Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kiwi Quest 2010 - Hiking Day 2

Photos: 1) The paddlers let out of jail to kayak around Milford Sound, 2) The rainforest area in the backwaters, 3) A New Zealand fur seal giving himself a bath (juvenile males come to this area for a couple of years), 4) Lady Bowen Falls, 5) Valleys all around us, 6) Gorgeous views everywhere!

Well, for those who think I'm just lollygagging down here while you're working, feel glad knowing we started our second day of our hiking trip at 0545. Yep, that's about 15 minutes later than I usually get up to go to work back home. My headlamp sure came in handy as I stumbled to the bathroom, still mostly asleep and too tired to even shower. A quick breakfast and group clean-up later, then we were headed in the van to Milford Sound for some kayaking.

Fiordland National Park is absolutely stunning and I don't use that word lightly. In fact, I'm running out of adjectives for how pretty it is down here. Technically speaking, Milford Sound is actually a fjord, not a sound. If I had more internet time for free, I'd include some links to explain the differences, but for now, you'll have to put your google skills to work. Essentially, one is a V-shape while the other is U-shaped. The persons who named this area are responsible for the misnomers and misspellings which are now world famous.

Anyway, we drove through views of low clouds, green mountains, and more gorgeous clear rivers. Through a tunnel whose name I forget (the location where they have a Naked Tunnel Run - no joke), then a great vista of a valley with blue sky and sun (yay!). Down a steep winding road that my mother would not have really enjoyed to the kayaking spot.

The water in Milford Sound is plentiful to say the least. They get a ridiculous amount of rain, and since the cliffs/mountains are grantite, all the rain goes straight into the salt water of the fjord below. This creates a layer of fresh water on top of the salt water which is quite interesting for marine life. As we paddled around, we drank in steep, plunging cliffs and a view of Mitre Peak (1722m high). Indescribable. We also encountered 7 male juvenile New Zealand fur seals, two of which we got very close to in our boats. They were just sleeping and resting on some rocks mostly, although two came out to us in the fjord and were playing around our boats for a few minutes. We also encountered another section of rainforest in the backwaters where Sean accidently fed Kirsten some tree for lunch when he steered their boat awry. Jane & I were kayaking for Team Canada back to the boat launch ramp, but we settled for silver against the stronger Scottish team.

A stop in Te Anau for more groceries and ice cream (and for me to drop my pop on the ground where it hissed all over my pants), then it was time to head on a long and winding road to Lake Monowai where we repacked our bags for an early departure (sensing a theme yet?) and divvied up food and equipment in preparation for our overnight hike the next day. Yay, shower time!!


Anonymous said...

I would love to comment, i am following the links and googling to my hearts content

London Speaking said...

well don't know what is better, getting up before 5 to hike for the day or go to work....ahh no contest. I would hike too.

Remember us here in London with the snow and freezing rain today. Agnes

sue robson said...

missy alexis, you should be doing one of those tv"around the world" travel shows!
Only just got to read a little bit tonight of your travel diaries and I cannot stop smiling, your endless humour and antedotes are just the pics too, especially the one of you looking somewhat confused and dazed, as for the landscapes-I had no idea NZ was so spectacular.Jimmy has always gone on about going there and how incredible it would be, now I believe him. Thing is though, I don't know if i could do quite so much hiking stuff to get there. I might end up looking like one of those sea lions after a pretty short space of time.
Look forward to reading rest of your travel diaries tommorow. Thanks for the post card good
to know there some good folks frae back hame there!
See you soon...Sue R.