From Dunedin city we headed westwards towards what is probably considered the main tourist attraction of New Zealand, the Milford Sounds. The Milford Sounds is a fjord located on the south-west of the south island running 15km long from the Tasman Sea, its beautiful to say the least. Again the scenery from Dunedin was spectacular with the image below just one of many on the route there. Well surfaced, non-busy open roads always surrounded by rolling hills and snow capped mountains. It was quite a long drive before we got to the nearby town of Te Anau, it was getting dark too and so we hoped to reach Milford as quick as possible. However we noticed as we got closer to the Milford area that (a) not many cars were going our direction and they lessened considerably as time went on in our opposite direction and (b) we spotted some flashing road signs on the way telling of a Homer tunnel closing at 5, not paying much attention to this we kept on rolling. Sure thing as we ended up being the only car on the road at one stage, we came up to the entrance of the Homer tunnel.....barricaded. A Female Engineer approached the car confirming what we expected, a no-through zone. Being Irish we tried to get her to let us through with a bit of "ah go on", but the tunnel was closed on account of suspected stone avalanches. Highly disgruntled, we had no choice but to head back to Te Anau (120km) for the night and return the next day early. **NOTE - CHECK THAT THE HOMER TUNNEL IS OPEN BEFORE GOING TO MILFORD SOUNDS!!!
After clearing the Homer Tunnel (1.2 km long) the next day we drove through some spectacular mountains on the exiting side. The winding roads were squeezed right beside steep snow capped mountains, a heavy precipitation making it hard to see clearly (see video below). I don't know how many times Ive used the words "This is ridiculous" or "This is out of this world" when being greeted by some extraordinary NZ scenery. We kipped into one of the few accomodations that were present in the Milford Sounds (low season also) and the weather didn't look the greatest. The next day we headed on the day cruise to check out what all the fuss was about,heavy drizzle however no sand-flies in sight.
Milford Sounds was similar to that of Halong Bay in Vietnam in a way, the steep rocks jutting out from the sea surface but more so the vegetation and colours that were present. Despite giving out about the weather, the excess precipitation meant that there were hundreds of waterfalls coming down off the cliff faces, some trickles and some full blown rivers, either way the length that they had to travel down always made it impressive. We got to see some wildlife (penguins even) and a plate fault line through the mountains. It was a very enjoyable day which was further enhanced by the underwater observatory. A man made vessel that offers viewing of the unique sea life of the Milford Sounds, which apparently mimics that of deep ocean waterlife in shallower water (due to the darkness of the environment created by Milford, deep water emergence) and we got to even see some small sharks. Milford Sounds is 100% worth the visit and some of the best scenery in New Zealand.fact.
Video: after exiting the Homer Tunnel, we took a drive down the windy road which was surrounded by steep cliff faces (be careful the sound gets loud when I put the camera out the window!)
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