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Milford Sound Photo Gallery

Written by Cathy Siegismund
October 2002


We picked up a bus in Queenstown, which would take us on a four-hour ride through the mountains through Te Anau and into Fiordland. Fiordland is in the southwestern corner of New Zealand, and is a beautiful area of deep fiords, waterfalls and mountains. The bus ride took us through farmland and then into some beautiful mountain scenery.

   

The bus wound through the snow-capped mountains as we made our way to Fiordland

     

   

   

The bus stopped several times on the way out to Milford Sound, for photos and short walks along a few trails

At several of the stops, we saw one of New Zealand's most interesting birds. The Kea, the world's only alpine parrot, is extremely intelligent and playful. The kea is described as cheeky at best and destructive at worse. They have been known to kill sheep and pick rubber parts off the cars of unsuspecting hikers.

   

An inquisitive Kea, and Ken breaking any number of rules by feeding one

We finally arrived at the docks, where we boarded a large tour boat for a tour of Milford Sound.

Milford Sound tour boats

Peggy and Dorothy

Despite the rainy weather, the scenery was breathtaking, including a somewhat cloudy view of Mitre Peak. We all thought that with the steep-walled fiords and many waterfalls, we could have been in Desolation Sound in British Columbia. 

      

   

   

   

Ken and Cath on the bow of the tour boat

   

    

   

One of the many waterfalls in the sound

During the tour, there was commentary about the region and Milford Sound in particular. The boat went out to the mouth of the sound where we could definitely feel the ocean swell from the Tasman Sea. On the return trip, the captain maneuvered the large tour boat so the bow was sitting under one of the waterfalls. The deep water next to shore enables this - another similarity with Desolation Sound.

Approaching one of the large waterfalls

    

The bow of the tour boat passing through one of the many waterfalls

Our original tour had been for us to take a bus out to Milford Sound, a cruise around the sound, and then a flight back in a small plane. The road winds around the mountains and fiords for four hours to get to Milford Sound, the flight back is direct over the mountains and is about 30 minutes. We had been told at the beginning of the tour that the weather didn't look very good for the return flight, and that there was a chance the small planes would be grounded. When we boarded the boat they said it still did not look promising, and we could either take the four-hour bus ride back to Queenstown, or we could take a helicopter. We opted for the 20 minute helicopter ride rather than another four-hour bus ride. I had never been in a helicopter, and was excited to give it a try. My mom looked a little apprehensive, but was game and Peggy and Ken were of course game for anything. We were dropped off at a small building, where we paid our money to our pilot and boarded the very small helicopter.

Cath in front of the helicopter that would take us back to Queenstown

Ken and I rode in the front with our pilot and the moms rode in the back seat. That pretty much filled the helicopter. I guess the helicopters will still fly, even when the planes are grounded.

Ken and Cath in the front seat of the helicopter

They helicopters can fly lower, and if required even set down on the glaciers and wait for weather to pass. I kept telling myself this, as we were buffeted by the strong winds and hail as we flew over the mountain passes. Though I have to admit, it was pretty cool the way the pilot would bank up and over mountain saddles.

View of the snow-covered mountains from the helicopter window

After we crossed over the mountains, we had a great flight down the length of Lake Wakatipu

   

Our flight down Lake Wakatipu

We had expected to be taken to the Queenstown airport, but instead we landed in a clearing between the road and the lake where a van picked us up and drove us the final 20 minutes to Queenstown.

Disembarking from the helicopter

With our speedy return to Queenstown by air, we had time to go back to the hotel and clean up before a great dinner at a lake-side restaurant.

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