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Day 18 & 19- Queenstown & Milford Sound

The thrills of the luge to the natural wonders of Milford Sound!


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A morning spent wondering around Queenstown, one of the busiest places we’ve been to, even then it’s nothing compared to London. Finding ourselves deep in a souvenirs shop (we can’t stay away) we bought some more postcards to add to our collection.

After lunchtime we jumped on the gondola from town up the mountain. We were excited for the luge so got our helmets on and headed up the ski lift to even further up the top of the mountain. It was a very strange sensation that this felt like a festive activity and it was five days to Christmas except it felt nothing like Christmas (which we hate!!!).

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Everyone had to go down the baby track first to get the hang of it. It’s pretty simple push forward to go, pull back to stop. Considering there were some children as young as 7 doing this alone, it was pretty fast! At the end of the track we got the ski lift back up (we had 5 turns on the track). The next track was a steeper, longer, harder track, we had a race and I won (see video). On the way back to the top of the track after the second turn I said it was amazing how easy it would be to break an arm, almost as if we tempted fate, we crashed on the next turn. I took a corner too fast (possibly too competitive wanting to beat Andy), I put my left hand out to stop myself from tipping over, scraping the palm of my hand on the gravel. Andy, having seen I was having a mare, went as far right as he could to get past me without getting caught up however, In taking my left hand of the handle bars meant my right hand pulled the cart to the right. Andy’s left arm got stuck on my handle bars and almost dislocating he managed to keep going. He’s got a nice big black bruise for a souvenir (also see video).

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It was so much fun! We were enjoying Queenstown. Kirsty and Elliot got in to town early evening and we headed out to meet them. Obviously a catch up was due and how better to do that than over beer and wine!

Although as the crow flies Milfound Sound and Queenstown are very close indeed due to a number of pesky mountains that someone has put in the way it actually is around a 5 hour drive to circumnavigate them! Due to this it was an early start the next day for both us and Kirsty and Elliot. They had very kindly offered to drive us there to save us the extra time and money on the coach. They really are amazing and although we have only really met them a few times we feel super comfortable with them, which is kind of fortunate considering we are crashing their Christmas celebrations!

As I’ve highlighted numerous of times every drive in this place treats you to some truly breathtaking views and the drive to Milford was yet another example! As we got closer to our start point you slowly become encased by gigantic mountains on all sides. It made you feel so tiny and insignificant in comparison. We were so in awe, well Izzy had her eyes closed for larges parts of the journey to fight back the travel sickness induced by the winding roads. Then we reached a set of traffic lights outside of this colossal mountain and it dawned on us that the road ran directly through this beast via a tunnel that seemed the size of a pinprick. This was the only way in and out of this area. After the exciting yet anxious drive through a shoddy looking tunnel we were out the other side.

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As our ship sailed through the sound we were given a number of interesting facts about this fascinating landscape and the geographical process that had forged it. One of those facts informed us that Milford Sound had actually been misnamed as in fact it is not a sound at all and instead it is a fjord, with it being formed by a glacier and not a river. The route took around 2 hours and we split our time between the blustery top desk with 360 views, the slightly more sheltered back of the boat and the inside section where a cup of tea and some warmth was needed.

One of the most exciting and impressive sections of the tour was when the boat literally drove us into Stirling Falls; a natural permanent waterfall formed by a melting glacier. This waterfall is actually over 3 times the height of Niagara Falls standing at 151metres. This is difficult to believe as the height of the massive mountains either side (at 1,300metres) dwarf the waterfall. Iz and I opted to stand on the front of the boat for this section and got completely soaked... however Maori legend does states that anyone sprayed in the face by Stirling Falls will look 10 years younger in the morning. We however are still waiting for this to take shape. We were also informed that despite the glacier melting for over 14,000 years, there is only around 50 years remaining. This just seems crazy that some future generations may never get the opportunity to see this beauty and got us thinking about how many other nature marvels may also go the same way and how many that we, as humans, are responsible for their demise.

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You’d think by this point, and considering Milford was literally covered in temporary ones due to the rainfall, we would have had enough of waterfalls. However, it just seems to wet our appetite more. Due to this we took a pit stop at The Chasm before our long trip back. We felt guilty at not being able to help in the driving and being chauffeured around by Elliot and Kirsty. When finally back in Queenstown we quenched our hunger by ordering a huge mixed grill... which tasted as good as it looked (apologies for any of our Vegetarian or Vegan readers :) ).

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Also see a picture of a cheeky Kea that came to visit us:
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Posted by Bears on Tour 21:04 Archived in New Zealand

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