Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wednesday 30th January – Talking My Way Through Milford Sound

Today, the ship was taking a scenic detour through New Zealand's stunning fiordland, before heading across the dreaded Tasman Sea to Tasmania. Anything which puts off a couple of potentially rocky days of sea was fine by me, but this was a wonderful diversion.

New Zealand's fjords aren't as well known as their Norwegian counterparts, and they don't have the crashing glaciers that we saw the year before last in the Chilean Fjords just over a year ago, but, they're pretty special. The wonderful thing about seeing them on a cruise ship is that it's so difficult to get there by any other transport.

The Dusky Sound that we sailed through in the morning is scarcely visited at all – the tranquil waters of its glacial valleys surrounded by densely forested hills that have a silent tranquillity to them where you can't detect any human impact on the environment whatsoever.

The vistas we saw in Dusky Sound were inspiring and breathtaking, but they still weren't anything like as spectacular as we were to see in the afternoon, as we entered into the mysterious Milford Sound, enclosed on both sides by sheer cliffs of rock, that plunged straight down into the water from heights ranging from 1,000 feet, to 4,000 feet.

I was on the bridge giving a commentary of what we were seeing, but words really couldn't do justice to these majestic landscapes of brooding cliff faces, cascading waterfalls and limpid waters. You could see why Peter Jackson found these landscapes of the south island, so inspirational for his "Lord of the Rings" films.

But, perhaps the most amazing thing about our visit to Milford Sound today, was the weather, which was as spectacular as the vistas we were seeing. This is one of the wettest inhabited places on the planet – receiving over 6 metres of rain a year. In fact, they can get up to 30cms of rain in a single day here. Yet, for our stay, the weather was clear and gloriously sunny.

Rarely can the Milford Sound have looked so good – what an amazing place.