The World Around Us

Magnificent Milford Sound

Country: New Zealand by Lisette

08-03-2005

106-lawinerestenWSlowly making my way south to create a true round-trip of New Zealand’s Southern Island, I ended up taking a daytrip to Milford Sound. My best advise for a budget traveler is to save every penny you have and head down – it’s worth it!

I did the “standard” day trip from Queenstown; a long drive (5 hours one-way) with not always much to see on the road.

I was lucky to wiz past some leftover snow from last year’s avalanches as well as fresh snow on the mountain passes. (Exciting moments for a Dutch with no mountain and snow experience!

Arriving at Milford Sound I realized how touristy it really is (they receive over half a million visitors per year, often closer to one million) and hoped it wasn’t some sort of trap. It isn’t! There’s a reason it is named one of the top travel destinations (Trip Advisor, 2008). Of course it was crowded on the boat… err, cruise, but the views of the fjord and the waterfalls was worth it.

Milford Sound is part of the Fiordland National Park “where mountains and valleys compete for room and where rainfall is measured in metres”. Originally thought to be a sound, the area is a fjord.

107-Milford-SoundWWhat’s a fjord or fiord?

I did a little Google research and here’s what I learned in a moment’s time. A fjord is “a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion” according to Wikipedia.  Apparently, a fjord has a typical U-shaped valley in an area where the glaciation extended below current sea level. What this means is that the connected sea fills it up, causing the neck of the fjord to be shallower.

What is there to see?

Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea and showcases high cliffs, intimidating you. (Or so I thought.) The sound has two falls you can see at any given time: Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls.

I was lucky enough to see heaps and heaps of temporary falls due to heavy rainfall. As I’m reading up on the sound I realize these falls are fed by rainwater-drenched moss.

By the way, listen well to the guides and make sure you dress warm for the cruise. I wore only a fleece and was freezing cold. Luckily I had just bought a hat that at least kept my head warm. Waterproof clothing is also useful.

What about the hiking?

I have not walked around on my day trip, but many told me it is gorgeous, though some trails are considered to be a bit tougher. The views and the chance to see unique plants and animals to this area make it well worth the time investment. Some hikes are on the beach, others in the rainforest and alpine vistas.