01 Mar 2016

Over The Mtn's & Thru The Woods - NZL valeriepeltier さん作

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With an early pack up, we packed our big bags, placed them in the storage room, and grabbed our day packs and headed to the main lobby to wait for the shuttle service down to the ferry terminal. We had double checked with the girl working the front desk for where was best to wait. As time went by it got closer to 8:15 and eventually passed. Since the shuttle was supposed to be at 8:15 I was curious if it was running late, so I went up to the desk to ask and found out she had completely forgotten that we were waiting and that the guy driving the shuttle had already left.
In the end they made a separate run to the ferry terminal since it was technically their mistake and we were still a few minutes early for our cruise.
The air was still quite cool from the drop in temperature overnight, so we were both bundled up in our sweaters and raincoats to keep warm in the wind. The view of the fiord as we cruised along was best seen from outside on the deck, so we braved the cold and found spots where the sun broke through the mountains as the boat made its way along.
The entire way one of the guides continuously wandered around with a microphone explaining information about the fiord, how and when it was created and the interesting marine life in the area.
About half of the way along the fiord the captain pulled the boat up close enough to the rock wall so that those standing outside on the deck at the front of the boat could reach out and touch the rock. I was on the upper deck so I still managed to get really close, and managed to take some photos of the surrounding waterfalls flowing down the side of the rock wall.
When we rounded into another bay, our guide directed our attention to a protruding rock lower than the rest in which there were several fur seals sprawled out enjoying their mid morning nap. For the most part they laid there not bothered by our presence, but there were a couple that moved around, sat up and one that decided he wanted to go for a swim.
Stirling Falls, our next point of interest, is one of the larger sets of falls in NZ, and we had the opportunity to go straight up to it, and even stand out on the deck if you so choose while the captain let the front of the boat drift up and under the waterfall. Since it was still quite cold, Lauren and I decided we would stand inside for this one, since it was really windy and we would prefer not to get sick. The view was stunning regardless, and we instead enjoyed it from behind the glass as people just 2 ft away on the outside proceeded to get soaked.
The tour lasted approximately 2.5 hours giving us the opportunity to explore the fiord from Milford Sound, out to the open ocean and back.
Just before arriving back to the terminal, those who had paid extra for the discovery center were dropped off in the bay around the corner. The majority of the people on board at this point disembarked leaving only about 10 passengers, including us.
The remainder of the boat ride was fantastic since now we practically had the boat to ourselves.

For the remainder of our afternoon, we wandered over to the deep water basin on the opposite side of the airport checking out the last of Milford Sound with the time we had left before hopping back onto our bus to head back to Te Anau for our second time around.