Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Milford Sound 1/15/2012

Cruising the western coast of Lower Island
Today we bid New Zealand adieu, but not without a grand finale from both the land and the sea. Leaving Dunedin we made our way around the southern coast of the South Island and headed north along the western coast toward Milford Sound. Our entry was dependent upon whether the required pilot boat could manage the conditions of the wind and ocean swells at the time of our arrival.
Entry to Milford Sound

In the afternoon, the Captain announced that we would indeed be able to enter and our exploration began. The entry is narrow and could easily be ignored. What a shame it would be to miss this area of fjords, waterfalls and snow-capped mountains.

Notice the relationship between the boats and the cliffs

 A historian, who has been giving lectures throughout the cruise, gave commentary. Milford Sound is a fjord within Fiorland National Park and a World Heritage site. It is a place where lush rain forests cling to cliffs, while seals, penguins and dolphins frequent the water. There are two permanent waterfalls in the Sound, Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls. Among the peaks inside are The Elephant and The Lion as well as Mount Kimberly, which is the largest in the Southern hemisphere.  We were so fortunate to have sunny skies and calm water, as this is an area known for unpredictable weather, rain and storms.

Stirling Falls
 The captain had the outdoor front “crew only” deck opened so that passengers could closely view the sights and take pictures. There were many highlights, all produced by Mother Nature but one was the creation of the captain's as he steered the ship so close to one of the waterfalls that those standing on the deck could feel the spray. Pictures could not capture the beauty of this area, but they are the best explanation available.
Lady Bowen Falls and Mount Kimberly
(L to R) Mier's Hat, Elephant, Lion
Leaving the sound the captain informed us that the seas ahead were not as welcoming as the calmness of the Sound. There would be swells and high winds and we would feel the movement into the night. As we headed back to Australia, we wondered what we would experience as we crossed the Tasman Sea a second time.

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