Milford Sound on the Western side of the southern island of New Zealand is like stepping into the footprint of a giant. The waterfalls and cliffs seem moderately sized until in the far distance you see a full sized ferry passing by them and looking no larger than a thumbnail. It is the dwarf effect on full display.
We were driving into Milford sound just after a rainstorm which really made the waterfalls spectacular and overrun into a series of smaller runoffs. They surround you in the beautiful drive inside and we just had to pull over and take it in for awhile.
While we were waiting there it did not take long for us to be introduced to the natives of the area, keas.
It was trying to get inside the car. As we would come to find out, the kea is a very curious creature with no concern for personal space or safety. They will peck and pull at most things and don’t wear anything you don’t possibly want a hole in. At just about every pullover spot there was always some keas watching…waiting…
Keas would essentially just be a consistent piece always around in Milford Sound, and in all honesty, I kind of liked them.
Anyway, once we got to Milford Sound proper we checked in to one of the 2 hotels in the area and booked an afternoon ferry cruise.
They take you right up to several of the waterfalls and you get a good sense of the scale you are dealing with. The sounds are gigantic, their tips make it above the clouds. In the morning when the fog rolls in it is a very ominous site.
In the above picture it is low tide in the sounds and you can walk out pretty far and the cliffs don’t seem to get any closer which again shows their scale.
We also did some kayaking that next morning to try and see albatross. We were very successful in that regard (I think, at the time I had a hard time telling them apart from large seagulls) and also spotted some seals doing what seals do best.
On out drive out we also stopped at a couple more scenic pull over sites.
After finishing at The Chasm waterfall another kea tried to break into our car. He ended up landing on top of the hood and pecking a couple small dents we didn’t notice until later. We are pretty sure that was covered in the rental agreement though.
As is the case with so much of New Zealand, trying to do it justice through quick pictures is just impossible. That is especially the case with Milford Sound. The waterways and hiking trails are beautiful even when the keas are constantly watching you. Watching the birds fly behind a ferry or backing into a waterfall are both serene and humbling experiences. Additionally, you are very cut off in this place, there is only very limited internet and any phone service is very sporadic so you are really forced to just be in your present location which was a break I very much welcomed.
In my coming entries I’ll talk more about the southern island of New Zealand and there will likely be more talk about seals and how they chased me…