February 2 Milford Track (Day 128)

Part 1; Water, Water, Everywhere!

A very early rainy morning, starting with a cold boxed breakfast delivered by the hotel last night. We met our guide at 6:30am in the lobby, the same guide today, but different guests that we picked up soon after. Our guide drove for 2 hours this morning along the same road as yesterday, but all the way to Milford Sound.

We stopped at the entrance to Homer Tunnel which is one-way now because of the sizes of tourist buses and camper vans. We had to wait a few minutes for the opposing traffic to exit the tunnel which gave us time to snap some photos of the ephemeral waterfalls, many of which run only in the rain!

We arrived at 8:30am to an empty parking lot at the tiny Village of Milford Sound, home to about 120 people, most of who work in the tourist industry and are temporary residents. We gathered our belongings and donned the offered rain pants and rain jackets since it was still raining! We caught a water taxi that jetted us across Freshwater Basin and up the entrance to the Arthur River to a small landing that is the start (or end) of the oldest of Nz’s Great Walks, Milford Track. We started our hike following the Arthur River and crossing several creeks, over bridges and wading ankle deep through them!

Sometimes the track looked like this!

We were warned by the guide company to bring a change of clothes and shoes!

The rainforest is lush owing to between 15.5″ to almost 24″ of rain per month, yet temperatures range from about 35F in winter to only 67F in summer.

There were waterfalls everywhere we looked, cascading down the granite cliffs. Notice the two hikers at the bottom center, giving scale to the size of the waterfalls!

Our destination at the 3 mile mark was Giants Gate waterfall, best seen from the swing bridge crossing the river.

We had our lunch at the shelter just past the bridge, along with a hot beverage again!

Part 2; Cruising the Sound

We backtracked on the same trail as the weather began to clear. We reached the water taxi landing in time to catch the boat back to the village.

As we crossed Freshwater Basin we got a view of Bowen Falls, the highest and most powerful waterfall in Milford Sound. It is both the water source and electricity source to Milford Sound Village via a hydropower station.

At the village we changed into our dry clothes (and shoes, in my case jandals {flip-flops}!).We had just enough time to board a larger boat for a cruise on Milford Sound!

More waterfalls in the more narrow and short fiord than Doubtful Sound.

As we neared the entrance to the sound on the Tasman Sea the sun was shining and the rough waves through the narrows calmed to a roll.

The water turned a beautiful teal color as we passed an area with lighter colored rocks flowing down to a small beach.

This area was mentioned by the skipper as a site of particularly rare and translucent Pounamu, or greenstone, also know as jade. Highly prized by Maori and carved into weapons as well as jewelry, it is a Kiwi tradition to wear and gift Pounamu.

We reached the Tasman Sea and the boat turned back at St. Anne Point, the rounded rock at the point.

Returning to the Village the sun was shining to round out a wonderful day.

Part 3; Icing on the Cake!

On our drive back towards Te Anau our guide spotted activity in a parking lot and we turned around to check it out. It was a group of 3 Kea, the iconic alpine parrot of NZ!

A 6 mile hike, a 2 hour cruise, 4 hours being driven through beautiful landscape, meeting the curious, intelligent iconic Kea up close, all in the company of my best friend and husband! A great day!

Leave a Reply