Thursday, July 19, 2007
Milford Sound, Southland, New Zealand

The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel toos, but the gentle touches of air and water working at thier leisure with a liberal allowance of time” – Henery David Thoreau

So welcome back campers.  Todays installment will be somewhat quick.  I goofed and uploaded my pictures for this one to the previous blog entry so You’ll have to check that one out.. Maybe I’ll add a few to this one later today.

Yesterday was AMAZING!  You just can’t translate the majesty of the vistas around every corner into words or pictures.  It is truly amazing scenery here and it is different around every corner.

I drove down to Milford Sound to do some Sea Kayaking.  Getting to the Sound was a fantastic experience where I just slowly wandered viewing 200 meter waterfalls, frozen meadows, mirror lakes and ice waterfalls.

Then I actually got to the lodge to find that milford sound is actualy a small one strip airport, one bar/resturant and the YHA lodge/hostel.  The whole place runs on a diesel generator so the power goes out (including heat) at 11pm every night.  On the upside, they had a piano there and I was able to play for about 45 mintues with the books of music they had lying around.  Next time I travel I’ll have to remember to print off some songs so that I can have more at hand when I run across a piano.

Waking up to 32 degree weather was a bit rough to think about getting into the water.  My bunkmates that night told me that I snored that night but then you can’t really trust a Belgian anyway.

After getting to the sound and seeing the plywood shack that one of the guides lives in, we started to change into our thermal clothes and waterproof gear so taht we wouldn’t freeze on the water.  There are a couple very sexy pictures of me in my thermals for the day of pre and post kayaking.  Nobody ever said adventure was a fashion show!  The kayaks were tandem so I was sharing with the 15yr old son of a geologist from Albany, NY.  He was a bit gung ho to paddle hard so we were always way out in front but nothing like some of my other adventure racing kayaking experiences.. Brian.. paddling for fun is actually pretty cool, we should try it some day!!

The sights were amazing, mountains rising 2000 meters straight out of the water and I mean STRAIGHT!  Then all of a sudden our guide Fi (short for Finoa) says.. “were in for a treat today”.. and looking off in the distance ahead you can see puffs of water along the waters horizon.  Paddling in that direction we get to have an encounter with a pod of about 20 dolphins.  They jumped and swam for us and even chased my kayak and “surfed my wake” once.  While we were rafted up eating our lunch they returned and frolicked for us some more.  What an AMAZING experience.  On the water, snow capped peaks in the backdrop and dolphines swimming all around and jumping.. simply stunning!  Also saw a nice sea lion sunning and scratching himself on the rocks.
I had a great dinner in the evening back up in Queenstown at a resturant called the Dux Lux. FANTASTIC tuna meal with mashed potatoes and veggies.  Then it was out on the town one last night with my English and Irish friends.  The only pisser on the evening was standing outside my dorm room with a key that works “sometimes” in the door.  When its 30 degrees (F) outside and you’ve maybe had a bevie or one too many, it is not a happy thing to be fighting with the door for 20 minutes in the middle of the night.

This morning I got up at 8am and did a nice 3000 foot climb up to Bob’s peak.  What an amazing view over all of Queenstown.  I opted to take the cable car ride back down as I was knackered from the climb and I didn’t see the sense in walking down the same path I just came up.  No challenge in that 🙂

Well, I have to head to the airport to fly up to Auckland.  I’ll only be there for a night since most of the northern parts of the north island got REALY bad flooding I’m just going to connect through Auckland.  Tonight is the big Australia vs New Zealand rugby game so I’m sure the bars will be full up there.

Todays fact is actually going to be a quiz.. everyon on the no-google honor system here!

QUIZ:  What is the difference between a Sound and a Fjord.
Answer Tomorow – free beer when I get home to the first correct answer.