New Zealand II

Trip Start Oct 18, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Day 31: Time to leave Queenstown and head to Milford Sound. We had booked an overnight cruise on a small 12 person boat through the sound. The closer we got to Milford Sound, the more outstanding the scenery got. There was an Indian guy on our wine tour the day before who claimed to have been on many of the world's scenic drives, and this one was his favorite. It was easy to see why! There was even a tunnel through a mountain that had taken 18 years to build in the early 1900's. While we waited for 15 minutes for people to come through from the other side, we watched the keas (mountain parrot in New Zealand) pick at the rubber on somebody else's windshield. Those birds are crazy!

The closest town to Milford Sound is an hour away, so when we arrived at the boat docks that was pretty much all there was to it. We got on the boat and met our companions for the journey; Margaret and Sheila were two older ladies from Vancouver, B.C., Roger and Laura were a couple about our age from London, and the crew, Royden, the skipper, and Jan.

Milford Sound is basically a very deep (~1000 ft) sound surrounded by mountain peaks between 3000 and 4000 ft. Also, since it rains an average of about 7 meters of rain a year, there is a layer of fresh water on top of the salt water. Since the light reflects differently, the water looks black even though it is quite clear. We set out after all the day boats were back, and there were only a few other boats out there. On the tour, we saw a few New Zealand fur seals, Fiordland Crested penguins (I like penguins), and a couple of very cool waterfalls. This was a very cool boat trip! It is very diffucult to appreciate how big everything is until you see one of the other boats against the mountains across the sound. The three story boats looked very tiny in comparison.

That evening, Roger taught us a new card game called S**thead. We'll teach it when we get back.
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