But before we get there ... Monday, 11/28/16
Traveling the Milford Sound Heritage Roadway is a one-of-a-kind spectacular alpine journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound (in the heart of Fiordland Nat'l Park). The trip takes two-and-a-half hours, not counting stops. Ohmygoodness, the scenery!
In our area of Nevada County, California, we try to eradicate Scotch Broom, considering it an invasive pest. On the South Island, it adds a brilliant golden hue to the green landscape.
Our first stop was at Mirror Lakes (above and below), a small tarn (mountain lake) in the Eglinton Valley. A 10-minute walk provided us ample, and may I add picturesque, views of the Earl Mountains. A few Scaup were rifling the otherwise calm water. Check out the sign at water's edge (enlarge the photo above).
In our travels, Jimmy and I have passed these 45 degree signs in the Northern Hemisphere many times, but this is the first time we've ever crossed the halfway equatorial circle in the Southern 'sphere! Way cool! BTW, the road sign for the curve ahead isn't for 75 mph ... oh no, that curve would signal a slowdown to 75 km/ph.
A bit further along, at Knobs Flat, was a toilet stop.
We women, especially, never pass one of these by.
After reaching The Divide (lowest east-west pass in the Southern Alps), I'm not sure if this turbulent river is the Eglinton or a different one, but it's a doozy.
Our track takes us higher through the mountains.
As we approach the Homer Tunnel (945 metres/3100' above sea level), we're up in the snow, but the coach is warm. Homer Tunnel is unlined granite, hacked through sheer rock, and about 3/4 of a mile (1.2 km) long. Completed in 1953, traffic lights control traffic flows through the tunnel, as it's only wide enough for a single lane. Avalanches can pose problems here, too, but not today (whew!).
At the traffic signal, as we waited for our turn to go through the tunnel, what to my wondering eyes should I see? Two Keas sitting atop a small camper (of sorts)! Kea is a large species of an olive-green/ish parrot found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. What a nice surprise!
Once through the tunnel, we begin our twisty descent toward Milford Sound.
Simply stunning show!
And here's one more "but, first!" Another don't-miss place on the way to Milford Sound is The Chasm, which is like entering a whole new world. It's a twenty-minute forest loop walk.
In the parking lot, walking around?
A Kea, obviously unafraid and probably looking for a handout.
We have just traveled through snowy, Southern Alps, and now it seems like we've entered a Jurassic Park scene, full of terrific greens, with countless types of ferns! My eyeballs were popping.
We enjoyed some fairly dramatic views of a rock chasm, and waterfalls, formed by the gushing Cleddau River.
The tiny bleeding heart blossom from a very large New Zealand tree!
OK, back to the coach, after such a great little hike. Now we really are going to Milford Sound. We'll have a picnic lunch on our cruise boat. More tomorrow!