Monday, November 18
People frequently asked me before I left, what is the number one thing you are most excited about doing in New Zealand? Aside from blatantly saying “everything,” I was secretly very excited about traveling to Milford. And today was the day! I booked an excursion with Trips & Tramps (and for all you Americans reading along, the term “tramp” actually refers to hiking, so I have refrained from titling this blog “Tramping in the Bush” because I knew you would have too much of a field day with that one) and took off down the Milford Road. I think that was probably my favorite part of the day. The sights were incredible. I could probably spend an entire day just playing around on the side of the road it was so wondrous. And just as exciting was the fact that I ran into one of my softball teammates, Sam, a fellow Paco’s Taco, at the mirror lakes! Small world, right?! It was a very unexpected and pleasant surprise that were booked on the same cruise for the afternoon.
The term fiord means “a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley,” so to say Milford Sound would be technically incorrect. Someone apparently misnamed it a “sound” many years ago and it just kind of stuck. We cruised around on the glacier water and out to the Tasman Sea with the majestic mountains towering over us. We saw whales, a few yellow eyed penguins and a bunch of seals sunbathing on a rock near one of the many waterfalls streaming from the cliffs above. The morning clouds had cleared, the sun was shining bright and the water was a beautiful shade of turquoise. It was a horrible Monday indeed. After our cruise, we went on the Key Summit hike directly off the Milford Road. Our trail coincided with the Routeburn Trek, so I can honestly say that I have now hiked two of the Great Walks. Not too bad for two day’s work. On the way to the top, I even got to fill up my canteen with natural waterfall agua. That made me real happy. Once we reached the summit, we were literally among the surrounding mountain tops. I always wonder when I’m hiking uphill if the view is ever going to be worth it, and in New Zealand, it always is.
PS: I would like to add that when I was writing this in Te Anau, it was 9pm and I was tired. I felt guilty going to bed though because the sun was still out would not set for another 45 minutes.