“No matter how many photos you’ve seen of Milford Sound, nothing can prepare you for the incredible feeling of actually being there. It is an inspiring and exceptional place.” (Real Journeys brochure)
From my journal:
the Chasm walk
and Homer Tunnel
the Tasman Sea.
All beautiful with clear blue skies and reasonably calm water. This fiord, while more popular and peopled and touristy, is definitely more scenic than Doubtful Sound [which I had visited the day before]. And very different – shorter, narrower, and much more dramatic in appearance. I was delightfully awe-struck! Inspiring adjectives such as dramatic, magical, sensational, epic, and breathtaking, Milford Sound thoroughly deserves all the tributes that are consistently bestowed upon it.
As described by “Go See Discover Stay,” New Zealand’s AA Travel Guide:
“Nestled within Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is the most accessible sound, and the best known of the glacier-cut fiords. It has a stellar reputation among cruisers, nature-lovers and trampers. And with good reason – a cruise through here reveals a bevy of gob-smacking sights. From cloud-piercing cliffs and snow-capped mountains to rainforest and an endless number of ever-changing waterfalls, this is a region drenched in beauty.” “Then there’s the iconic Mitre Peak, a commanding sight that will welcome you at the head of the fiord. Mitre Peak, seen to rise dramatically out of the water to a steep (1683m) point, is revealed as part of a chain of peaks when viewed from the water ….” “Access to Milford Sound is by Milford Road, by air, or along the Milford Track. Remember to bring insect repellent* and a rain coat – this region does receive a lot of rain, but don’t let that put you off visiting. The moody weather only enhances the aura of this amazing part of the world, and as it’s constantly changing there’s every chance it will fine up during your visit.”
* [See my Travel Rx post for insect repellant suggestions.]
A few Sound facts from the Real Journeys brochure:
On either side of the road to Milford, the landscape is cloaked in cool temperate rainforest, jungle-dense and complete with vines, climbers, perching plants and ferns, including tree ferns. Fiordland National Park is one of the wettest places in the world, with Milford Sound averaging more than 6m a year. In heavy rain, the great rock walls stream with waterfalls and small rivers become raging torrents. “Mitre Peak (Rahotu – a symbol of maleness) – So named because of its resemblance to a Bishop’s Mitre, this spectacular 1682m mountain is believed to be one of the world’s highest to rise directly out of the sea.
“New Zealand Fur Seals are found throughout the fiord. Almost hunted to extinction for their skins and oil, the fur seal is now fully protected and numbers are increasing steadily. Seals are superb swimmers … they feed at night, mainly on squid, octopus and barracuda. During the day they can be seen around the fiord basking on the rocks.”
From my journal (cont.)
I also found, upon asking our guide, Kendra (from Real Journeys), that the cruise around Milford Sound is handicap accessible. I asked how a wheelchair would be brought aboard (and into the cabin, which has a high lip at the entry). I was told that the crew would actually lift the wheelchair and occupant aboard. (Fortunately, Carrieanna can do some walking sans chair.) It’s doable, and I hope some day she’ll want to experience it for herself.