Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Drive to Milford Sound

On January 2, we were scheduled to kayak at Milford Sound. Unfortunately, with all of the rain, the road to Milford had been closed for a couple of days and we didn't know if it was going to open back up in time. Well, it didn't open in time for our 9am kayak trip, so that was cancelled, but it did open at 11am, so we were able to drive there from Te Anau for an afternoon scenic boat ride (more on that in the next post). I'd say that the drive to get there was just as, if not more beautiful than Milford Sound itself. I think the rain actually added to the amazing sights.

One of our stops along the way was Mirror Lakes, which (when it's not raining) has a lovely reflection of the mountains in the water. We didn't get to see the reflection, but the lupins were pretty. Lupins are the pink and purple wildflowers that you see everywhere when driving around New Zealand at this time of year. I couldn't get enough of them!

Because of all the rain, the water levels everywhere were high. This rushing river was super loud, and I could see why the road had been closed for a few days, as the bridge looked like it could easily be flooded.

The rain did make for spectacular waterfalls all over the rocks. It reminded me of my trip to Uluru, where it never stopped raining but gave us a unique viewing experience. This picture is just before you go through Homer Tunnel (over a kilometer long!), and the one below is the view just after going through the tunnel.

Another stop along the way is called The Chasm. You do a short walk through an extremely green forested area to see swirling water rush through deep rock holes. It was pretty cool.

These birds are called Keas, and they are the world's only alpine parrots. You see them hanging out in parking lots on the way to Milford Sound, because the tourists feed them. We even saw one Kea trying to chew on the molding of a car roof. The owner of the car didn't like that too much!

Even though it was a long, wet drive, the road to Milford Sound was one of the prettiest I've seen. I wish we could go back and experience it in the sunshine as well!

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