New Zealand 2014

Day 20

April 3

  Liz picked up last night that I am real 'breakfast' sort of feller so she really fixes me up this morning. What a breakfast to get my day started! I now can say that a fully cooked New Zealand is like a fully cooked Irish Breakfast which is like a fully cooked Scottish Breakfast which is like a fully cooked English Breakfast ...  
  We finish up as Liz has to go off to her work and Jeff has to get out early to deal with the sheep. And all Alain and I have to do is ride out to Milford Sound and enjoy a boat ride when we get there. Te Waipounamu has done all the 'arranging' so we just have to show up at the proper time. I decide to set up the camera for video for this ride before we pull out. (The video is over an hour long so I divided it into a second part.)  
  The flowers really sparkle as we get out and about this morning,  
  And of course the Inspector General is on the job making sure we are behaving.  
  It's such a lovely view to contemplate, but we need to get on with it and so we do.  
  It's down the well maintained gravel road for a bit ...  
  then on to the paved part in short order.  
  It's shaping up to be just another day of great roads and incredible views ...  
  as we make our way through the heart of this farming country.  
  The mountains are standing 'watch' over us as silent sentinels.  
  As we near the Te Anau township, we get a glimpse of the lovely Lake Te Anau.  
  We've been warned that gas is scarce on the way to Milford Sound, so this looks like as good a place as any. Fortunately, with the large tanks on the ST1300s, we will be great shape to get there and back.  
  Today will be a 'short' ride for us of less than 200 miles, so this is sort of a 'flower sniffing' day and that's fine.  
  And just like a good momma, the New Zealand Highway Authority reminds us 'foreigners' to stay on the 'proper' side of the road.  
  The way to Milford Sound takes us through a variety of landscapes, from the rolling foothills and valleys ...  
  to dense, green forests ...  
  to golden prairies that run right up to the mountains.  
  It's a lovely run for just the scenery alone ...  
  but then there's some pretty good twisty bits along the way also.  
  And then you come to incredible views like this that just beg for a picture to be taken.  
  Down at the bottom of the valley is a rushing river that you can hear from where we are standing.  
  I have to wonder long this old tree has stood guard over the valley, looking down on those things below.  
  This section of road has lots of sections that are single track, so we have to watch carefully as we motor along.  
  You would prefer not to be going 'full steam ahead' on this and meet someone coming from the other direction doing the same thing.  
  The clouds seem to be coming down to hide the rugged valley before us ...  
  and give a sort of mystical feeling to this passage.  
  Now we are starting the climb up and over the mountains that will drop us into Milford Sound.  
  There's a tunnel near the top ...  
  that tests just how quickly my eyes can adjust from light to dark. As I get older, I notice that I'm having more trouble with light transitions like this than I used to..  
  But soon we pop out of the tunnel and come into some mighty fine bends. This reminds me a lot of some of the Alps passes - both from the views and the technical level of the road.  
  Jeff and Liz told us that we should take some extra time and stop by a place called 'The Chasm' and so we do.  
  After we park the bikes and head toward the trail, I notice this sign. Seems like to me that the bus didn't ...  
  It's a strange place with unusual trees twisted and contorted in strange ways.  
  It makes me think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she enters the forest with Tin Man and the Scare Crow and meets the Cowardly Lion.  
  But there are no cowardly lions that we can find and these trees don't seem to be talking to us - at least in a language that I can understand.  
  The chasm itself has some very interesting waterfalls in it but getting a straight on picture of them is very difficult.  
  They twist and turn through the very narrow river bed hewn through the rock over time.  
  It's a short walk, so soon we are headed back out through the strange forest again.  
  The clouds have now descended almost to the point of engulfing our trusty steeds.  
  So we make a rapid escape from the mist and press on toward Milford Sound.  
  Soon we arrive at the parking area for all the attractions at the sound.  
  As we make our way toward the facilities, I take note of this sign. We have not yet met 'Te Namu', but we do in short order and it is not a pleasant meeting.  

