Day 14 Travel Notes
We got up early today as we had to be at Frankton (20 minutes away) to connect with the tour bus to Milford sound. The bus was on time but we were the last two people picked up and ended up with less than optimal seats. Still it was fine and we rode through some beautiful country. Jan was particularly happy because, as the main driver of our rental car, she was able to sit back and watch the scenery as we went along. The first part of the drive was through sheep, elk and deer ranching areas with lots of animals. The size of some of the ranches (stations) was astonishing - 70,000 to nearly 200,000 acres. Even though Milford sound is less than 100 km from Queenstown as the crow flies, it was a 5 hour trip by bus. This included several stops for pictures and one for coffee/tea/etc.
On the last part of the trip we went into a region where everywhere you looked there were waterfalls. We stopped at a number of places where water cascaded down the cliffs all around us. The Milford Sound area is one of the rainiest places in New Zealand, probably in the world. The average annual rainfall there is more than 7 meters (276 inches) and it rains 250 days in a typical year!
Eventually we got to Milford Sound itself, just in time to board the excursion boat without a wait. The boat took us out of the sound into the Tasman Sea and then returned - a total of about 20 km and taking 1 hour and 45 minutes. When we started out it was raining but when we reached the mouth of the sound and the Tasman Sea the sun came out. Still, the wind was blowing strong enough to make standing on the open upper deck difficult.
After the boat tour we were scheduled to return to Queenstown via air and not have the lengthy bus ride back. Unfortunately, for some reason, there were no planes flying even though the weather appeared quite good at that time. As a result we had to retrace our path over the same roads we came in on. We were not happy campers!
Eventually we got back to our room at the resort and started packing for our return flight the following morning. Because of our later than expected return home we opted for a room service dinner from the Japanese restaurant at the resort.