Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Day in Milford Sound, New Zealand

As long as I can remember, I have known about the Milford Track near Milford Sound. In the 1970's, it seems like lot's of Americans who loved trails and long hikes would talk about a fantastically beautiful trail located on New Zealand's South Island. Although there was no time for me to hike the track on this trip, it would be my distinct pleasure to visit Milford Sound.

Large gum trees on the shores of Lake Te Anau, in the city of the same name

On the road into Milford Sound, the scenery is fantastic. Each of these long valleys were filled with glacial ice just 10,000 years ago.

One of the many stops along the way is Mirror Lakes, a series of oxbow lakes (where the main river used to flow but now filled with lake water).

Creative signage at the lakes

Having fun with photographs

We were lucky to have such a high ceiling to see the peaks

The infrastructure in the New Zealand parks is really nice

Large side stream within Fiordland National Park. This area of New Zealand has over 3 million acres of protected landscapes, from the southern tip of the island up to Mt. Cook National Park. It is an exceptional area of protected land. The drainages are steep, even this close to sea level.

After driving in the park for 80 miles, the road encounters a 2,000 foot sheer wall of granite. There was no way a road could be constructed on this wall and so the 1.2 kilometer Hamner Tunnel was blasted into the wall in the 1930's and '40's to get across the divide. This is a view down to the sea side of the road.

Looking back to the north side tunnel

This kea bird came down to the vehicles while we were photographing the area

The bird came down to eat the rubber off of the vehicles parked here

They are beautiful birds but very cagey and sheer terror for any rubber on the vehicles

The temperate rainforest is beautiful beyond description. New Zealand has been separated from Gondwana fore the last 80 to 60 million years and so the vegetation has a certain Mesozoic quality to it.

This is a place called The Chasm, where a side stream has etched a narrow slot some 50 feet deep through limestone.

More tree ferns

A fiddlehead on the fern

New Zealand is known for its jade rock, which comes from the west coast of the South Island

This is Mitre Peak, one of the most photographed scenes in the whole country. This is deep glaciated country.

More glacial scenery in Milford Sound, where we took a four hour boat cruise

A hanging valley in the fjord

Milford Sound is not that long of a fjord, being only about five miles in. Here is the open ocean and  the Tasman Sea. Only 1,300 miles out there to the coast of Australia.

Note the glacial striations sweeping down from the left across this rock face

Spectacular waterfall in Milford Sound

Mitre Peak later in the afternoon

I really enjoyed this day in Milford Sound. The scenery was outstanding and we had a great day for it.

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