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Milford Sound

"Watch out for sandflies!"

Before I came to New Zealand I asked a number of friends who had already been here, "What can't I miss?" Most of them straight away told me to get to Milford Sound. To the Maori it's Piopiotahi, a place to gather greenstone to be carved and traded; to the tourism industry it's the most-visited attraction in New Zealand at half a million a year, and of course a serious money maker; and to the sandflies it's a massive feeding ground until all the tourists go home for the day. But for me it's the most beautiful place I've ever dried my socks on a log.

I left Queenstown expecting it would be an easy hitch to Milford Sound, what with all the tourists going that way anyway, but there was already a couple in the spot I scouted out the day before. Keeping in line with proper hitchhiking etiquette I walked down the road a bit so they would get the first shot at a ride, they were there first after all. I was banking on being picked up by a car with only enough space for one, and sure enough, in less than an hour that's exactly what happened. It was a brother and sister from Malaysia who pulled over for me, and there were a couple great things about this ride. First of all, they were great people - nice, talkative, full of good stories. Second, they wanted to stop at every scenic lookout (and what a scenic drive it was!) and short hike along the way, just like I would have done if I were driving myself. And lastly, they were going all the way to the sound - a straight shot!

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Greetings from the Southern Alps in beautiful Fiordland National Park!

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Cleddau Valley, Fiordland National Park.

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Mt. Tutoku, highest peak in Fiordland National Park at 2746m.

It's hard to describe Milford Sound, the mountains rising right out of the water, glowworms hanging around after dark, the relative remoteness and the road out there... The grandeur and beauty of the place is overwhelming and I ended up camping for three days to take it all in. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

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Milford Sound at last!

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Milford Sound, in color! Mitre Peak on the left at 1692m.

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Bowen Falls spill into the sound.

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Others have been here before...

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Sheer walls rise right out of the water.

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Proof I was actually there. It was cold...

Posted by axcordion 19:08 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mount park new valley national zealand sound milford alps southern hitchhiking fiordland tutoku cleddau

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