Lands Down Under (Day 11)

January 21

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

[We’ve crossed the Tasman Sea from Burnie, destination the SW corner of New Zealand’s South Island.]

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[After cruising the fiords, our next stop will be Dunedin on the East Coast, passing through Foveaux Strait between South Island and Stewart Island.]

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[But now, the natural highlight of the trip for me – Milford Sound.  We were advised before we got here that there would be a 95% chance of rain.  Wikipedia: Climate. With a mean annual rainfall of 6,412 mm (252 in) each year, a high level even for the West Coast, Milford Sound is known as the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. Rainfall can reach 250 mm (10 in) during a span of 24 hours.]

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[Wikipedia:  Within Fiordland National Park, Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve and the Wahipounamu World Heritage site has been judged the world’s top travel destination in an international survey (the 2008 Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards by TripAdvisor) and is acclaimed as New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination.  Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth wonder of the world.  It runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea at Dale Point (also named after a location close to Milford Haven in Wales) – the mouth of the fiord – and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) or more on either side. Among the peaks are The Elephant at 1,517 metres (4,977 ft), said to resemble an elephant’s head, and The Lion, 1,302 metres (4,272 ft), in the shape of a crouching lion.  Milford Sound sports two permanent waterfalls all year round, Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls.  After heavy rain however, many hundreds of temporary waterfalls can be seen running down the steep sided rock faces that line the fiord. They are fed by rain water drenched moss and will last a few days at most once the rain stops.  With a mean annual rainfall of 6,412 mm (252 in) each year, a high level even for the West Coast, Milford Sound is known as the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. Rainfall can reach 250 mm (10 in) during a span of 24 hours.  The rainfall creates dozens of temporary waterfalls (as well as a number of major, more permanent ones) cascading down the cliff faces, some reaching a thousand metres in length. Smaller falls from such heights may never reach the bottom of the sound, drifting away in the wind.]

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[At dawn’s early light we passed Dale Point and entered Milford Sound.  Hey, we’re in New Zealand!]

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[Well, it’s not raining . . . but it’s not sunny either.  “They” say it’s often better to come here when it’s raining (we’re under protection on the deck), because rain creates lots of waterfalls.]

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[From our location on the back porch.]

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[And now looking ahead.]

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[And behind us again . . . eerily cool!]

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[The Biddies are up and about.  It may be summer, but there’s a chill in the air.  After 100-degree temperatures in Australia, I thought this was great!]

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[Folks were lined up on every outdoor deck for the beautiful scenery.]

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[Clouds were below the level of the side cliffs.]

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[Our first waterfall sighting.  There are two permanent waterfalls in the Sound – this is the first, Sterling Falls.]

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[And from the “other” side.]

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[The Southern Alps pretty much run the length of South Island.  In the distance here is Mt. Cook (Aoraki), the highest peak at 12,200 feet.]

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[More low hanging clouds.]

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[Looking toward the east end of the Sound is Mt. Cook and at water level in the distance, Lady Bowen Falls, the other permanent waterfall.]

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[Coming up to Harrison’s Cove, another waterfall likely created by recent rain.]

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[There were some boats (ships?) anchored in Harrison’s Cove.]

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[‘Twas a quite breezy day as well.]

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[Close to the end – Mt. Cook with Tasman Glacier, the longest in New Zealand (about 18 miles and beginning over 9,000 feet above sea level; Lady Bowen Falls comes into better view; and Milford Terminal and Visitor Center.]

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[Same shot, less telephoto-ey.]

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[Closing in on Bowen Falls.  Somewhere around here we had some passengers disembark the ship and take a boat ashore to begin an inland trek.]

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[Low cloud bank ahead!]

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[We must have decided it was time for breakfast . . . or at least a hot cup of coffee.  Past the inside pool to the Lido where goodies are aplenty!]

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[We still had a view of the other photographers while we dined.]

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[There’s Milford Terminal – we’re at the end of the Sound.]

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[And Bowen Falls.]

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[Then the ship spun a 360 (or was it a 720?) so we could see all from every angle.]

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[Not quite a day for the pool.]

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[The Biddies and Shari with front row seats.]

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[Mt. Cook and Tasman Glacier.  Apparently we were very lucky as this is a sight seldom seen.]

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[The Super and Shari enjoy the views of Milford Terminal from the inside . . . ]

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[And the Super with Bowen Falls.]

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[Kayakers!  Unfortunately, they were the only wildlife we saw.]

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[Beginning our departure from the Sound.]

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[Let’s see if we can work the ship into a couple of shots.]

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[Good-bye Milford Sound, it was nice to meet you.  A good site mapping out the Sound:  http://milfordsoundselect.com/milford-sound/the-cruise-on-milford-sound]

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[Then we were out in open water again . . . ]

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[I’m really rather delighted about the lighting in this shot.]

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[We next boated into Doubtful Sound (or was it Breaksea Sound) and came out Dusky Sound.]

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[Entering either Doubtful or Breaksea.  I think it was the former, but looks more likely from the latter as a route out of Dusky?]

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[Yes, our Maasdam is 24 years old.  She only has one year of service left.  She served us well.]

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[The color and pageantry that is the international tourist.]

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[As you’ll recall from our trip through Milford Sound, I believe that is called a waterfall.]

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[I believe we are heading for Dusky . . . and out.]

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[‘Twas a lovely day in a most gorgeous part of the planet.  We then went around the southern tip of South Island passing by Stewart Island (the country’s 3rd largest island after South and North), but it was getting dark and it was a little to far away for any photos.  So next . . . ]

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[We decided to go to dinner.  I guess I ordered the fruit appetizer.]

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[“This is exactly why I want to live on a cruise ship,” says the Super!]

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[Yum!]

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[The Biddies got the shrimp cocktail appetizer . . . ]

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[So did Kathy.]

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[Beef Wellington night?  Or is that ‘just’ a filet mignon wearing a hat?]

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[Looks like a fruit cobbler.  I got them often for dessert.]

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[Surprisingly good single performers.  This was their last night on ship – both were leaving us in Dunedin – so they both performed.  Do you think I could remember their names?  Not a chance!]

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[We didn’t go to a lot of the theater performances after dinner.  They’re usually pretty good.  But some times we just went to the piano bars.  Other times, just to bed!]

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Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the fjords.  ~  Monty Python

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One Response to Lands Down Under (Day 11)

  1. Helen Etnier says:

    Mountains, water, waterfalls, low clouds, food and drink.

    I like your vacation! Beautiful memories, I’m sure!

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