Milford Sound

If you look at both Queenstown and Milford Sound on a map of the South Island, they appear to be approximately 70 or 80 kms apart but because of the tortuous topography of this part of the south island, you have to travel almost 290 kms via Te Anau in order to drive between them. The last 60 or 70 kms between Te Anau and Milford Sound itself is a lovely drive and passes through some great scenery including the Mirror Lakes which is a bit of an exaggeration to say the least because the ‘lakes’ in question are nothing more than a pond to be honest with you. Having said that, the areas is beautiful and the mountains are reflected in the ponds — sorry, lakes — with a mirror-like quality. Twoards the latter end of the route to Milford Sound, you pass through a long mountain tunnel which was hewn by hand through the living rock back in the 30’s or thereabouts and I have to say that I wouldn’t fancy driving this route during the winter as it looks treacherous. The area is prone to frequent avalanches and the road extremely windy with long, unguarded precipitous drops in many places. Milford Sound turns out to be yet another geographical cul-de-sac, just like Aoraki in that there is only one way in and one way out, by road. All of the personnel who crew the various boats and cruisers that take tourists out into the ‘Sound’ live in Milford Sound for weeks at a time. There is also a small airport there which I wasn’t aware of so I would imagine that the approach is spectacular. The boat ride out around Milford Sound is beautiful and you can understand why it has been repeatedly chosen as one of the most beautiful places on earth. The scale of the place is also quite deceiving with what looks like small waterfalls — when viewed from a distance — turning out to be over  200 metres high, just because of the towering mountains that act as the backdrop.

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