We are now in the bustling town of Wanaka having spent the last few days in the Fjordland region of Southern New Zealand and visiting Milford Sound.
We stayed in the ‘frontier’ little town of Te Anau which seems to have as many hotel rooms as it does houses. It is very much a tourist town as it is the gateway to both Milford and Doubtful Sounds. It also provides services to local sheep farmers and businesses.
I have been to Milford on seven or eight occasions now and I enjoy it every time. I always see something different and it’s rugged grandeur is stunningly scenic.
Even the 115km road in to the Sound is full of interest. Not far out of Te Anau is the famous Te Anau Downs Station. The station is an 8800ha freehold property situated 27km north of Te Anau and was founded in 1859. As we passed, we could see thousands of sheep penned in the holding yards awaiting shearing in the enormous shearing shed. Just near the property is the jetty from which the launch takes the Milford Track walkers to Glade House at the head of the lake to start the four day Milford Track Walk. Passing this jetty brought back many memories including one of the photo I have of myself and David waiting there to depart on the first time that we walked the track.
The road maintained its interest as we continued further north-west along the broad Eglinton River Valley. The sparkling water and the wide areas of grassland with a snow covered mountain backdrop always reminds me of the scenery in those cinerama movies of the wild west that I saw as a kid.
Further on, the road starts to climb over a pass called ‘The Divide’. This is where I finished my walk along the Routeburn Track and waited for the Tracknet Bus to get back to Queenstown. More great memories! A little further, the road climbs up the rugged valley of the Hollyford River until it reaches the Homer Tunnel and then descends through a series of hair pin bends to eventually finish at the Milford Sound visitor centre.
As most people know, Milford Sound is really a Fjord, carved out by glaciers between 15 million and 20,000 years ago. It is quite awe inspiring to look up from the sea and observe mountains that tower over 1km straight above you. Of course the most famous view is of Mitre Peak at the head of the Sound although every cliff face and peak just adds to the majesty of this place.
We finished our boat cruise at 3:00 pm and then had the joy of seeing all of this fabulous scenery on the way ack to Te Anau.