Day 11 – Queenstown to Milford Sound

Up again before the sun to prepare for the next leg of our journey. Graeme had bought some soup the night before which he heated up for breakfast, I had a cup of tea & a boiled egg that I had pinched from the Oasis yesterday morning. Then we headed back to the bus stop, which luckily was now down hill all the way, to catch our 7.20am bus. 

Why do buses have to be so cold? All the layers you wear to keep warm outside are barely enough to keep you warm inside the bus. It’s most unpleasant! This bus did however have great wifi until the Fiordland National Park so I was able to catch up on some blog writing while I shivered. It was also lovely to watch the sky turn pink & the mountains light up as the sun rose. 

Our trip to & from Franz Joseph involved almost hourly toilet stops & at least 2 food stops. This bus didn’t stopped til Te Anau so I’m glad I had picked up a smoked salmon bagel the night before to have for morning tea. There were at least 3 coaches worth of people all stopping at the one cafe to grab food & drink. As this is a regular occurrence you’d think they would have worked out a better way to cope with the demand for food. But no, they hadn’t! The food queue was so long that we went to the coffee/tea queue first. While waiting, & waiting, for them to prepare our drinks we joined the food queue which had substantially shrunk as had the selection of food, we were left with the dregs that no one else wanted and neither did we. 

Back on the bus we headed for our first stop which was some lovely great plain – possibly Knobs flat. Our bus driver had a real issue with people crossing the road & totally freaked out when a few of us decided that we preferred the view on the other side. We are adults & we do know how to cross the road safely. 

Our next stop was Mirror Lakes which was very pretty. 

From there we went to Lake Gunn & stopped at a little beach. The bus driver had emphatically requested that no one throw stones into the water so that we might be able to see some fish. As soon as we arrived some idiot threw a stone in the water & scared away any fish that might have made an appearance. It makes you wonder about people sometimes. 

It was a beautiful drive passing rivers & waterfalls & snow capped mountains. We even passed a 45 degree latitude sign indicating we are half way between the equator & the South Pole. 

We passed through Homer tunnel which was built in the 1940’s. Then stopped at the Chasm for short walk & drove past a lovely looking summer waterhole before finally arriving at Milford Sound – Piopiotahi. 

Apparently Sounds are created by water & fiords by ice so Milford Sound should actually be Milford Fiord according to our bus driver. I also learned today that what New Zealanders call the Manuka tree is actually what we in Australia call the Tea Tree, no wonder Manuka honey has so many medicinal properties. 

Having finally arrived at the bus & boat terminal we got someone to call Milford Sound Lodge, where we are staying, so that they could pick us up. We are staying in a Mountain View Chalet – OMG, this place is beautiful!!! The view from our room is amazing, it’s warm & cosy & even has heavenly under floor heating. 

We had a late lunch at the lodge cafe – a delicious carrot & ginger soup – then headed to the foreshore walk. Unfortunately any other big walks required we have a car to get to them so we’ll just have to come back. 
We were told to follow the highway back toward the boat terminal but we found a little track leading down to the river which was a lovely walk & got us to the airport. The airport is a hive of activity since apparently Tom Cruise is in town filming another Mission Impossible, although no one has actually seen him. This hive of activity is creating a lot of noise which is shattering the peace & quite that I suspect is the natural state of this place. Taking a deep breath of avgas is also not quite what I had in mind in coming here. 

As aside, I am totally smitten by frost. It’s so beautiful to see the amazing patterns of perfect ice crystals coating the plants.

From the airport there was another path leading to the foreshore. This place is like a massive mudflat and there is an awesome waterfall to see. 

We are lucky to be here on such a lovely day with the sun shining so brightly on the falls. We thoroughly enjoyed  wandering the foreshore before decided we should head back before it got too dark. 

We had an enjoyable dinner & then snuggled in for a good night sleep. 
The gobspell of Gru….

A name change is as good as a holiday! Or something like that. My Aunty used to call me Grusome, so you can’t imagine my joy when Gru made his first appearance in Dispicable Me. 

And what has all this got to do with Milford Sound? Well may you ask. 

Ever heard of Tom Cruise? Apparently he is in town making a movie. Who cares, he’s a twat, but there is another cruise in town that I am looking forward to being entertained by, but that won’t be until tomorrow.

It would seem that bus drivers of NZ attend the same School of Etiquette and Cleverness as their AU counterparts. I mean no disrespect to any bus or “coach” drivers but there is an old saying or two that you people might wish to avail yourselves to:

1. Know your facts

2. Don’t bullshit when you don’t know.

3. Say it once, perhaps twice as a polite reminder, but not over and over, on and on and on, Christ man, you’re like my nagging old mother!

And just for the record you tool, it is friggin cold and no the heating isn’t cranked to 26 degrees like you say.

These busses stop at prearranged destinations, usually a cafe of sorts where the weary traveller can be relieved of some coin in exchange for goo in pastry and crap in a cup. Sure the driver gets his meal and drinks for free, he can even roam free behind the counter helping himself to whatever he wants while the sheep are lead in and fleeced in an endless single column.

He did stop at some nice spots though, kinda try to make it out that it was “above and beyond” his normal duties, but by the number of other busses stopping at the same places kinda makes him out to be a tad foolish.

And as for those who crossed the road, we’re not chicken!


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