Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Southern Sojourn #10

One of the reasons for spending time in Manapouri, was to take another trip to Milford Sound. We had been there only once before, in 1998, when we took my mother to visit Manapouri.

We had decided we would get to Milford early enough to get one of the first cruises of the day, as later cruises are significantly more expensive. That meant an fairly early start from Manapouri, as the Sound is a good 2 hours drive away, and we had no idea what the weather would be like en route, or at the other end.

As you can see, the weather wasn't particularly wonderful, but the clouds leant the landscape a moody and changeable aspect.

Despite the attractiveness of the landscape and temptations to pause, we didn't - promising ourselves we would once we had a cruise on the Sound and were on the return journey.

The terminal from which the cruises leave is very modern, and surprisingly large. And we clearly weren't alone in deciding to cruise early in the day, as a good-sized (& natured) crowd had already gathered.

The cruise launches are sizable, mainly modern and well-appointed.

That's ours - Juicy Lucy!

Although there are quite a variety, and some which provide overnight cruising (& therefore sleeping accommodation), and some are noticeably different.

The cruise took us right to the mouth of the Sound, and we were surprised by how many different vessels we saw - including a small cruise ship which wasn't based in Milford Harbour!

Being a Fiord, the Sound is the result of glaciation, which produced the precipitious walls and bare slopes rising to considerable heights.

And of course, there are innumerable waterfalls, some cascading from great heights with few interruptions, crashing into the rocks or sea with considerable force.

However, some of the falls only appear intermittently, after heavy rain has fallen, and when they have disgorged the surplus water, stop flowing.

If the weather is clear, Mitre Peak towers over the Harbour. And the harbour is quite busy during the season.

Although some are not at all perturbed by all the comings and goings and the hustle and bustle!

And then we'd finished our cruise.

So it was time to head back to Manapouri, there not being a lot else to do in Milford Sound unless one is equipped from walking in bush-country. And we weren't.

So it was into the car and back up to the pass and the Homer Tunnel. The climb up is steep and winding; the inland side much more moderate.

This area is just below the Tunnel on the seaward side, and I did wonder if there was any significance in the name at this jumbled, tumbled location!

Once you emerge from the Homer Tunnel, there is no mistaking that you're in alpine territory!

And there to greet you are the ever-present Keas, looking for food,

or whatever else they can steal.

And the road winds down through Beech Forest which provides some stunning glimpses of fearsome water-courses

as they roil and boil their way down to join in larger rivers.

Watched over by keas, of course!

Then back to Manapouri, to dry out and relax.

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