We left Queenstown this morning and it was a hard goodbye. I really, really loved Queenstown. Everything about it. It was beautiful. It was exciting. It had a great nightlife. It catered to outdoorsy folk. It made me feel alive. I would seriously consider coming back one day...and staying.
But today, we're off to Milford Sound, named by Rudyard Kipling as the 8th World Wonder.
First, though, a stop at the bridge where bungy was invented, Kawarau Bridge. With two bungies, a skydive and two canyon swings under my belt already, I was ready to take on Kawarau, which was a relatively mild jump comparitively...or maybe I'm just desensitized with the heavy concentration of adrenaline-pumping activities in the last few days. I harnessed up, tried to psych some of the first-time jumpers out with comments about frays in their harnesses and how old the bungy cord looked, and then took my place on the platform. Perfect swan dive, straight down into the river. Made for some pretty fancy pictures.
Onto Milford Sound. On the way there, we had to go through this really rough, tiny tunnel that only has room for one lane of traffic, so if you miss the light at your end of the tunnel, you're screwed for the next 15 minutes. When we entered the tunnel, Barnaby blasted the theme song from Mission Impossible, followed by the theme song from Batman. A good laugh on one of our last days on tour.
From "1,000 Places to See Before You Die":
"Milford Sound is the most famous of more than a dozen grand fjords that make up majestic Fiordland National Park on the South Island's south-western coast. The 10-mile-long inlet is hemmed in by sheer granite cliffs rising up to 4,000 feet, with waterfalls cascading from the mountain ridges. Playful bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and gulls call its waters home, and crested penguins nest here in October and November before leaving for Antarctica. Mitre Peak is the centerpiece, a 5,560-foot pinnacle whose reflection in the mirror-calm water is one of the Pacific's most photographed sites... Rainfall on the Sound is 300 inches a year and up, but even a rainy day has it's beauty, as spontaneous waterfalls sprout out of nowhere, their sound cloaked in mist and intrigue."
We saw all that and more on our overnight cruise on a boat on the Sound. We had dinner, which was sort of basic, and then we pulled out some board games and cards and had a relaxing night on the water. We saw penguins and a whole pack of dolphins (one was a little tiny baby dolphin!) and seals...I sat on the back of the boat with a blanket and watched the sunset behind the white-capped, cloud-piercing mountains. I don't really have a word to describe how beautiful it was. I actually ended up falling asleep out there and, when I woke up, it was pitch dark with just the faintest hint of an outline of mountains visible and the sound of a massive waterfall in the distance. Turns out, this particular waterfall is the same one in the movie Wolverine, where the guy rips through the cave/mountain wall and then jumps down a waterfall. I've never seen the movie, but watched that clip on one of my tourmate's Ipad soon after learning about the waterfall. No wonder this place is the 8th world wonder. I'd probably be inclined to bump it up a few notches on my rating list...
Our accommodations on the boat were basic. Megan and I had been spoiled in twin share rooms the entire tour so far, so having a small, quadshare room with two bunk beds was a little intimidating at first, but we were so tired it didn't matter. I crawled into my top bunk, just like when I was in college, and quickly passed out.