Milford - Fjord Or Sound?

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Cascade Creek Campsite.

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

As our tour boat edged up under a stunning rock face of streaming water in Milford Sound, none of the upturned faces I can comfortably say, showed any signs of unhappiness. Rapture and joy would be apt descriptions. According to some phsycologists, you cannot have unhappy thoughts in the presence of a waterfall. Then to further add some atmosphere and a feeling of "being in the moment" stereo speakers around the boat started playing a funky and sweet rendition of “Over The Rainbow” that then morphed into “What a Wonderful World”.

Milford Sound lives up to all its hype and some. It is gorgeous, stunning and the height of the mountains are just overwhelming. It is a case where no matter how the photographs are taken it cannot capture the majesty, colour and dimensions that are the 360 degree view we see.

We woke early in our campsite to an all encompassing fog but set of as soon as possible anyway. Winding our way towards Milford Sound, the road took us higher and higher and through the fog we glimpsed glaciers, ice and snow. Just before entering a famous tunnel (the Homer Pass) that opened up the area to tourism by cutting right through a mountain in the 50's, we stopped for a break and to take some photos. The brown NZ parrot called Kia is a demanding and destructive parrot and we had great fun meeting and photographing, five of these bossy birds. Check out the photos and you will see what I mean! - they even tried to eat our car trim!

After traversing the tunnel, which slopes downwards, we came out the other side to thicker fog. Soon after we came across a taped off scene, where a sign said šaccidentš on a hairpin bend with a huge drop below, but nothing visible and we wondered what had happened. We were later to find out.

As we descended the mountain towards Milford Sound the fog began to lift at a very fast rate, revealing patch after patch of blue sky. Yes!! By the time we arrived in Milford Sound we had a glorious blue sky and warming sunshine. We wasted no time booking a 11.45am boat trip and heading off to walk around the waterside walking path, to take in the views.      

Milford Sound is in fact not a “sound” at all, but a perfect fjord (ie created by a glacier). It was incorrectly named in the beginning. Then to compensate the region was named Fiordland National Park, complete with the incorrect spelling of Fjord. Futher to this history of Milford Sound, it was Captain Cook who first sighted, and wrongly named it !!. The water is extremely deep and mountains well over a kilometre high, make up the sides. Water tumbles down the sheer rock faces, often not as true waterfalls but just rainfall run off. We are told we are extremely lucky to see Milford Sound in the sunshine, as there are only around 15 days a year that it doesn’t rain and with a third day in a row with no rain they are just about to call it drought conditions!

After heading completely through the fjord right through to the Tasman sea we turned back for another gorgeous run through, stopping at a different waterfall this time and also at the Milford Discovery Centre. This centre has developed an underground viewing chamber to see the unique black coral and marine life of Milford Sound.   

Sad that it was time to end our trip, we made our way back to our camper and immediately hit the road for our next destination, Queenstown some 5 hours away. As we climbed the mountain towards the tunnel we came across a tow truck, that had recovered the vehicle from the morning’s crash and the signs and bunting were being packed up. Later we stopped to buy some food and bought a newspaper and discovered that the accident had happened the night before and that two people had died and another was seriously injured. Quite a sobering discovery and a reminder that windy, foggy roads are not to be treated lightly.  

Footnote: Milford Sound is inside Fiordland National Park which along with Westland National Park, Mt Aspiring National Park and Mount Cook (Aoraki) National Park form the Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand are UNESCO World Heritage listed area.

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warmerwhx on

Thanks !
What a lovely trip!

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