New Zealand February 1999  
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 Milford Sound 21th - 23th February

Eventually the bus picked us up and we were on our way to Milford Sound. We had some scenic stops on the way, at waterfalls and lookout points. The Chasm and just in front of the Homer Tunnel, for example. It was 1pm when we arrived at the sound and a wonderful view was waiting for us at the pier: Mitre Peak in bright sunshine :)

But we didn't spend much time there, we called the Milford Sound Lodge and few minutes later they picked us up. The Lodge is located at the south end of Deepwater Basin but first, we had a very, very nice shower ;-)

After that we went to the laundry and did some washing. There was a nice washing line behind the lodge but don't dare to hang anything out there without clothespins .. the wind will blow it off immediately. It was like a huge hairdryer and the clothes got dry very fast.

That afternoon we walked back to the cafe and we found a sign leading to a viewpoint - we decided to go there in the morning. We also explored the area behind the lodge, it's nice to sit there at the river and relax a while. In the evening we had a good dinner at the lodge, great portions, not expensive and tasty! Because it was my birthday we also had a nice Fruit n' Ice Dessert afterwards and we bought ourselves some Coke and chips in the shop.

In the morning we wanted to go on a cruise with Deepwater Cruise, so we waited in the lobby for the free shuttle to the wharf. I also asked them if they knew that some people (there were some others also waiting) were waiting for the shuttle but they didn't understand and that's why we missed the 10am cruise. :(

It was five minutes after 10am when we arrived at the wharf. We booked a cruise for the afternoon and had an ice cream in the cafe - where we met one of the Routeburn Track Walkers. She was walking into the other direction and we'd met her in the Mackenzie Hut. What a nice surprise :) We went up the hill to the lookout point before we had to head back to the wharf for our cruise. It was the smallest boat that we could find to do a cruise - max. 35 passengers and it was also the cruise which goes further out than any other. Two reasons why we chose to go on this cruise. And it was even better - the boat was not full, just 20 passengers - no fighting for seats ;-)

We cruised the whole length of the sound and a bit further, beyond the Saint Annes Point Lighthouse. When we turned around and looked towards Dale Point (the entrance of the sound) we couldn't see the sound, it's amazing - the entrance to the sound is well hidden from the sea.

On the way back we stopped at Stirling Falls - a free shower for everbody who stayed on deck. ;-) And we stopped at a seal rock - the front of the boat was above the rock - Birgit was sitting there and she was about one meter away from the seals on the rocks - or even less .. that was really close - we were very surprised about that. :)

The cruise was very good and we were happy that we'd chosen this one. We had booked to go into the Underwater Observatory at Harrison Cove, so we were dropped off at the end of the cruise. It was disappointing. It was not worth the money. It's a very small circle in the water and there are some planted "gardens" around it with some very tiny fishes swimming around. Apart from that you just see some ugly rocks, when you are lucky you may see a starfish on these rocks. There are some bigger fish swimming in the distance but it's too hazy to talk about seeing them. :(

Sometimes a Triggerfish or a Marblefish can be seen for a short moment swimming past the windows. That's all.

The best thing about the Observatory was the shuttle boat which brought us back to the wharf .. ;-) It was a fast boat with a nice top deck - that was fun :) And we saw a huuuge cruising ship coming into the sound - the "Sea Princess?" - known as the Love Boat.

On the way back to the lodge we heard some noisy birds, just a few seconds before we saw them flying around - three Keas. They sat down right in the tree we were standing beyond :) - we got a very good close look at them ;-) I watched them flying around for a while until we continued our way along the shore of the sound towards the lodge. We passed the airstrip and what we saw there was quite funny, many planes were standing around - a lot more than before (about 20, there have been 3 the day before) and we were wondering why they needed so many planes here ... Just moments later a whole lot of people (from the sea princess ?) arrived by bus and they all boarded the planes immediately and one after another took off for a scenic flight - it was weird to watch all this planes starting and flying around in this remote area.

The evening was lazy, just hanging around until it was time to cook ourselves dinner.

During dinner we met a couple from Brisbane, travelling by rental car. We talked about our trips and when we told them that we intended to catch a bus to Queenstown they asked us if we would like to get a lift - of course we liked ;-)

We had some more time to spent at the wharf in the morning because we had to wait for ? and ? to return from their morning cruise. Once again we walked down to the wharf and admired Mitre Peak with blue skies above. :)

There was also enough time to take a walk to Bowen Falls and spend some time at the shore of the sound, sitting in the sun watching the kayakers and the mountains in the morning sun. In order to pick up our bags and meet ? and ? we went back to the lodge at noon. During the drive to Queenstown we had some stops for photos, a short stop at mirror lakes - but no reflection here, a lunch stop in Te Anau and a stop at a petrol station for a huuge portion of ice cream.

In the evening we went to "The World" to get a big steak :)

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