14 March, 2015
The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is about two hours. I left around 7:30, just as it was getting light, and resisted the temptation to make stops along the way since I was booked on a mid-morning cruise. I saw my first Kea today and I did not do stop in the middle of the road, on a curve, get out of the car, and take a picture of it, as did the driver in front of me. Overall, I’m driving more than anticipated, but the scenery is nice and traffic light, so I don’t mind.
I’m glad I got there early; it gave me a chance to take photos while the water was still enough for reflections and the crowds had not yet arrived. I took a 2.5 hour nature cruise, rather than the regular two hour cruise. The extra half hour allowed us to travel closer to shore where we could more clearly see the rainforest clinging to the cliffs and waterfalls from recent rain. Though it was a beautiful sunny day, it was cold when we were in the shadow of the cliffs. I was colder than I had been tramping, glad I had a thin pair of thermals to put on under my pants, and regretted not bringing my puffy jacket. The complementary mochas were most welcome.
I considered eating a picnic lunch near the shore, but even with my insect repellent shirt, the sand flies were annoying. Instead I headed back up the mountain, stopping at a handful of scenic spots along the way. Unfortunately, I didn’t slow down quickly enough when I reentered Te Anau, resulting in the second speeding ticket of my lifetime. Aarg!
It was almost 6:00 when I reached the hostel. NZ’s Daylight Savings Time throws me off; in the evening it always feels earlier than what the clock tells me. I stayed in and had hummus with carrots and crackers for dinner (yum).