So now we have arrived in Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of the World. But to get this far we spent a long day rolling.
|The very flat Knob's Flat.|
Departing from Te Anau we headed due north bound for Piopiotahi (also known as Milford Sound).
An early start secured us a fairly empty road even though today was Waitangi Day, a national holiday.
|Our very first encounter with the Kea, New Zealand's alpine parrot.|
The Kea has a wonderful Latin name: Nestor notabilis. Keas are known for their intelligence and curiosity.
After 166 kms mostly winding road (some hairpins too) we finally arrived at the Milford Sound village which is a modern logitics terminal with multitudes of tour ships, private yachts, helicopters, airplanes, busses, RVs, car – and many hundreds of tourists at any time of the day. The number of tourists is expected to exceed 1 million in 2019; that would be a doubling in just six years.
The sun appeared over the eastern ridgeline high above Milford and we boarded a hyper-modern catamaran cruise vessel for a two hours sightseeing roundtrip on the 15 km long fjord, that is also the most visited part of Fiordland National Park.
Considering the fact that Milford has an average of 200 rainy days, we were blessed with exceedingly fine weather: Clear sky, no wind – and 24°C.
The Milford Sound adventure is all about presenting the outstanding and pristine fjordland nature to the many visitors.
|The 1690 m high Mitre Peak is Milford Sound's most iconic mountain.|
|Waterfalls feeding directly into the sea are easily accessible.|
|The top of a 150 m high waterfall.|
Nature as its grandest. Note the ship to the right of the waterfall.
Milford receives about 7 meters of rainfall annually and the dense and diverse rainforest clings to the almost vertical mountain sides up until tree line at c. 1000 meters' altitude.
Ferns in many forms and sizes are characteristic elements in the temperate rainforest.
The big trees in the forest are richly "decorated" with lichens, mosses and lots of other epiphytic plants.
Full of impressions from Fiordland National Park we left the spectacular landscapes, retraced our tracks back to Te Anau and drove towards Queenstown.
. . .
Tomorrow we'll have the whole day to explore this strange town fit for a queen – and where nothing is too daring, too fear provoking or too challenging to be tried out by the world's adrenaline addicts converging to this hub in the midst of the Southern Alps.