Milford Sound: The 8th World Wonder
Milford Sound is a fiord in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s known for towering Mitre Peak, plus rainforests and waterfalls, which plummet down its sheer sides. The fiord is home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins. This is probably the most visited sights in all of New Zealand. There are multiple ways to see Milford Sound. (1) My preferred option would have been to do the 3-4 day hike through the Fjord National Park, camped, and be on with nature. (2) Take a 2 hour cruise. (3) Kayak and get really up close and personal with the fjords and waterfalls. We opted for option 2 because time, weather, and money restrictions. Although it was still $125NZD, it was the cheapest of all three options and since this was a day trip from Queenstown, it was the best option for us.
Since we've been driving so much, we opted for taking the couch since it's a 4-5 hour drive from Queenstown and having to do that there and back didn't feel enjoyable at all. The bus picked us up at 7:15am. The driver was this really good Frenchman who has been living in NZ for more than 20 years. He was driving like a pro, I mean I hope so since it's his job, but he was just so graceful through all the windy roads, while spilling just endless amounts of information and facts about the area. He had a really soothing voice so I was dozing in and out but the moments when I was awake and listening, I was so interested.
Here are some interesting facts:
- Fly fishing has become a huge tourist attraction in New Zealand so you won't find brown or rainbow trout anywhere in the grocery stores or restaurants. Fishing guides also have a "catch and release" methodology.
- Rainbow trout was introduced to NZ from Europe and brown trout from the US.
- The reason that area has such a great fish population is because sheep and cows live very dispersed throughout the reason and sheep get moved to a different location every summer. In turn, there is less animal droppings and such so it keeps the water clean.
- NZ has pledged to bring their pollution to the level it was in 1995 by 2040. The way they will be doing this is feeding their cows and sheep food that contains the raw material that makes linen. Apparently this helps the animals flatulate less so they will produce less methane gas.
- Milford Sound was named after the founder's hometown of Milford then Captain Cook added 'sound' a few years later.
- Milford Sound is not a sound but a fiord because a 'fiord' is a 'U' shaped area shaped by melted glacier and is connected to the ocean. A 'sound' is a 'V' shaped area shaped by rivers. It is also much smaller and more shallow than a fiord.
- There is a fern that stays green year round and can grow up to 3,000m in diameter but in the area, it can only grow up to about 300m in diameter before it gets uprooted.
- The fern's roots are pretty shallow and since the area was carved out by a glacier, it's surrounded by rocks so makes it hard for the tree to grow. They need better soil, which comes from dead trees and such.
We made a few stops along the way before head to the port for our cruise. It's when you are outside that you realize how small you are compared to everything around you. You are like a speck living in a grand planet. It's just amazing and beautiful to witness and live in.
Our cruise was a little under 2 hours sailing out in the fiord and coming back. We got really lucky with the weather because it was a beautiful sunny day but since it just rained the night before, we were surrounded by tons of waterfalls. And since it is now fall entering winter, the mountains are covered in snow. We got the best of all that nature can give you. Our driver said that day was the best it has been in months. Don't get me wrong, it was still really cold since we were outside most of the time but I'm so glad it didn't rain. Even better, we were accompanied by a whole pod of dolphins!!! I have never seen this many dolphins in one area before. There were at least 15-20 of them swimming all around us. They were jumping up through the water, swimming next to us, and on the way back swimming right beneath us to take advantage of the drift of the boat. A worker told us that they only see that many dolphins probably once a month and they see a few maybe every 10 days or so. Which means, we were beyond beyond lucky.
On the way back, the captain sailed us right under a giant waterfall. Of course, we thought it would be a good idea to stand outside, in the front, to experience the spray. No one else thought this was a good idea besides us... We got drenched! But so worth it. I mean, when do you get to do something like that? There's a video of us getting sprayed and being silly for willingly standing out there. The next silly thing was since we were the only ones out in the front, we decided to have a dancing spree (all caught on tape of course). I bet now everyone really thinks were just 3 really weird Asian girls.
Milford Sound was definitely astonishingly beautiful! It's massive size and serenity, really takes your breath away.
After the cruise, we had another 4.5 hours to drive before getting back home to Queenstown. I tried sleeping but they put on this Kiwi movie from back in the day and I was hooked. It was such a cute movie! It was about a kiwi guy wanting to get to Utah to race in Speed Week and break the record of going 200mph in his Indian Motorcycle.