Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Zealand 2016 Day 13. The Milford Track

The weather has turned. Before we went to bed last night we saw ominous clouds gathering, and during the night we heard the sound of rain and howling wind. What will the day look like?

    It rained and it rained and rained and rained
   The average was well maintained
   And when the tracks were simply bogs
   It started raining cats and dogs.

   After a drought of half an hour
   We had a most refreshing shower
   And then most curious thing of all
   A gentle rain began to fall.

   Next day was also fairly dry
   Save for a deluge from the sky,
   Which wetted the party to the skin,
   And after that the rain set in.

            A Fiordlands Tramper, 1984

Yes, it was very wet, but nonetheless we headed north toward Milford Sound hoping against hope that the weather would turn. The 120 km Milford Track/drive was, for the first 70 km, like driving through the foothills of California; pretty, yes, but not overly spectacular. Ah, but then the road started climbing up a glacial valley and we were absolutely speechless. Now, I admire Yosemite Valley like any other good Californian, but it pales in comparison with the valleys of the New Zealand Alps. Out of the mist arose vertical walls without end, and from each water gushed in a myriad of waterfalls that hurled vertically unto the valley floor, almost making a continuous curtain of water on both sides of the valley. Eventually we reached the cirque, and crossed from the Pacific watershed into the Indian Ocean watershed through a long tunnel, only to find the same deluge issuing from the walls of the Milford valley/fjord. I have never seen so much cascading water in my life!

Dizzy with the spectacle we reached the head of Milford Sound, but shied at taking a cruise down the sound on account of the weather. Instead we had lunch at the Visitors’ Center, played cards for about an hour, and took a nap in our trusty camper van. There was no sign that the rain would abate anytime soon, so we turned around and went through the spectacle of the innumerable waterfalls until we reached the foothills. Here the rain was not as intense, so we found a nice campground and prepared to hole for the night. It turns out that the rain stopped shortly after we arrived, the sky cleared, and we actually had a bit of sun in the late afternoon, which made preparing dinner a lot easier.  

No comments: