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Thread: Milford Sound

  1. #1
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    Milford Sound

    9th March 2017

    So - the plan is to make an early start for Milford Sound - about 180km away. The reasoning underlying this decision is that this is basically a very long dead-end road - and there will be vast numbers of tourists travelling there today to do exactly what I am planning to do - have a couple of hours cruising on one of the several tour boats that operate from there.

    These tourists will be travelling by hire car, camper van and coach - I really want to get ahead of that traffic both ways.

    So I get an early night, sleep well and wake just before the alarm goes off at 0630. I wash and get kitted up - layering clothing to keep warm...

    It's just getting light as I leave the hotel at Lumsden - and it's bloody cold...



    Call me foolish, but I hadn't anticipated encountering temperatures as low as this, so have not packed the wide variety of heated gear I own. Still, I am not totally unprepared...



    I switch the heated seat and hot grips both to 'High' and head west towards Te Anau, where the road to Milford Sound really begins.

    To begin with it's too dark to take pics, but as the sun reaches the horizon behind me, the landscape starts taking form out of the gloom...



    Then mist lying in the valleys is very picturesque, but is going to be a pain in the arse when I reach it.

    Eventually I reach Te Anau, where I am to turn north. I decide it's time for breakfast and stop at the Miles Better Pies café, for a flat white and a warm date scone...



    ...delicious and the hot drink wakes me up a bit (enough to think "WTF are you doing?" ).

    I notice this old girl hawking a museum in town...



    Any guesses?

    I have seen three coaches being loaded with oriental tourists (Chinese and Japanese tourism here is huge) in town, so I keep up a comfortable 100kph north towards Milford Sound, the newly risen sun now on my right...



    I'm booked on a 1030 cruise - Bettie reckons I'll be there at 0945...



    Traffic is light, validating my plan - but the views across Lake Te Anau are mostly obscured by low-lying mist...



    Pretty soon I am encountering the mist lying in the valleys that I'd seen earlier...



    Mist is a pain when riding, as it fogs your visor, glasses and mirrors, meaning you are constantly wiping them with your left hand. This means your left hand is kept wet and away from the heated grip, so it gets cold...



    As I start getting direct sunlight, I trust that it will start burning off before long...



    I've overtaken perhaps half a dozen cars - no buses and no camper vans...



    ...in fact the mist is the only thing that slows me...



    I keep getting glimpses of the views available, but often I'm too busy keeping the visor etc clean that I can't take too much time. I reflect that it is forecast to be sunny all day and I'll see all of this on the way back...



    Delayed gratification - drummed into me at school...



    I'm getting close to Milford Sound now, and some of the mountains are coming into view...



    Even my camera has misted up - not the objective lens, so it must be internal...

    The temperature has also taken a toll on the camera battery - I have to change it for a newly charged one before reaching Milford...



    The fogging inside the camera clears...



    The air still holds a little haze, though - it's not as clear as when I rode past Lake Hawea the other day, for example...



    It's still cold, though - and being in the shadow of these huge peaks isn't helping...



    Eventually I reach the tunnel, which is light controlled - with a board telling you how long you'll have to wait...



    Emerging from the other end of the 1200m tunnel is stunning - but the contrasts of bright sunlight and shade are proving to be a real challenge to my skills as a photographer...



    The mountains are incredibly steep sided - almost sheer in places - and I have to crane my neck to see the top of them...



    I stop at a pull out and follow a 15 minute walk to The Chasm - recommended to me by a chap in the bar last night (who pronounced the H... )...



    What the picture doesn't convey is the noise and the sheer volume of water moving here - it's really quite impressive...



    ...I get back on the Adv and press on - I'm going to easily make my sailing time...



    I reach Milford Sound - it's beautiful...



    ...but it's not a real town. It's a cruise boat terminal, an airport , a few motels and some ancillary buildings.

    I park my bike in the Park & Ride 500m from the terminal and catch the bus to...



    ...my cruise boat - the Spirit of Milford.

    There are about half a dozen boats here, offering a range of different tours at various prices. Mine's a pretty budget one - two hours touring the Sound out as far as the Tasman Sea...



    There's a continual clatter and drone as helicopters and fixed wing aircraft take off and recover bringing and shifting tourists (one of the tours on offer is to fly here from Queenstown, do a cruise and then fly back).



    We are under way exactly on time and given a loudspeaker tour by one of the crew...



    The scenery is great - the commentary less so...



    The chap uses lots of puns and quips - but he doesn't give the impression he knows his stuff very well, which is a disappointment...



    ...so I sort of tune him out and concentrate on the scenery and the wildlife...



    ...which is not difficult to do...



    ...other tour boats manoeuvre near us. They have different sailing times but are surprisingly bunched together now and again...



    I get a quick snap of a juvenile harbour seal just before he dives...



    We get very close to the cliff faces - these boats are highly manoeuvrable...



    If you look carefully at this pic...



    ...you can see two lunatics climbing - with a tent pitched in a crevice...



    A harbour seal sunning himself. These are juvenile males - after bulking up for four years, they will go out to the main colony outside of the Sound and challenge one of the bulls for control of his harem...



    We carry on outbound...



    The line you can see running from top to bottom in the middle of this pic...



    ...is the main Alpine Fault. It's due to have a magnitude 9-10 every 100 years or so. It's 100 years overdue. Apparently Milford Sound gets a small quake - only detectable by seismographs - every day...



    We're at the end of the Sound - that's the Tasman Sea - next stop Australia...



    We turn and start our way back along the other shoreline...



    We get underneath a waterfall - cue our host's line "So you can get a Glacial Facial"...

    I stay back - I'm not riding back with wet clothes...



    More lunatics are kayaking underneath it as soon as we leave...



    Just a little further down the shoreline...



    ...we are dropping off some of our passengers, to go kayaking, hiking etc...



    I think the person directing them off and into the building is more used to working with sheep...



    We set off on the final leg, back to the terminal...



    On the way, we catch a rare and distant sight of a lone penguin...



    To be honest, after three tours in the Falklands, if I never have to see - or more importantly - smell a penguin again, that'll be fine...



    Nearly back - you can tell by the low altitude of the aircraft...



    It has been a very pretty trip - pity there wasn't more wildlife to see...



    We're soon docked and being carried by the Park & Ride shuttle bus via the airport...



    ...back to the car park - who'd like to guess what this is?



    I put on another layer of insect repellent on - I soaked myself in it this morning and refreshed it before getting on the bus. This place is just alive with sand-flies...

    I'm soon fully kitted up and heading back south - it's 1300 and Bettie says I should reach the hotel at 1525...



    I am able to overtake most traffic - the advantage of riding - car drivers have little opportunity...



    I'm soon approaching the tunnel entrance...



    ...and unceremoniously jam myself in between the second and third vehicle...



    I'm soon through the tunnel and past the other two vehicles. I'm starting to get my first clear views of the scenery I missed this morning...



    It's not bad, is it?



    In fact I'd go mad far as to say it's pretty good...



    My traffic avoidance ploy has worked again. I lost count at about fifty coaches waiting at the terminal - every one came up this road and will be returning this afternoon...



    I stop briefly at Lake Gunn...



    A lot of the road towards Te Anau is almost fully enclosed by trees...



    ...with the occasional clearing with golden coloured tussock grass...



    ...and let's not forget the temperature...



    That's more like it...



    No reason to post this picture...



    I am visualising a cold pint, a hot shower and a steak...



    I don't mind which order they come in...



    These arrows are everywhere - to remind foreign drivers which side to drive on...



    Not llamas. Llamas do what they want...



    That looks like a very old Landrover - anybody know how old?



    But look at this! When did you last see one?



    Took a very quick snapshot of this chap, picking the kids up from school - any guesses as to make/model/year?



    Not far now - and I'm glad of it.



    I arrive back at 1515 - knackered. I refuel the bike and park it in the backyard of the hotel. Not sure where I'm going tomorrow - but I DO know that it won't be an early start. I start uploading 457 pictures, have a shower then go down to the bar for a beer.

    Good day...

    We will never be here again - have a good look around

  2. #2
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    Best pictures of the trip so far.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike O View Post
    Mist is a pain when riding, as it fogs your visor, glasses and mirrors, meaning you are constantly wiping them with your left hand. This means your left hand is kept wet and away from the heated grip, so it gets cold...
    First World problems eh ?



    Cracking photos & report again
    Just 'cos you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you !

    Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often.

  4. #4
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    Simply stunning!

  5. #5
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    Mike. Its all good, but this must be the best day so far........unless you have another nice surprise up your sleeve!!!!!!

  6. #6
    Yep still loving these.

    Fantastic photos....

  7. #7
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    But look at this! When did you last see one?

    - this morning in bacup - admittedly a mk4 in red

  8. #8
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    Ford Falcon XB GT - as driven by Mad Max....with a blower....because a 351CI V8 isn't enough to catch bad guys!

  9. #9
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    Mike, I love your bike but FFS straighten that heated seat switch up!
    Shocking! Couldn't live with that. Even my number plate screws are all the same way.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Udders View Post
    Mike, I love your bike but FFS straighten that heated seat switch up!
    Shocking! Couldn't live with that. Even my number plate screws are all the same way.


    Better?
    We will never be here again - have a good look around

  11. #11
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    Much!

    Good man!

    Must say that was bloody quick!

  12. #12
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    The Series One LR is a 1958 model and was number 1030 for that year which was the last for Series Ones.

    Adrian

  13. #13
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    Great keep them coming

  14. #14
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    Enjoying your reports, this one especially as it is such a stunning area, we have been to several of the places you are visiting, unfortunately not by bike and now nearly 12 years ago. Maybe time for a revisit.

    Al.

  15. #15
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    Cracking pics -
    I was last in Milford sound about 15 yes ago. It looks like the tourist trade has ramped up massively since then.
    It must be the same single penguin though - i only saw one as well
    When nothing goes right - go left !

  16. #16
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    Click here to find out how to remove these ads

    No, lots of penguins but they take turns for tourist duty, the others are on the lash!!


    Al.

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