On the morning of November 25th, we awoke in the amazing Milford Sound!
Back at home while I was booking our tours, I realized that we had two options at this "port": (1) Stay on the boat and travel to the Milford Sound, the Doubtful Sound and the Dusky Sound or (2) get off the boat in Milford Sound, do an overnight tour, and then meet back up with the ship in Dunedin. I didn't know that much about the Milford Sound or the south island so I Googled it! :-) And what I saw was amazing! I called up Josh and told him to look up the Milford Sound and he was sold on the overnight tour!
We arrived in the Milford Sound at 6:00 AM and began the steam through the Sound towards the drop off point. At 7:30 AM Josh and I met with about 40 other people at the Queens Lounge. We were told that the weather was bad and that we were going to wait to disembark the ship. We hung around and at 8:00 AM we were told to head downstairs.
We grabbed our backpacks, headed all the way to the bottom of the ship, and then jumped off the Noordam and onto a boat.
After I got on the small boat I noticed where we were! The gorgeous Milford Sound!
[Bye-bye ms Noordam!]
[I love this picture because you can tell how HUGE the mountains are by using the ms Noordam as a scale]
Even though it was POURING rain, I could not stop taking pictures! Due to the rain there were waterfalls EVERYWHERE!
After our little boat docked we got on a tour bus and headed into Fjordland National Park.
[Sitting in the front, as usual]
The bus driver drove us along Hwy 94 until we got to The Chasm. Our driver/tour guide, Brian, told us that it was a short walk to The Chasm and that it would be worth it. Of course I forgot our umbrella but we went on the walk anyways!
We walked over a wooden bridge and through the thick forest until we got to a beautiful slot canyon. Pictures do not do it justice but I promise it was powerful! The river was flowing full speed and the water was roaring!
We admired The Chasm for a few minutes before running back to the bus. While waiting for the others to get back, Brian told us that we were lucky it was raining because the waterfalls only show up when it is raining!
We also saw these two Kea birds! They came over to the bus and started chewing on the rubber step. Apparently they love rubber and they will pick at your tires if you leave your car alone too long.
After everyone was back on the bus we continued along Hwy 94 to the Homer Tunnel. After passing through the one-way tunnel the sun came out and it stopped raining, but it was still cold!
At noon we arrived at the Kingsgate Hotel in Te Anau where we had a buffet lunch. As we ate the weather continued to get better and better. After eating we all headed back to the bus where we were told that a belt broke and we could not continue until it was fixed.
I'm not going to lie, if we were going to break down somewhere, this is the best place to do it! We ended up spending the next hour sitting on the grass and gazing at the beautiful Te Anau Lake and the gorgeous mountains.
[Guys watching the belt repair... typical ;-P]
After the belt was fixed we jumped back on Hwy 94 and headed east. We continued to pass beautiful scenery (it's hard to take pictures when the bus is going so fast) and I could have sworn that everywhere I looked I saw scenes from The Lord of the Rings!
We continued east until we hit Hwy 6 then we went north. Here we stopped at a small gas station where our bus driver bought us all an ice cream cone as an apology for breaking down! Such a sweet man!
We then stopped at a look out point at the southern tip of Lake Wakatipu.
We then followed the lake north along the Devils Staircase (the road is super windy) until we arrived at Queenstown.
We checked into our five star hotel the Hotel St Moritz, changed our clothes, and then headed back down to the lobby where we met up with Brian.
Brian then drove us down to the Steamer Wharf where we boarded the Historic Steamship "TSS Earnslaw". This boat was launched in 1912 and the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere. You can go into the engine room and watch the men shovel coal! It's really warm in there!
[Beautiful Queenstown from the bow of the TSS Earnslaw]
[These Mountains are called The Remarkables and they were used as the Misty Mountains in both LOTR and The Hobbit movies! Eek! I LOVE them!]
We cruised acrodd Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak where we had a buffet dinner at the Colonels House. At this time we were able to meet some of the people on our tour (since we sat at a large table with them).
After dinner we walked over to the barn to watch a sheep shearing demonstration.
We sat in the cold barn for a few minutes waiting for the show to start when we were called outside and told that we needed to watch a sheep dog demonstration before we could watch the sheep shearing. Um... ok.
The sheep dog demonstration was actually pretty cool. The dogs ran up into the hills and brought the sheep back down to the pens.
After applauding the dogs we headed back into the barn where we watched a sheep get sheared.
[She looks beautiful!]
After seeing the sheep we went back to the dock where we boarded the TSS Earnslaw, cruised back across Lake Wakatipu, walked back to the hotel (it was up this steep hill and all the other passengers were struggling and complaining), and then tried to contemplate what we saw as we went to bed!
It was a long day but I can't complain! Queenstown is one of the most beautiful cities (I compare it to Park City) that I have ever seen and I was excited to see more of it tomorrow!