10:30 am

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After asking 3 other intercity bus drivers if we were on their list we finally found our bus to Milford Sound. We were on what was called the awesome bus, which is just another one of their tour busses. Our bus driver was quite chipper and eager to begin our 2.5 hr journey. Once everyone was on the bus and situated, our driver began his prepared whirlwind of information which lasted for almost the entire drive. He pointed out mountain passes and valleys, types of trees, and many more things along the way.
Also since it was a scenic tour bus, there were a few stops along the way, allowing us 5-10 min at each stop to hop off the bus and take a few pictures.
Near the beginning as we drove alongside lake Te Anau, he pointed out what is called a Maunaka tree, which among many characteristics has medicinal properties. It also blooms with white flowers in the summer time which the bees collect nectar from and produce Maunaka honey. The branches from the trees are commonly used as walking sticks and ridge poles for shelters.
The temperate rainforest sections we drove through on the way to Milford consisted of a variety of different beach trees, ranging from red beach, to silver beach and further into the pass turning into mountain beach trees.
Our first stop was at Mirror Lake where he dropped us off at one end of the path, and allowed us 10 min for the 100m boardwalk following the stream with views of the mountain range in the background.
The next feature we passed on the bus was Hollyford Falls, which flowed directly beside the road where it narrowed into a one way bridge. As we drove across he slowed down so we had the chance to snap a quick photo but unfortunately there was no possible way of stopping for this attraction.
The Homer Tunnel, which is what made it possible to reach Milford Sound by vehicle was a fascinating underground adventure as you pass through the middle of the mountain. The dark tunnel allowing one lane of traffic through at a time. The thought of being in the centre of a mountain with thousands and thousands of pounds of rock surrounding you really puts things into perspective. The Homer tunnel spans 1207 meters in length, but by vehicle only takes minutes to drive.
Our last little stop for our bus adventure was in the Cleddau Valley on the other side of Homer Tunnel. As we exited the tunnel the road wound its way down to the valley floor with switchbacks the entire way. Our bus pulled in about halfway down the winding road, allowing us the chance to take advantage of the elevation near the top of the valley as a good vantage point for photos. The Cleddau Valley is one of the many fiords in the area, meaning that the valley had been carved out by glaciers.

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