“Rain, rain, go away; Come again some other day” ????
I always end up thinking there’s an invitation in the “come again some other day”. Like there is some day that we would welcome the rain. If there is a place to welcome the rain, we have found it.
We left Te Anau this morning and headed north to Milford Sound, the most accessible of all the fiord in the Fiordland National Park. I just learned tonight that a fiord is a channel that is created by a glacier and is filled by the sea as the temperature of the region and the sea level rose. A sound is created by a river cutting through the land that is subsequently filled by the sea. We were told likely at the naming, there was no word for “fiords” in the English language – so Milford Sound should really be called Milford Fiord.
The drive is 2 hours and 45 minutes from Te Anau to Milford Sound, but we finally had the opportunity to take our time, so we explored every nook and cranny we could on along the way. The difference today is that is rained – all day. This is the first day that it has rained more than an hour. It’s been a steady sort of rain. Not a summer storm like home, but more like a spring rain that sets in. Some hours are harder than others, but still constant. We have rain gear, so we set out to do some exploring of small hikes, waterfalls and lakes.
We came across fields of these flowers. Anyone know what these are? They are beautiful in their own right, but are quite spectacular with the misty mountains in the background and the turquoise blue rivers in the foreground.
There comes a point when the road is not simply running beside the national park, but actually within the park. It was then that we began to understand why it was a good thing that the rains had come. The mountains on either side were covered in waterfalls – as high as the eye could see. We learned later that most of these falls only exist when it rains. In fact, within the fiord, there are only 7-8 falls that run constantly. The rains had also brought in clouds that hung low. These would drift and suddenly we would get a glimpse of another layer of cascades even higher. The haze from the clouds and rain were so dense, most of these views were nearly in black, white and grays. Further and further into th park, we learned this had as much to do with the black rock, the white ice/snow and the sheer size of these mountains. We gasp at every turn. We have arrived at Milford Sound to board the Milford Mariner at 4:30 pm. The Milford Mariner is a 60 passenger boat that cruises the fiord all the way to the Tasman Sea and back. This can readily be done in an hour and a half. There are some cruises that do so in 3 hours with nature guides to point out more. Our itinerary is to ride out the sea, take a peek, and come back to weigh anchor in the Harrison Cove for the night. We’ll not return to the harbor until 9 am in the morning.
These are the pictures, but they don’t do it justice – simply because of the scale. It’s far too fantastic, far too much like a fantasy. We finally met the keas today. These are the only known alpine parrots. They are particularly known for their aggressive behavior. They will tear into weather stripping around windows on vehicles. We had two today that decided that our Rudolph antlers needed to come down. One sat perched on the antlers and the second on the side mirror going to town to tear the antler apart. (sorry these are pictures from the next day in the sun – but they are soooo much better!) I just hope we find the camper van in one piece back at the harbor!Camera is acting up, so I’ll ad my pics when I can. In the meantime here are James’!http://picasaweb.google.com/jjpeavey2/20091226JRP?feat=directlink