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Saturday 1 March 2003
|Mitre Peak from Cruise Boat on Milford Sound|
Somehow Scott (head guide) got out of bed after getting back later than me from the previous nights activities and used a bullhorn to wake everyone up at 7:00. I had a mild headache, - I couldn’t tell if it was a hangover, or from only getting 4 ˝ hours sleep. Breakfast was nice, then we packed our stuff (mine went into a bin liner ) and returned borrowed equipment.
The cruise of Milford Sound started at 9:00, and before this, I walked round to Bowen falls, where there was a swarm of sandflys. I saw something I didn’t expect to see though, - a yellow eyed penguin standing almost under the boardwalk – very cute.
The water of the sound was amazingly clear, you could easily sea the keel of the large cruise boat, and it’s shadow on the bottom many metres down, while it was at the wharf. We got on the boat 15 minutes early, and all those on the open decks (myself included) were eaten alive by a cloud of sandflys. Soon though the boat was underway, ridding us of the flies.
We cruised out along the southern shore to the sea, then back along the northern shore. The mountains and cliffs surrounding the Sound were amazing, in how sheer and steep they were. The water was a beautiful green. The day was overcast, but dry. We saw several seals, some swimming, some on rocks swatting sandflys, and one catching fish. There were several waterfalls in the Sound too.
|View of Milford Sound from its Mouth|
As we neared the sea, the mountains became slightly less steep. The Tasman was like a pond – only ripples. There was an enormous fault-line going up one of the mountains, which divides the Pacific and Australasian tectonic plates. It apparently causes one earthquake per day which can be felt. It would be so much nicer to cruise the Sound on a sailboat, or a kayak with no droning engine noise though. The cruise lasted 1 ˝ hours.
After getting off the boat, we went straight onto the guided walks bus, bound for Te-Anau. We drove through amazing scenery. I found myself wishing we could stop for a while to look at the views of steep sided snow capped ranges. Every so often there would be a ribbon of water flowing off the mountain – This would be awesome in rain!
After climbing a long way we came to the homer tunnel – very narrow and rough cut. I see why it was a big deal finding Mackinnon Pass now, the area is just so amazingly steep. We came out of the tunnel above the snowline, and followed the Hollyford valley down for a long way through rugged snowy mountains.
As the mountains turned back to hills, we stopped for toilets and to distribute lunch which was eaten on the bus. I was feeling very sleepy on the bus. We soon arrived back in Te-Anau where we had about 15 minutes to say goodbye to those going on to Queenstown. It was all over.
I checked into the hostel, and spend the afternoon doing domestic stuff – washing, shopping and packing my pack for the Kepler. I had some nice takeaway Chinese for dinner, sitting on the lake shore, then went to bed early.