Kevin was our driver for the day and after telling us all about the glacial lakes, how the Remarkables range came to formed and the earthquake that changed the course of the Kawaru River he let those who were tired catch up on some sleep as the first part of the drive through Garston to Te Anau, the halfway point. It was raining when we arrived but by the time we left the sun had come out and things were looking up for our cruise but first we had to get to the other side of the Southern Alps. It was on into the Hollyford Valley and we stopped in the Upper Hollyford to take some photos where we, aside from the many other tour buses, we had some surprise guests who were very bold and curious.
From here we made our way up to the Homer Tunnel which is in the middle of an avalanche zone and stopping is actually prohibited. We could see evidence of fairly recent avalanches on the sides of the roads but luckily the road was open for us.
On the other side of the tunnel the sky was clear with just a few clouds hanging about. We stopped at the Chasm viewing area as we wound our way down to the coast. It is quite spectacular with its unique, smoothed and moulded looking boulders.
Once at Milford Sound we joined up with the other hundreds of tourist and ushered onto a large catamaran motor yacht where we had our designated area to sit while we had our picnic lunches. As soon as we were done though we went to the upper deck which was open for great views as we motored out through the Sound towards the Tasman Sea.
Just at the entrance, where the Milford Sound meets the Tasman sea we turned around and headed back. The whole cruise lasted about two hours.
The captain, who gave us a running commentary as we cruised along, then came on to announce that we would be sailing right under one of the waterfalls and to take care if we didn’t want to get wet. At this point I quickly hid my Canon 550D away, not wanting to risk what had happened at the Victoria Falls earlier this year, so I didn’t get any photos of the action. However it was quite incredible as the captain manoeuvred the bow of the boat right under this waterfall and before reversing out again, while those of us on the top deck got quite wet.
It looked like we had been lucky with the weather on the outward journey as it started to cloud over as we made our way back.
It was then back onto the bus for the long journey home, thankfully Kevin had organised a movie for us in the bus. It was called The World’s Fastest Indian with Anthony Hopkins; the life story of New Zealander Burt Munro, who spent years building a 1920 Indian motorcycle — a bike which helped him set the land-speed world record at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967. Not a bad film worth watching.
We made it back to the hostel in time to still get some free soup and shower before it was off to the World Bar again to join Kiwi Crawl, an organised pub crawl to 6 different bars with a free drink at each and pizza along the way. It was a fairly quiet night in some of the clubs but as the evening progressed dance floors filled up and we only got back to the hostel some time after 2:00am probably much to the annoyance of our dorm mates.