Welcome to Fiordland

December 17 – Narrated by Alaina with some commentary by Mike

After a rainy night, we woke up to the clouds burning off and what looked like a beautiful day! The one thing we have learned, is never trust the weather. Fiordland weather can change in minutes, so while hopeful, we tried to be realistic. Needing to be at the cruise launch, Mike and I realized we have this camping thing down. I go shower, he puts the camper back together. He goes to shower and I get breakfast and coffee ready. Having minimal luggage also helps the entire process.

We arrived to the Real Journeys dock for our days excursion. Doubtful Sound can only be reached by boat. So we had to take a boat, get on a coach and then get on the boat that takes us through the Sound. Complicated logistics to be sure, but they have this entire process down pat. While on the first boat out, we met Ivan, a beautifully bearded kiwi (Mike’s description), who has been working for Real Journeys the past couple months, after going cross country in the states for three months. We had a great conversation including the story of him scalping tickets to a Taylor Swift concert in St. Paul and driving to Maine, getting off the first exit to avoid tolls, having breakfast and heading back south.

The first boat ride is breathtaking in itself. Everywhere you turn, there is natural beauty. Visiting Fiordland is a lifelong dream for me, so I am deliriously happy with all that we are experiencing. We pulled up to the dock and were immediately shuttled onto the busses. The ride was scenic on its own as well. The trees are magical! Because they get extensive rain, there were waterfalls, moss, and lots of cliffs and I give Mike credit for not freaking out as we drove along a ledge that would have given anyone a panic attack.

 Finally we reached the boat. As we were waiting to hop on, we struck up a conversation with a British family. Well, they are now members of our extended family. We immediately hit it off with Simon, Dizzy, Kristina (14) and John (11), so much so that we hope to meet up with them when we get to the northern part of the South Island. They live about an hour north of London and love to travel as a family. We all enjoyed seeing the amazing fiords together and ended up becoming quite the motley crew.

 Doubtful Sound, a massive array of fiords, was named when Captain Cook came across them but refused to allow his crew to go in and explore because he was “doubtful” he could get out due to the wind patterns. The sound goes over 400 meters deep in some parts and was created over millions of years by glaciers. Not only do the fiords dominate the skyline, but there is an amazing array of underwater sea life due to salt water and fresh water merging.

  If you are to go to New Zealand this is a must do. We saw waterfalls, hundreds of green & snow-capped mountains, Dolphins, seals and just the sheer scope of the Sound was astounding. I may have taken upwards of 400 photos because everywhere you looked, it was a different but gorgeous view. Our tour guide informed us that one area of the Sound was actually the original aerial shot for Jurassic Park (the original) but after 3 months of straight rain Spielberg had to call it off & move the scene to Costa Rica. Mike spent the rest of the trip quoting the movie around every turn.

  Once we docked, we said goodbye to our friends, did some errands in town (parents and grandparents postcards are sent!) and set out for Milford Sound with the plan to camp at one of the many Department of Conservation sites along the way.

Many people fly or take a bus into Milford. I was adamant we drive because I had heard such wonderful things about the road. We stopped to camp about 60km out and I am already awestruck. The mountains, rivers and the variety of plants that are currently in bloom is stunning. We came around a bend and while Mike didn’t see, I made him turn off at the next stop because there was a river with thousands of lupine in bloom. Purples, lilacs, pinks and whites, all in this river bed with the mountains watching from above. It was magnificent and the smell! It was natures version of its own candle.

 We have arrived to our campsite and there are an estimated 20-30 campers/vehicles. The location is in the valley of the mountains, a waterfall sits to our left, a river to our right, and the lupine everywhere. I don’t think we could ask for a better place to rest. So far, Fiordland is magical.

2 thoughts on “Welcome to Fiordland

  1. Absolutely stunning photography not to mention the writing. You two shouldbe treavel writers. Well done!
    Love, Mom

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