Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January 23rd Milford Sound

The mountains on the south Island of New Zealand are referred to as the southern alps. Because we are closer to the south pole and it is summer it is still light at 10pm at night- feels like 7pm.
I decided to take the 12 hour bus tour from Queenstown to Milford Sound which included a cruise through one of NZ fiords. As the crow flies Milford Sound is only about 60 km from Queenstown because you must go around the mountains the journey is about 200 km by road.
On the journey I found out a few tidbits about NZ in particular the south island. They have a deer problem here but unlike us who can't seem to figure out what to do they are capturing the deer in paddocks and venison meat is being sold and is very popular in some restaurants. So when I get home to hell with the backyard garden I think a deer paddock sounds good just need someone to slaughter the beasts (heather ask Tim if he wants to moonlight). The woods have no bears, foxes, cougars nor snakes. The only deadly thing in the woods are some plants so they warn you not to eat the wild mushrooms- good to know! However some research has been done on some of the plants here and it has been discovered they contain high amounts of vitamin C and other properties that can help fight viral infections. They now sell products containing the plant ingredients. Apparently Captain Cook discovered the plant with the vitamin C and fed it to his men in beer. This helped them not to get scurvy when on the long sea voyages.
The fiords were formed by glaciers but the area is also considered a rainforest. I did find out the trees that look like palm trees are native to NZ.
This part of the island is full of walking trails and the bus stopped for us to take advantage of a few short walks in the woods. However you can go on longer trail walks for up to 6 days depending on the trail (hazel maybe you and rod should come here). You can camp roughing it along the trail or you can book with a company and walk in style where you walk each day and then have nice accommodation, meals, shower and a real bed-- all I need to know is there a little man to carry my bags! Sign me up.
Much of the drive to Milford Sound was like driving the Coquihalla highway in BC except this was only a two lane highway (at least it was paved and had guard rails unlike the canyon road yesterday).
You will note I wore the appropriate boating foot attire. One month into my trip and i still have not purchased any shoes.
Milford Sound is located in the Mt Cook national Park which has been declared a world heritage sight along with places such as the Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef. It is said this park has the tallest trees, highest mountains, wildest rivers and most rugged coastline- I think BC boasts of the same attributes??
We boarded a beautiful boat for a three hour cruise up the fiords to the Tasem Sea and back (three hour cruise where have I heard that before). The sun was shining, it had finally warmed up to the low twenties (i had to buy a second fleece jacket earlier in the day as one fleece was not warm enough even on the bus). I had three hours of looking at the most incredible scenery along with waterfalls and we even got to see some furry seals sun bathing. Although the scenery was lovely, apparently when it is raining the water runs off all the mountains into the sea as one big waterfall. The fiords are a must to see and hopefully I will be back one day when it is raining. I hope you enjoy the pictures.
Well I am back to Sydney now for a week of rest until we head off to Asia so I may not be writing too much on my blog until then. Hope everyone is enjoying my travel tales.

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