Day Thirty: Te Anau and Milford Sound

We were off to an early start when the bus from Go Milford! picked us up just after 8 a.m. for an all day tour out to Milford Sound. Our driver, Bruce, has been doing the tours for years and before that he’d worked at a large sheep station in the area for a long time. He had some people on the bus already and we picked up a few more after we got on. Our group was 17 plus Bruce. He introduced himself and then had us say where we were from– he had a witty comment for everyone. Our group included Australians, Americans (who live in Singapore now), Canadians, and some Kiwis from Wellington as well as me (San Francisco) and D2E2 (San Diego). The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound takes quite a while, and we made a few stops along the way. Not as many as would normally have been done, as the weather was a bit rainy and we would have time on the way back in the afternoon to stop again if the weather was better then. No sense visiting Mirror Lakes if it’s raining, right? The Milford Road climbs up to the Homer Tunnel, which is a major feat of engineering and sheer manpower. It’s 3/4 of a mile long!!

Our bus awaiting the light at Homer Tunnel.

Our bus awaiting the light at Homer Tunnel.

Homer Tunnel "view" such as it was in the rain/mist.

Homer Tunnel “view” such as it was in the rain/mist.

Milford 3 Homer tunnel sign 1

Milford 4 Homer Tunnel timeline

Milford 5 Homer build sing

Milford 6 Homer Mitre heights

Milford 7 Quick Fact lights in winter

Misty Milford Sound

Misty Milford Sound

Pride of Milford

Pride of Milford

Our large boat took us around the sound and then dropped some of the passengers, including everyone from our bus, off at the Discovery Centre, which is an underwater viewing station that has been constructed and placed in the sound. It floats and is fully self contained! You’ll have to look on their site for photos, as my camera wasn’t up to the task.

Milford 10 Discovery Centre sign

Milford 11 Discovery fish view

We took a smaller boat back to the main dock to rejoin Bruce and the bus for the return trip to Te Anau. And I’ll be darned if we hadn’t picked up half a boatload of sand flies on the Discovery Centre dock and brought them into the boat with us! And then wouldn’t you know it, the sun finally started coming out!

Hiding from sand flies

Hiding from sand flies

Milford 11 shuttle boat back

Milford 12 Milford

This was our shuttle boat back to the main dock.

This was our shuttle boat back to the main dock.

Milford 13 waterfall

Milford 14 random river

How many fern photos have I taken? HEAPS, and I'm not done yet!!

How many fern photos have I taken? HEAPS, and I’m not done yet!!

As I said, we made a couple of stops on the way back that we’d passed on doing in the rain on the way to the Sound, including another stop outside the Homer Tunnel because the view was clearer.

Homer Tunnel in the afternoon

Homer Tunnel in the afternoon

View around Homer Tunnel

View around Homer Tunnel

Homer Tunnel rain run off

Homer Tunnel rain run off

Eglinton Flat and time for a photo!!

Eglinton Flat and time for a photo!!

Eglinton Flat

Eglinton Flat

Go Milford! in the sun

Go Milford! in the sun

This cheeky kea wanted to get into the bus with Bruce during a stop...so did sand flies, so the door remained CLOSED!

This cheeky kea wanted to get into the bus with Bruce during a stop…so did sand flies, so the door remained CLOSED!

Lake Gunn

Lake Gunn

Mirror Lakes

Mirror Lakes

Mirror Lakes sign. There is only ONE sign, and it's printed upside down. See why?

Mirror Lakes sign. There is only ONE sign, and it’s printed upside down. See why?

We got back to Te Anau around 5 p.m., and considered ourselves VERY lucky to have seen Milford in both full-bore instant rain waterfall run-off glory and in sunshine! We went out to dinner in town and then went back to get ready to drive to Dunedin the next morning.

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7 Responses to Day Thirty: Te Anau and Milford Sound

  1. EO says:

    Rain = waterfalls!
    Great point! Sounds amazing.

  2. Greg Chickman says:

    I love reading about your adventures.

  3. Ruby Jane Acupan says:

    Wow! Those mirror lakes are a beauty! There’s something about water – either looking at them through photos or listening to them in a distance – that make them so majestic. Thanks for keeping us posted with your adventures! It’s amazing to see what colossal views you’re witnessing. 🙂

  4. lindsay says:

    The universe seems to be hinting that this is the year I re-visit the rellies and your blog is one of them. I have now talked to the boss about getting 3 weeks off (typing a proposal — sheesh) and emailed the rellies to see who will be around. Hoping for late March/early April. See how influential you are? Also if a picture is worth a thousand words, then what are a thousand pictures worth??? eh?

    • brabett says:

      YAY!! You KNOW that I think you need to be here. I’ve had / am having / will have a marvelous time seeing new places and revisiting some old favorites. I have yet to take The Perfect Fern Photo, in spite of the fact that I’ve taken bazillions of shots of them. (Anyone who has traveled to New Zealand will know that is one of the requirements of being a tourist here: You must photograph ferns. Large and small, in sun and shade, grottos full and individual fronds…) I’m looking forward to seeing YOUR photos and hearing YOUR stories Lindsay!

  5. Robert Starkey says:

    I’m jealous!

  6. Gretchen says:

    Beautiful!

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