Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Milford Sound

We thought about driving to the Milford Sound but decided against it as there is only one road in and one road out, it takes hours, and when you get there it may be fog bound with no lake cruises running - so we flew in a tiny plane again.

Queenstown to Milford Sound takes a little over 30 minutes and only runs if the weather is good enough for a sail at the other end. Our 10 am flight was cancelled; our noon flight was no go, it was 2.00 pm or never. It happened. It was fantastic. We took off from Frankton Airport and flew up Lake Wakatipu, the third largest lake in New Zealand at 84km long, 400m deep, turned right to Richardson Mountains and on to the Humboldt and then the Darran Mountains. On we went, right up the Milford Sound to the lurking cloud in the Tasman Sea, making a graceful arc at St Anne's Point back down The Sound to land and pick up our boat.

Then we experienced up close and personal what we had seen from the air. We tasted the spray from the Stirling Falls that the Captain said made you 10 years younger when you wake up the next morning. We paused to look at the basking fur seals on Seal Rock. Then on out into the the Tasman Sea halting when we reached the fog. At first it was like candy floss, light and see through, then a heavy layer and eventually as thick as a brick wall, which is when we turned to make our way back past the towering cliffs with evocative names like The Lion and The Mitre.

We got back to Queenstown 4 hours later - amazing.

Today by way of a complete change we have thoroughly enjoyed a tour of private gardens just out of Queenstown. The women gardener/owners showed us around and their passion,commitment and inherited pioneering spirit shone through. Here in the South Island they don't have to contend with slugs and snails but they do have to have frost tolerant plants, many plants grow in England and there were a sprinkling of American and Asian species too. A wonderful global mixture.

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