Friday, 28 February 2014

Sheer Drops and Awesome Rocks: Enter the Sound

Boats and Bros - Milford Sound

After staying for around a week in Queenstown, it was time to move on to the next part of our journey, to take in the spectacular Milford Sound and the surrounding area. Although it was initially very hard to move on again after meeting so many great people, it was much easier once we were once again driving through the stunning isolated beauty of the largely flat winding road, with very few other cars driving in each direction.

The Road through the Fiordland

Having lived in Sevenoaks; what I would class as a 'small' town in the south east of England, just off the busy M25 ring road around greater London, it was still very strange for me to see such little traffic for such a huge stretch at a time, and even then with only a couple of cars, it often made me wonder what driving must have been like not only recently before the motorways were opened, but even before that, as Cars are only a very recent invention. The ability to travel so freely, even on roads such as the two lanes in and out of the wilderness to the sounds is still truly remarkable to me and, coupled with the availability of cheap flights really means that, within reason, there really is nowhere on earth that it is, in the current age, impossible to get to.

The Alpine Flats

These deeper thoughts flicked through my head intermittently in between the awesome selection of classic rock and the freshest Australian hip-hop from last century provided by navigator in chief, MC Jonny Davies.

Stopping for several breaks to admire the view, and go for some easy circuit walks around lakes, which I would really recommend if you have time to get a feel for the area, we stopped to camp for the night before heading out early the next morning to see the sights of the Sound.

J.K. Davies enjoying a Coffee and Nature. His two favourite things

We drove up early, leaving the tent at the campsite, to get on a Jucy Cruze which we had  booked really cheap through the last minute ticket website bookme which I would highly recommend checking in Queenstown before booking a tour through a travel agent. The breakfast and UNLIMITED FREE COFFEE provided in the price was much more than we had hoped for, and while our boat didn't go all the way out to sea, the views and wildlife we saw were definitely worth the money. 

The tour guides and staff on the boat were very helpful and friendly, explaining not only the landscape, but also providing a lot of information about the area and answering any questions that visitors had. We even got lucky and got up close to some of the native penguins which was a particular highlight.

If I was only looking to do a shorter trip in New Zealand I would definitely put Milford Sound, or at least a trip to another Fiordland attraction in the top sights to see as the landscape truly is breathtaking.

Milford Sound

The feeling that I got on the cruise reminded me of the scene in the Fellowship of the Rings where the company are heading down the river after their meeting with Galadriel and the elves following their escape from the mines of Moria. Although not the same location, the sheer size and epic faces of the rock really give a sense of the vast power and force of nature.

Returning from the sound, we packed up the tent and car, and with glorious weather decided that as it was still morning we had time for the Key summit walk, which is signposted to take on average 2-3 hours. Although I regretted applying too much sun cream to the forehead, with the sweat making it run and sting my eyes for a short time (school boy error) the walk was a success and very enjoyable. There are several such walks along the route and I would highly recommend doing several or at least a few to experience the alpine wildlife and vegetation.

The view from the Key Summit

 The next step of our trip was to take us towards the south and Invercargill, and it was with a great couple of days behind us we headed towards the final stages of our visit to New Zealand.

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