Milford Sound New Zealand

Milford Sound

Today would be on of the most beautiful days of our trip.  The night before we had checked the weather and it looked like it was safe to head to Milford Sound. We had a lot of miles to cover, and we would also be heading into some areas that were used in the filming of The Lord of the Rings.  I didn’t really do too much research, but I can assure you that even without having the exact points plotted out, the areas we would go through today were stunning and more than worthy of a movie location. For your future plans to visit New Zealand, here are the sites of some LOTR locations.

 We hit it hard first thing in the morning, and made good time.  Paul rides a BMW R1150, with Catherine riding pillion, and he is a former and current racer, so he kept up a spirited pace throughout the whole day. We had read and been told that there would be a lot of tourists and tour buses, and that the road is long to get into Milford Sound.  I was expecting today to be slow going and possibly tedious.  This would not be the case, and the whole day would be an exercise in good timing,  low traffic, and gobsmacking views.  Part one,  just outside of Cromwell is a section of road that goes through the Kawarau Gorge, home of the world famous bungee jump. Lots of great twisties to start off the day.
We did a lot of miles (or should I say kilometers ?) and did not stop at all except for gas and lunch. We stopped for pie in Te Anau.  Paul let us know that we would be having lots of chances to try pie over the next few days. Challenge accepted!! I have already started to fall in love with NZ pies.  I have never liked the American version we have which are chicken pot pies.  I am not a fan of that yellow gooey chicken gravy soupy filling.  NZ pies are filled with meat and cheese or other yummy goodness, but no icky heavy sauce. With tummies happy we continued on.
We entered Eglinton Valley, and I imagined myself with the crew of Hobbits and Dwarves as they journeyed. The wide valley space was stunning, and there was still snow on the mountains, and views of waterfalls. Absolute heaven to look at plus the freedom of being on the motorcycles.  We tried taking pictures and video with the goPro.  Frank has mastered the feat of taking pictures with our good camera while he is riding.  We caught up to Paul and Catherine in front of a tunnel opening, already off their bike and enjoying the view, while waiting on the side of the road next to the line of cars for the tunnel.  We took some pictures and Paul said “do you want to wait around 20 min or go with the next group of cars?”  Cars from the other direction were coming through, so it was good timing, let’s go!  We quickly put our helmets on and jumped back in line, to find out that the tunnel was very dark with water on the ground and water dripping from above. I made the poor choice of putting on my sunglasses, out of habit, so it was even darker. Plus add to that the fact that the tunnel goes downhill, and it is a pretty freaky sensation, that kind of messes with your mind.   It starts to feel like the tunnel is getting steeper and steeper, and the red lights in some sections make it feel like you are on a small spacecraft about to be launched from the mother ship.

Our first stop after the tunnel was The Chasm; a short hike to a, well, a chasm, that had unique rock formations from the swirling water, and another set of bridges to walk over the blue water.  When we were ready, we competed the road to the end, where we found a completely full parking lot, and cars circling, and many groups and tour buses.  An attendant pointed for us to park in a yellow area, where my only mishap of the entire trip would happen.  I had already put the kickstand down, when Frank asked me to pull forward to give him more room, and the kickstand must of hit the ground and moved back a bit, because when I tried to get off the bike it went down.  My ankle was right next to the curb, and for half a second I actually thought “oh no! this is going to break my leg!” But luckily the hard luggage landed on the curb, keeping the bike up and off my leg. The side luggage was intact but pretty scratched up, and I was simmering in anger for doing that. (I’ll just blame Frank since he made me move forward, he he). I hadn’t dropped a bike since I was learning in 2000. Oh, well.

We walked to the boat docks and terminal. We had not made any reservations ahead of time, but we walked up to one of the many tour counters and quickly found a tour that was leaving in 15 min.  We literally bought our tickets and walked out and boarded the boat.  Fantastic timing again! [SIDENOTE:  I get seasick, so I searched for a counter that might sell Dramamine.  I finally found one, and as she was selling me the 3 pills I inquire about the brand that I have never heard of and she says, “they’re organic” to which I reply, “oh, that means they won’t work, huh?”.  She was confused, I had no other choice, so I gambled my $3 and headed to the boat. I took 2 pills and crossed my fingers,  Frank took the other]

Paul and Catherine told us that we couldn’t have picked a better day to be out on Milford Sound. There was no rain, blue skies, and a breeze to keep away the Sand Flies, (spawn of the devil with wings. I was bit by one two days ago and all I wanted to do was scratch my leg off)  The Tour boat ride on Milford sound was for 1 hr 40 min, and I was so glad we decided to go out.  Towering mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife surrounded us while our boat captain injected some humor into his routine speech about the area. I got the feeling he has done this quite a few times. We stayed up top to get the best pictures, even thought was super windy.  It was a gorgeous day.

We finished the day by riding back south to the city of Manapouri, where we stayed at a little camping village with cabins and little houses. I could do a post just about that place. We stepped back in time, where there where old cars parked everywhere, old fasioned phones, the clerk in the office used a ledger book to write our names and room number down, and they gave us a key.  A real key.  This would be great place to take your family for a week vacation to camp, boat, swim and make summer memories. We finished off the night sitting outside in the sun looking at Lake Manapouri, with some of the best fish and chips, lots of beer, and I tried an L&P soda for the first time. It stands for Lemon & Paeroa, a lemon flavored soda similar to spite or 7-up, but more natural tasting. It is also made with mineral water from the town Paeroa, and is World Famous in New Zealand. Because it stays light out so late we probably sat outside till 10pm, enjoying new foods, new friends and making new memories. Life is good.

Our basic route for the day-Cromwell-Hwy 6-Kawarau Gorge-Roaring Meg-Lake Hayes-Frankston-Fairlight-Gartson-Athol-Acton-Mossburn-The Key-Te Anau for lunch pie-Eglinton Valley- Homer tunnel-The Chasm-Milford Sound bout tour-Manapuori
  • Milford Sound
  • Milford Sound

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