After seeing all of these people in Queenstown it was nice to see the sheep and cow farms again. Some people go to the Milford Sound as a day trip, we decided to make it a four-day stay in the nearby town on Te Anu. Milford Sound is only an hour from Te Anu. Since we aren’t camping we didnt’ stay in Milford Sound. Places are limited and more expensive there, than in the neighboring towns.
Lake Te Anau is the largest of the southern glacial lakes. This lake was within walking distance from the house we stayed in. A local resident told me how much New Zealanders love to spend time at the lake. The strange thing is the water is very cold but they don’t mind. We noticed families (all over New Zealand) set up with boats, floats and outdoor equipment spending the day at the lake shores all around town. Some of the residents wear wetsuits and some don’t. Te Anau lake is another peaceful place to enjoy the day. The shorelines to most of the lakes I’ve seen are rocky. It’s really hard to walk barefoot on the rocks but the locals have no problems.
Fiordland National Park is filled with incredible mountains. There are so many waterfalls here, you can see the water running off the sides of the mountains without hiking. It’s looks like the mountains are bleeding water and it’s beautiful. Fiordland has never had any significant permanent population therefore, it’s another natural place that hasn’t been bothered by humans and it shows.
The Chasm trail lead to a chasm carved out by water and rock naturally. I’ve never heard of a chasm until seeing this and it’s stunning. The rocks are huge like the stone ages and have carved smooth holes, cups and tunnels from the with a rushing flow of crystal clear water going through them.
The Routeburn trail to the Key Summit was the second most spectacular hike I’ve ever done in my lifetime. It’s steep and mostly uphill but the views and the stunning body of water on top of the mountain was worth it. The trail is through a forest where everything is covered in sphagnum moss. Sphagnum moss dominates most of the wetlands and can hold twenty five times it weight in water. Seeing this moss everywhere made the area look like a fairytale land. Alpine tarns, shrub land and bogs were all along the trail. After a 90 minute hike we reached the very top and just sat there in awe. The power of Mother Nature is so overwhelming without making a single sound.
Another beautiful sight is Mirror Lake. The water is clear, still and reflects the image from the sky. Underwater are rocks and sticks covered in moss. These are places I’ve only seen on television so it’s almost surreal seeing it in real life. There is a power in seeing all this nature on this massive scale. I can only describe it as perfect.
The Homer Tunnel runs through a huge mountain almost a mile wide. Every year they have a naked tunnel race through the tunnel for charity. I imagine is freezing cold but fun. State Highway 94 passes through the tunnel, linking Milford Sound to Te Anau and Queenstown.
Milford Sound is one of the rainiest places on the planet. It gets two and a half times the rainfall then the Amazon. This is also in the area of fiordlands in New Zealand. There are many sounds, trees and waterfalls within the Fiordlands National Park. This is also home to some of the tallest waterfalls in the world.
There are three famous hikes at the Milford Sound. The Milford Sound is the most popular and hikers start hikes that last for days from here. They hike for hours and then stay in these huts int he middle of the mountains for the night, only to hike further the next morning. The huts are bare boned rooms with cots, a hot plate and bathroom (no hot water) and the hiker supplies everything else. It’s shelter and safety for the night. We started our hike with a couple of guys who were starting a 3 day hike and planned to hike six hours before resting. That doesn’t sound like a fun time to me but I can understand why someone would like that.
The Kea parrot is a national treasure in New Zealand and are also an endangered species. They are the only parrot the lives in the mountains and are native to New Zealand’s alpine mountains. I’ve only seen them in the wildlife park in Christchurch. While parked at a lookout in the fiordland, a kea came running up to the car. I gave him a piece of bread and this lady started screaming at me “no no no!”. Her husband told me not to feed them because it was bad for their health. I said okay and stopped but I was pissed they even approached me. At the next lookout I saw another kea hanging around and getting fed apples by tourist. I pulled out a small piece of bread and threw it at the kea. A man comes up to me and says “you know your killing them right?”. This time I turned into an instant smart ass. He also tells me that I know better because I see the signs and heard this before – I get nasty back. Now my mood has taken a turn and I’m pissed overall.
The next stop we go to there is a big sign posted that reads “never feed the kea”. It causes them to beg and in turn end up dying from getting hit by cars in busy areas. This made sense to me and I spent the rest of the day feeling bad for being such an asshole to the people who tried to warn me. In other words, this bird got me in big trouble today and that puts him on my shit list of birds. He was still beautiful though and it was nice to see them in all their glory.
Grabbing an electric fence was a painful experience. After seeing a farm of alpacas we pulled over to take their picture. They were so close to the fence I got excited and held onto the fence to pull my body up and literally got the shock of my life through both hands. Note to self, don’t ever touch a wire fence. I always wondered why the animals never crossed and now I know.
Next stop is Wanaka New Zealand. . .