|After an andrenaline filled few days in Queenstown (well, nothing quite gets the andrenaline flowing like being financially-fisted 4 times a day), we headed out in our crappy little rental car to Milford Sound. After 2 weeks of superb scenery, we did now find the truly WOW WOW WOW factor. The drive to Milford Sound has to be one of the most awe-inspiring in the world. The drive takes you through the gorgeous deep-green rain forest, where you can stop for swims and nibbles, before heading into the mountain road that takes you to the fjords on the coast. All around you are 1,000 metre high cliffs and mountains, plunging waterfalls, and snowy peaks. And all in blazing sunshine (we were lucky with this because they have some special rainfalls in Milford ... the average is 7 metres of rain a year, with up to 250mm a day!!!!).
We took a boat up the fjords, past the Mitre Peak (rising straight up for 1 mile out of the fjord), watching bottle-nose dolphins surf in the wake of the boat, and then getting soaked as the boat nudges its bow up under a 200 metre high rainbow waterfall for a thorough soaking. Magical stuff.
We later did a 2 hour walk to Lake Marian, which is accessed via a tropical rainforest path with its colourful birdlife, gorges, waterfalls (and damn sandflies), and which then breaks out to this stunning blue lake perched like left-over Darjeeling in a tea-cup made of snow-capped mountains. Slightly chilly waters but not enough to deter a long skinny-dip followed by a lizard-like doze on the hot rocks under a baking sun. It was a pity we had to leave such a place (especially as on the way down, we met a group of the hottest young European chicks who were heading úp and wanted to know if the swimming was good!!!! Well, it woulda been for any male up there who could watch).
Jan, on the other, would never make it to the lake as the abundance of plant life would have him crawling on his paws through the undergrowth with his note pad and camera (Jan is my horticultrist, tree-hugging brother).
This part of New Zealand is truly special, even for someone who, as I have no doubt told you all a dozen times, has experienced the beauty of Norway's fjords. These are unique in that they are covered in rainforest so one kinda gets a 2-for-1 special in this area. Marvellous stuff all round.