December 27

written by bryan on January 2nd, 2009 @ 04:46 AM

Bethany from Milford Sound Lodge

Today is generally a day of rest. While I was able to tolerate doing the Routeburn with my injury, I’m sure it hasn’t helped with the healing process. But I am happy that we proceeded with the trek. Now, however, I’m “on strike” for the day which has left Bryan trying to make a few more arrangements for later in the week.

This evening we are boarding an overnight cruise of the Milford Sound, which is considered one of the natural wonders of the world. Doubtful sound was also highly suggested for a cruise and is less touristy as it can only be reached by first crossing a lake.

Later in the day …

We boarded the Mariner this evening to begin our fjord tour. We cruised out to the Tasman Sea past towering, almost vertical rock faces. Amazing! There were a few pretty impressive waterfalls as well.

To give you a numerical feeling for the shear size of the fjord, here are some numbers from my memory. Some of the mountains surrouding the fjord have a vertical of almost 1.6 km above the water – or one mile. The depth of the water is over 200 m deep and boats are able to come very close the to rock walls. Average annual rainfall in this area is over 7 m which makes it one of the wettest places on earth. Surprisingly, winter can be the sunniest season and is when most of the “postcard perfect” pictures are taken. Unbelievably the highest rainfall amount in one day was almost 4 m! Given the huge volume of fresh water that cascades into the fjord after large rainfalls, there is often a layer of fresh water, up to 10 m thick, overlying the salt water. This gives the water a darker and greener colour. Milford Sound is a fjord with some pretty big credentials.

Back to our cruise now. Our ship anchored just shy of the Tasman Sea and we were given the opportunity of going kayaking off the boat or going out in one of the tenders. Bryan and I both wanted to kayak but we were slow to line-up and missed the first round of kayaks. I decided the wait was too long and went for a spin in the tender with the nature guide. We were out for a while and actually got back to the ship before Bryan got into a kayak. However, he had gone in for a quick swim. Bryan did eventually get a kayak. I watched a few people awkwardly get in and out of the kayak and rethought my desire to go out as I was likely to trigger my back discomfort. Instead I went swimming when Bryan ventured closer to the boat and Bryan decided that it looked more fun than his kayaking and joined me. As I had jumped into the water I was struck more by the saltiness of the water than the coldness. There were a number of other people who joined us the quickly left because of the cold – we were told the water was 15 degrees Celcius which seems to me warmer than Lake Diefenbaker generally gets.

We did eventually get out of the water, showered and headed to a buffet dinner. Bryan opted to go to bed afterwards while I went to a little presentation regarding the sound. One thing I did learn was that my sighting (and photographing) a fiordland penguin the day before was rare as most of the penguins had already returned to more isolated areas.

Bryan has gone to bed and now I blog.

P.S. Bryan mentioned in a previous blog that the Homer Tunnel opened in 1991. It actually opened in 1953/54 after construction first started in 1935. The tunnel is quite long and has an rough-finished appearance. It wasn’t until just recently that the tunnel was lit and only one direction of traffic is let through at a time.

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