Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Milford Sound

Today we took a coach (charter bus) to Milford Sound. I have to say this is probably my least favorite 'day adventure'. We opted to ride the coach bus because we were told it was easily a 4.5 hour drive and we could possibly need snow chains if it snowed (we booked 48 hours in advance). In reality, it takes 4.5 hours to drive with photo stops, 3.5 hours straight and we didn't ever need snow chains because New Zealand has had such a mild winter.

With all that said, it was nice to not have to drive. The aggravating part was that Real Journeys, the company we booked with, decided to double book the coach we were on. As a result, we went at least 30 minutes out of our way for an additional drop off, waited another extra 30 minutes for late guests going to Doubtful Sound and did not get all of our promised photo opportunities on our way out. In fact we only got one at Mirror Lakes (below). Bottom line, for the first time on this whole trip, I regretted our decision. We should have driven ourselves.

But that is all in the past now. And on the positive side, Jay got to study and I got to nap so it wasn't a total loss. As for the cruise on Milford Sound, it was worth it. We took a Nature Cruise which included a picnic lunch with hot soup and we had a trained guide about the wildlife.

Just as we started eating lunch, we got lucky and saw a bunch of dolphins with calves. She said its the most calves she has ever seen in the sound! Dolphins normally ride in front of boats so they can coast on the pressure wave the bow creates. Our guide said that's called 'cruising'

She also knew a lot about the surrounding wildlife and vegetation. A few fun facts, birds and bats are the only native animal to New Zealand. All other animals were introduced by humans.

Aside from the dolphins, we saw a decent number of Fur Seals. Unlike the ones we saw at Abel Tasman, these seals are adolescent males who were kicked out of the colony until maturity. Just like teens, they were being lazy.

The views were amazing, too! Above is what is called a floating valley because the walls of the valley are above the water level of the neighboring valleys. Even though it was a wet day and slightly disappointing, I am glad we went to Milford Sound, I would just do it differently next time. Jay and I would drive ourselves. The drive really is not that bad even though you have to backtrack to come home.

If you're short on time, I would say you could skip Milford Sound. I have seen a similar sound on the east coast of Canada. Honestly, just like a brewery, a sound is a sound. I would say we saw a bit more wildlife on this cruise, but the scenery was more dramatic in Canada.

After our long day, we headed to Winnie's for pizza. Winnie's is a gourmet pizza bar that is known for using different ingredients. Jay and I both got small pizzas and split them. I took a coworkers' advice and got toppings that sounded interesting, i.e. Moroccan Lamb. My pizza had deliciously cooked lamb, a mint yogurt drizzle and zucchini. Jay got their version of the meat lovers which was loaded with game meat. We washed the pizzas down with locally brewed beers and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

It was a long day with a few frustrations, but it's our vacation, so we tried to embrace every last moment and enjoyed them all. Now we're getting ready for some bungy jumping!