic light at both ends/entraces.
From Homer Tunnel
It was quite scary inside the tunnel as the walls were unlined granite.

melted snow basin on the right side of the tunnel

From Homer Tunnel
climbed on the ice on the left side of the tunnel

snowball fight anyone???

When the kids finally decided they had enough of fun (for that time), we continued our journey passing through Homer Tunnel and the winding road down to Milford Sound. I think it would be a difficult drive if it was winter or fall. Good thing we came during spring/summer season.

Few more minutes and we have arrived at Milford Sound. We needed to walk from the carpark to the harbour.
Got our boarding passes and now waiting for boarding

We booked the 11:45am DISCOVER MORE CRUISE which includes BBQ lunch on-board and observatory. This was a 3-hr cruise which costs $268 for family (2 adults + 2 children).

our cruise ship (Lady of the Sounds) with Mitre Peak on the background

Upon boarding, everyone headed straight to the buffet lunch. I guess everyone wanted to get done with their food so they can go out and see the sights after.

FRESHWATER BASIN - where the Milford Sound Visitor Centre and all cruise ships depart. This harbour contains more freshwater than saltwater.

Numerous waterfalls....
BOWEN FALLS - first of the few falls to be seen around Milford Sound. Drops 161metres from a hanging valley in the Darren Range. It is the higher among the 2 permanent falls in Milford Sound.

FAIRY FALLS - one of the prettiest corners of Milford Sound. Only a temporary falls.

STIRLING FALLS - drops 155metres. One of the 2 permanent falls at the fiord.

as we were getting closer to this falls, most of the people on board (especially those with DSLR cameras) rushed down so as not to get wet by the waterfalls splashing on the top deck. We, on the otherhand, were not that afraid to get wet. We stayed there, taking in all the splashes this waterfalls has to offer. Of course, there was a moment there where I had to hide so I won't get the camera wet.

SINBAD GULLY - a hanging valley

MITRE PEAK - 1682metres. One of the highest mountains in the world to rise directly from the ocean floor.
This photo was taken while we were at the Milford Foreshore Walk trail.

COPPER POINT - named for high deposits of copper in the walls.

DALE POINT - entrance to Milford Sound. Around 548metres wide and 79 metres deep (considered quite shallow compared to the rest of the fiord with depths up to 300metres). Overlooking Tasman Sea.

SEAL ROCK - one of the few areas in the fiord where the Southern Fur Seals are seen. They climb up to this big rock and "sunbath" (as you can see from the pics).

There was also an area where we saw some crested penguins. At first, the 3 penguins were hiding behind the rocks. Then slowly they started coming out.

close to Dale Point, this mountain side was carved/chipped by the movement of glaciers hundreds of years ago. The chip on the edge of the mountain is quite obvious.

HARRISON COVE - the location of Milford Deep Water Observatory. This was the only natural anchorage used during the early 1800s by whalers and sealers.

MILFORD DEEP WATER OBSERVATORY - a floating observatory. We had to walk down the stairs to reach around 9metres under the water where we could see some marine life. Unfortunately, there wasn't really that much to see (compared to other underwater observatories we've seen in other countries). And the place was also not that big. But it was interesting to know that the water at the fiord is a mixture of sea and fresh water. This catered to the varied marine life living there, adapting to the environment.

The observatory was the last stop of our cruise.

on-board Lady of the Sound. Kids were not afraid to walk around the top-deck.

After our cruise, we headed to the Milford Foreshore Walk trail. Took some photos while the kids were exploring the area. Then drove back to Te Anau. We stopped at some of the marked attractions.

From Milford Sound
Eglinton Flat

When we arrived at the hotel, the kids were pretty excited to go on the trampoline. We didn't let them play before as it was too cold and a bit drizzling.

The kids had fun jumping and stumbling in the trampoline.

After the trampoline, we had dinner, and the boys were off to the spa, while I started packing our things for tomorrow's check out.


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