South Island: Milford Sound

Saturday April 14th
(A note to those who read this via your email: if you go to the web page there are lots of links to all of my photos and the videos of my bungee jumps! Please check it out!)

I forgot to mention last blog what our camp site was like in Queenstown! It was called Qbox and it was the coolest place we stayed at. The campsites (aka where you park your car) were powered which is always a plus and the bathroom was pretty big so there was never a line too long to wait in for a hot shower. The best part was that there was a kitchen and a common room with a patio and a fire pit that we could use at any time. The best part of THAT was that each of these rooms was made from recycled materials. They were actually storage containers that the owners had turned into livable space. Everyone was welcome for a really modest price and if you were so inclined you could pitch a tent and sleep under the stars (which I was not). All of the different hostels and camp sites were well known to the local businesses in Queenstown so whenever you booked a trip or event there was an awesome option where they would pick you up from your driveway. We took advantage of that quite a bit. Qbox was great because it was close enough to town to walk but far enough away that it was really quiet at night. I really enjoyed staying there.

Yet again we had to wake up early to go on our next adventure, this time to Milford Sound to see the Fiord lands. Did we make it? No. I was in charge of the keys so I had to wait for everyone to get up and out of the van so I could lock it up before we left. Even though I was playing ‘mom’ and kept giving time checks a couple of the girls just couldn’t shake their morning sleepiness. Luckily Laura and TJ were able to make it to where the bus was meeting us and let our driver know we were on our way. He had to pick up other people so he told them he would be back in ten. Which he was. And luckily we were all ready this time. I was perfectly content to sit on the bus and take a three hour tour of the area leading up to Milford. Laura was my bus-buddy which I was really excited about since we hadn’t spent much time together since she was doing a lot of the driving in the other van. Unfortunately our seating arrangement wasn’t so great for her. The night before I wasn’t feeling well at all and had a particularly violent coughing fit. I’ll spare you the details but I ended up breaking some blood vessels in my right eye. It looked pretty weird and Laura has a “thing” about eyes so every once-in-a-while she would look right at it and couldn’t help but cringe. I felt bad at first but I couldn’t really do anything about it and I think she started to get used to it after a while, but definitely stopped looking at me directly when we talked. All thirteen of us weren’t on the same cruise so a bunch of people didn’t see me until much later that night. I had pretty much forgotten it happened so when they asked me about what happened to my eye I would get a little alarmed until I remembered what they were talking about. It kind of became a joke that lasted the rest of the trip. Anyway, I have to admit I think the majority of us slept for the first hour or so, I know I did. I felt guilty missing some of the scenery (that I had paid to see) but I needed the rest more. As we got closer we made a bunch of cool stops to admire the various natural wonders we crossed. Our driver was also our tour guide and he was really nice, and very enthusiastic. There were lots of great photo-ops and by the time we made it to our boat we were all wide awake and ready for the fiord lands.

It was a very nice, calm boat ride out into the setting sun (which made it a little difficult to see and take pictures) but the ride back up the sound was well worth the long bus ride. There were waterfalls everywhere you turned and usually a rainbow or two as well. We were able to get in really close to the base of one of the falls. It was incredible. It always amazes me in a childish kind of way that they don’t run out of water. It sounds silly and overly simplistic, but I always find myself expecting to see the water eventually lessen and stop. I just can’t fathom it. Anyway, after gaping at the falls and getting sufficiently soaked we saw one of the other main attractions of the sound, seals! It was perfect timing actually. I had just gone inside to get a coffee to warm me up when one of the crew members told me to hurry to the bow of the boat so I could get a good view. I assumed he had meant a good view of the Fiords and I was very pleasantly surprised to see the seals basking in the warmth of the sun and completely oblivious to us. Well, all but one was oblivious to us. A smaller and, I assume, young seal slid off his rock and began briskly playing in the water around the boat, staying a safe distance away, but close enough to get lots of attention. He was really amusing. After that it was a relatively short stint back to the docks and onto the bus again for the journey home. It didn’t take us nearly as long to get back since we weren’t stopping anymore and since it was dark out I had no qualms about taking another nap.

It was pretty late by the time we got back to the vans and the other group was already back. We were too relaxed to go out to town so we congregated in the common room of the camp site and watched a movie. The group slowly dissipated and went to bed. I was watching the movie and working on my journal while a couple of the boys had a few drinks. Well, a few drinks turned into a drinking game and before I knew it the movie was over and I had to help two pretty drunk guys to bed. Bed, of course, being a campervan full of other sleeping people. I had my work cut out for me. One went to sleep relatively quickly and quietly (thank God), but the other…. he was a little bit of work. Let me remind you that we are pretty far south at this point so the days and especially the nights were pretty darn chilly. I thought I had my friend all set and ready for bed when he had to get up again. And, of course, he left the door open. I got out and closed it after him, waited up until I knew he was back and in the van with the door closed, and then I went to sleep. BUT. At some time during the night he woke up again, left the van, and left the door open. And when he eventually came back he got into bed, also not closing the door. Boys. Needless to say we weren’t so happy when we woke up frozen the next morning and I still haven’t stopped teasing him about it yet.
Fun Fact: When Captain Cook was exploring the Pacific he sailed right passed Milford thinking that it was just a cove. It wasn’t until much later in 1820 that he went into the concealed entrance to the Tasman Sea and saw what was behind the Fiords. The sound is 10 miles long and has countless waterfalls, some of which are permanent and constantly cascading but others only appear after it has rained, which is quite frequently.

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