Saturday, February 18, 2012

Milford Sounds to Kingston

 Pink highlight is where we stayed & the blue highlight are places we stopped at,clicking on images will enlarge them

Woke up around 7am, temperature was 15 degrees, a good start to the day. Today we were going to Milford Sounds hopefully to do a cruise. By the time we had breakfast we left around 8.15am.

Leaving Te Anau you have the lake on your left for quite some time & we noticed a lot of Freedom camp areas along this stretch of road, some just a small area, others a bit more secluded & more facilities i.e a toilet.We decided to check one of them out which was set near the lake with nice bush sites,thinking maybe stopping on the way back from the Sounds.Peter asked someone about the sandflies,yes there were quite a few ,so that was the end of that.

The closer we got to Milford the mistier it seemed to get & the scenery changed, huge slate colored mountains on each side & the more patches of snow we could see. We arrived at the Homer Tunnel which takes you through to Milford, as it is only one way the traffic was stopped to let the outgoing traffic through. On our left were the remnants of snow at the base of a mountain, as well as larger amounts on the surrounding mountains, a very spectacular sight against the slate grey.

Once through the tunnel the mist was higher so the view was clearer, it was a very windy steep descent into Milford with small waterfalls trickling down the rock face from the small amount of drizzle it was a fantastic sight,looked like white tentacles against the slate grey mountains.

It was like pit street already when we arrived at 9.30am,once parked we walked over to the Wharf terminal, a big area set up with a large parking bays for buses only, we wanted to change our time. We got our two for the price of one cruise with Mr Jucy $75 which we paid for in Te Anau but we wanted to change it from 1.15pm to the 11.15am one, which was not a problem.

After we had sorted the time out we went for a walk along the waterfront, taking pictures as I do, didn’t think they would turn out as it was still quite misty on top of the mountains & slightly overcast with a bit of drizzle.Peter’s friends were here as well….he wasn’t glad to see them…Te Namu….guess who they are…..

 Also took the walk along the waterfront which went into another short walk with various vegetation & views of the sounds. Once we arrived back we had a coffee at the café then made our way over to the Wharf ready for our trip.

We left on time the scenery & cliffs with instant waterfalls were spectacular,there are also two permanent waterfalls, the others were because of the drizzle.

 Points of interest guide

The scenery was lovely even with the drizzle, more annoying than anything. The skipper/captain gave a commentary as we went along pointing out various land marks & other information, he pulled over near a seal colony so we could get a better look.

Then we continued along till we reached the Tasman Sea,which is where we turned around. On the way back the boat pulled in really close to the Stirling falls, so much so that you actually got quite wet…but it was great to see the force of the water tumbling down into sea.

 Stirling Falls

Drops 146 metres from a beautiful U shaped hanging valley carved out between Elephant and Lion Mountains. Stirling Falls is the second largest permanent waterfall in the fiord and is fed by glaciers situated in the mountains behind. Named after Captain Stirling when he brought the HMS Cleo into Milford Sound during the 1870’s.

Penguin sheltering under the board walk

Mirror Lake on the way back from Milford Sounds

We arrived back in Te anau around 3.30pm,decided on fish & chips for lunch from a little takeaway we had seen the day before, still a bit wet, but we managed to eat our fish & chips out the front without getting drenched.

The landscaped changed yet again as we headed toward Queenstown, hills & flat farm land.

Decided to stay at Kingston the night, just out of Queenstown, home of the Kingston Flyer, we went on that when Joshua was one…now how long ago was

 Only a very small park, clean & tidy with camp kitchen & TV room, but if it poured & there were more than 5 campers there would be no room in those places,$36 for the pleasure of no power & a not very friendly host.We watched a little TV then made tea, chicken & mushroom soup.

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