Monday, February 1, 2016

Day 16 (Jan 4) - Milford Sound

Eglington Valley - Is there a better spot for a jumping picture?

Brilliant sunshine greeted us the next day as we continued on through exceptionally scenic mountainous countryside on our way to Milford Sound.

The only downside to this entire area was that we were not the only ones who found it spectacularly beautiful. 

And although this part of the country is generally very remote and almost inaccessible, the one and only road leading through it is quite busy with tour buses vying for every each of available parking space.

However, one only has to walk for a few minutes away from the masses to sense the raw and vast emptiness of the land that lies beyond the trodden pathways.

Our first stop was in the wide Eglington Valley where the silt deposited by glacial rivers has created a pancake-flat valley floor, which beautifully frames the surrounding mountains (and provides the perfect scenery for a jumping picture).

Next we admired the reflection of the mountains in the Mirror Lakes.  We were lucky to get there early enough for the lakes to still be shaded by the tall trees nearby while the brightly illuminated mountains glowed on the even water surface, still undisturbed by thermal winds that would surely blow later in the day.

As the road led further into the mountains we got close to snow for the first and only time on our journey and we used the opportunity for some cool photo shoots.

On the other side of the pass, the road descended steeply through a short and narrow valley to connect with the sea at the bottom of Milford Sound.

We decided against joining hordes of other tourists on one of the many boat trips into the sound.

Instead we explored the quickly widening shoreline as the tide pulled the water out to the sea.

It was a perfect day without a single cloud in the sky.

Having fun with perspective - at Milford Sound

Only the waterfalls tumbling down from the mountains around us reminded us of the fact that Milford Sound receives an annual rainfall of 6,813 mm making it the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world.

We finished this long but rewarding day with a drive to Queenstown, the final destination on our journey, where we checked into a modern and well-appointed apartment above town with unbelievable views across the city, the lake, and the three surrounding mountain ranges.

View from the balcony of our apartment in Queenstown

Bonus pictures below:

OK - so this did not work so well... 

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