on February 3, 2004
It’s a long drive to get there, and the cruise that we took lasted only an hour and forty-five minutes, but it was unbelievably worth it. Milford Sound took our breaths away.
Firstly, the cruise trip's logistics . . .
Red Boat Cruises offers several itineraries and schedules. Call, fax, or go online at 03.441.1137, 03.441.1197, or www.redboats.co.nz, respectively. Our tour cost
NZ$58; we opted out of the popular stop at Milford Sound’s Underwater Observatory. Our driving timetable neatly coincided with the only departure, at 1:30pm aboard the catamaran Lady Stirling, which included the option of partaking in a buffet. The other lunch choice was an appetizing "snack pack" for NZ$12, but most of us gratefully accepted the hot meal for NZ$26. A lot of people onboard didn’t know about the food being served on the first deck and, finding the smells wafting upwards irresistible, paid cash on-the-spot to grab a plate.
There’s another cruise company that serves Milford Sound -- Real Journeys. Their website is www.realjourneys.co.nz. A lot of people, too, go to Milford Sound by way of coach bus from either Te Anau or Queenstown. A few choose to fly there because, as I mentioned, it is a very long drive.
There are nearly zero concessions at Milford Sound, which is perhaps as it should be. But, because of that, good trip preparation is necessary, like a full tank of gas or the likelihood that there may be no vacant parking spaces. And there’s no food or drink, except a tiny confectionery stand next to the boat terminal. There are dew postcards or souvenirs to speak of, too.
I found Lady Bowen Falls by accident. We had arrived a bit early. There’s not much to do at the terminal, so I turned to my nearest friends, pointing, and suggested we go to the end of the dock’s boardwalk where there was a viewing platform across the small bay. My interest was just to get a good photographic angle of the docked boats. To my surprise, the boardwalk continued, snaking its way through the dense rainforest.
It terminated at the base of Bowen Falls, one of the few waterfalls of Milford Sound that flows year-round regardless of the previous day’s rain. Needless to say, I got some good photos.
Finally, the cruise trip’s description . . .
Unfortunately, I don’t have the words, so I’ll just post some of my photos. Highlights include Mitre Peak, Fairy Falls, Seal Point, and the U-turn to avoid being swallowed up by the Tasman Sea. It’s hard to comprehend that Dale Point, the entrance to Milford Sound, is just 75 feet deep while the fiord itself is more than 1,000. It is geologically, and ecologically, fascinating. Its beauty fascinates, too. We were simply awed.
Oh, right, and the New Zealand green-lipped mussels in marinara, I thought and my stomach agreed, were baked to perfection!
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