Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Millford Sound, New Zealand

2nd Feb

Milford sound was one of the ‘Must do’ items on my list and one of the reasons for hiring a car because I thought it was off the bus routes. So I had to justify to myself why I ended up getting a bus tour there rather then driving. The justification was easy. It was a 4 hour trip there from Queenstown and a 4 hour trip back. I just would not enjoy doing such a trip in a day and I did not think I would have enough time to do it over 2 days. In the end it was a very god decision.

We all boarded the bus at just after 8am and our very Kiwi bus driver took us on our way while giving us information about various lakes, mountains and towns.

We passed by lake wakitipu and its dramatic mountain backdrop (used in lord of the rings) and on through farmland (a good time to catch some shuteye) until we reached Lake Te Anau and had a stop at the town of the same name for some much needed breakfast.

Then it was onwards to the sound up into the spectacular mountains which seemed to get higher and steeper as we went.

Eventually we came to to the homer tunnel set into the mountainside and only wide enough for one set of traffic at a time. We had to wait for our turn to go through which meant that everyone could climb out of the bus and take in the massive cliffs that surrounded the valley. There was even the obigitory kea trying to scrounge some food off the tourists.

Going through the tunnel was quite spooky as there was only a few feet left on all sides for the bus then we burst out into the other side and could see the long windy road down to the fiord beyond (used in several sportscar ads).

We arrived at the ferry at about 1:30 and immediately boarded and started getting our large free bufet lunch (part of the package). I ate mine as quick as possible (which for anyone who knows means VERY quick) as I did not want to miss a minute of the scenary outside.

We steamed out of the harbour and spent the next 2 hours cruising in some of the best scenary I have seen in my life. The cliffs and mountains rising straight out of the sea were just breathtaking. We even managed to see some dolphins (though I did not get a got photo of them)

Towards the end of the trip we went close to one of the waterfalls and anyone at the front of the boat got a real soaking.

The final part of the trip was to a specially constructed underwater viewing platform. Because of the amount of fresh water that enters the sound there is a layer of fresh water on top of the saltwater with the result that the waters become very dark very quick. The platform was built to show off the black coral and fish that wopuld normally be down at least 50m but could be seen at 10m.

It was quite good but after 15 minutes looking out from the cramped, floating platform I started to feel very queasy and wanted to get back on the boat and back to the pier.

The bus ride back was uneventful and everybody just tried to sleep.

After a quick shower I went across to the Ferg bar with some of the Kiwi Experience crowd and had possibly the largest messiest burger I have ever had in my life - accompanied by the largest chip - I could not even eat half of them. Then it was on to my last nights drinking with the Kiwi bus crowd.

As per usual we started in the base backpackers bar but quickly moved onto the world bar where I decided to indulge in some of their cocktails which came in teapots! you drank the concoction through the spout.

I also seen on the list of shots a thing called an Irish car bomb which was made up of a jameson and bailey shot in a glass of dark ale. You dropped the shot into the beer glass in the same way as a jagger bomb and then drank the nasty result. I thought it was funny at first to see something called an Irish car bomb but then In my drunken haze I started thinking about all the people down the years that have been blown to pieces back home by them and I startd to feel really angry at the use of the name. How would a yank feel if they called a cocktail the 911 aircrash? How would a Spaniard feel about a shot called the madrid trainbomb - its just not right!

I went to bed very drunk and quite angry vowing to give them a piece of my mind the next time I went to the bar - which obviously didn't happen as I left the next day to go to Stewart island.

Here are my photos of the milford sound trip

Glossary update

Sweet (as)
Kiwi term used in just about every sentence to describe that things are good and ok. Our bus driver used it ALL the time as did every other tour and bus operator. It was actually quite quant.

Things I have lost/broken
Nothing - I actually found a nokia mobile phone charger in my room which had been left there by some other forgetful person so I nicked it for my own use - sweet!

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Wed 4 March: Manchester C 2 Aston Villa 0