Our ship for the day is the Milford Mariner, a sturdy vessel that will carry us out of the sound and into the open ocean. We soon learn that Milford Sound is not 'technically' a sound, but is really a fjord. To put it properly -

'Milford Sound is incorrectly named, as a sound is in fact a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, and wider than a fjord, while Milford Sound is formed by the actions of glaciers.'

  Soon the call is made, we head on board and are off to explore the wonders of the area.  
  It's pretty windy on the upper deck, but well worth the trouble as the views are great.  
  The captain points out that this is where there was a landslide many years ago. It is just now beginning to see new plant growth.  
  Throughout the voyage, we pass several lovely waterfalls cascading down the sides of the sound.  
  The ship slowly 'threads the needle' as we head out to the open sea.  
  The closer to the sea we get, the brighter the sunlight becomes.  
  The captain sees something off to our left and maneuvers the ship over to it. There are a couple of seals trying to even up their suntan and they really don't care whether we are there are not.  
  He turns the ship back into the sound and soon we are out in the real ocean, the Tasman Sea, or 'The Ditch' as it is known locally.  
  If we headed straight out, we would eventually land on the shores of Australia. Of course it would be a journey of 1,200 miles to get there.  
  On the way back into the sound, we pass by some impressive sea caves...  
  and a warning beacon for the shoals that surround them.  
  Soon we are back in the midst of the clouds and rugged terrain of the sound.  
  I really am fascinated by waterfalls, and the ones we see are quite tall but not always very wide ...  
  as they find their tortured way to the bottom.  
  This has been a very relaxing time and I almost hate for it to be coming to an end. It's been a nice change of pace to just kick back and let someone else do the 'driving'.  
  Off to our left is another colony of seals enjoying the sunshine.  
  Soon we come to one of the largest waterfalls in the sound.  
  The captain guides the ship in close enough that you can feel the spray off the falls.  
  Across the sound the craggy mountain tops are bathed in the clouds.  
  From where we are now, it's hard to believe there is anything beyond the mountains jutting out into the water, but we know better.  
  He takes us into a little side bay to explain that on an all night cruise, they put into here for the evening.  
  But soon we are underway out into the main channel, making our way back to the dock.  
  I look back from where we have been and it would make you think that this whole place is landlocked. And sometimes so is life - we think we are trapped until we travel a little further and get a better view of things.  
  The cruise is over, but it has been very relaxing and enjoyable. Since the 'Te Namu' seem to like our Northern Hemisphere blood, we suit up quickly and leave them far behind to munch on somebody else.  
  Soon we are back up at some altitude where the bugs are scarce ...  
  but the curves are not.  
  I see the strange covering that leads into the tunnel coming up quickly.  
  We patiently wait our 'turn' for the tunnel as the traffic light counts down.  
  It's back through the golden valley and then...  
  alongside the beautiful Lake Te Anau.  
  Before long we are at the Gillespie Road turn off and getting close the farm.  

Being a working farm, Jeff and Liz have some really good working dogs. Their names are Joe, Meg, Gem (Meg's puppy and her name spelled backwards), Chance, Grizz, and Rip. They all remind me of a dog that my great grandfather had called Rexy. He had a lot of cattle and a big spread that was very hilly. He would tell Rexy in the afternoon -

"Rexy, go get the cows up."

And Rexy would go up into the hills and make sure he got them back down to the barn. Working dogs are worth their weight in gold when dealing with livestock and it sure looks like they have lot of gold animalwise.

  Liz just outdoes herself for supper. There's fresh lamb chops from the farm, fresh beef patties likewise, taters and a lots of salad. It's all so good that my tongue almost beats my brains out. Nothing like fresh food prepared by somebody who knows the purpose of the business end of a kitchen.  

And on top of all of that, she's baked up apple pie with ice cream. After my piece quickly vanishes from my plate, she asks me -

"Would you like another piece?"

"Well, I reckon I can still breathe, so I sure will" I say with a grin.

And it vanishes about as quick as the first piece.

  We go to the front room for while to solve all the world's problems, but the skin over my stomach once again is pulling down the skin over my eyes as it stretches. I wish all a good night and waddle off to my room. I don't even think I get through one good check of my eyelids for holes before I'm out.