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Milford Sound Cruise

Milford Sound cruise New Zealand
We arrived in Te Anau at about 7:30pm, after spending the morning and afternoon in Wanaka.

We had planned on driving all the way to Milford Sound that night, but we weren’t sure if there was a gas station there.  We wanted to be extra cautious after our drive over Haast Pass.

When we pulled into town, however, the only thing open was a Subway sandwiches place.  The gas stations in town we all closed.

This is becoming an unfortunate pattern.

We decided to stay at a holiday park in Te Anau.  But, when we went to check in, no one was there.  We parked and plugged in anyway.
Milford Sound cruise New Zealand
The next morning we got up bright and early to be at the gas station when it opened.

The drive from Te Anau to Milford sound is 3 hours.  The gas station opened at 7:00, and we wanted to catch the first cruise of the way at 9:45 am.

So, leaving town, when the road was straight, traffic was non-existant, and the sun was rising, we booked it down the road.

We passed one vehicle on the drive, an Apollo camper (this will become important later).

It turns out that it was a good thing that we stayed in Te Anau for the night.  Not only is there no gas station at Milford Sound (there used to be one, but it closed), but we ran into a pretty heavy snowfall.
Milford Sound cruise New Zealand
That’s right.  Snow.  So much snow, actually, that we had to stop to put chains on the tires of the camper.

Luckily, a snow plow came by just in time, and we were able to follow it up the rest of the way, and down the pass.

We arrived in Milford Sound just in time to take the 9:45 cruise.  We chose Southern Discoveries as our cruise carrier because their cruise is a bit longer, and they have a stop at an underwater viewing center.
Milford Sound cruise New Zealand
Apparently, it rains 300 days out of the year at Milford Sound.  And, today was one of those days.

It was super rainy.  But, when it’s raining the waterfalls on the fiord really come alive.

(Milford Sound is improperly named.  It’s not a sound, it is a fiord.  A fiord was carved by glaciers and a sound was formed by a river, in case you’re wondering what the difference between a fiord and a sound is.)

The cruise was amazing.  The water is a stunningly aqua blue color.  And the mountains that surround the water are crazy tall.

See this waterfall below, it’s FOUR TIMES as high as Niagara Falls.
Milford Sound cruise New Zealand
There is an interesting phenomenon happening in Milford Sound.  Because it rains so much, there is always about 6” of fresh water on top of the salt water.

And, because of the way it was formed, there are little to no currents.
Milford Sound cruise New Zealand
Because of this, the natural sea life is tricked.  They think that the water is about 300 ft deep, when really, it’s only 30.

So, they built an under-water observatory.  Here you can see deep sea life alive and in a natural habitat.  Awesome.

We got to see black coral, which is, ironically, white.  It only turns black when it’s dead.
Milford Sound cruise New Zealand
From there, our cruise was done.  And, it was back over the snowy mountain pass for us.  It was much snowier on the way back, but because there was so much more traffic, the road was very clear.

(Day of cruise: Augst 21, 2010)

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