FIORDLAND Ad­ven­ture

Kayak­ing and cruis­ing Mil­ford Sound are just two of the ac­tiv­i­ties you'll find in Fiordland.

Go Travel New Zealand - - Fiordland -

Ar­riv­ing at the beau­ti­ful lake­side town of Te Anau, re­puted to be the true gate­way to Fiordland, I found my­self parked out­side the i-Site en­joy­ing a leg­endary Miles Bet­ter Pie con­sid­er­ing my op­tions for a visit to world fa­mous and iconic Mil­ford Sound.

I spot­ted the brightly lit and wel­com­ing Go Or­ange shop right next door to the i-Site. Wow! So pleased I found these guys. Mil­ford Sound, Doubt­ful Sound, cruise or kayak: They do it all and their prices leave you with funds in the kitty (for more pies!)

I walked in there expecting to sign up for a stan­dard cruise, but I walked out booked on an ad­ven­ture. A kayak and cruise combo is

the best way to see the fiord from two very dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, I’m as­sured.

It’s a two-hour drive to Mil­ford Sound with­out any photo-stops but as cliched as it sounds, it re­ally is about the jour­ney, not just the des­ti­na­tion here. As day­light broke, I was en­ter­ing the largest of the 14 Na­tional Parks in New Zealand, Fiordland Na­tional Park, clas­si­fied as a World Her­itage Site and quite sim­ply stun­ning.

Amaz­ingly, the ter­rain changes from pastoral farm­land to a cool tem­per­ate rain­for­est com­plete with moun­tain vis­tas, tem­po­rary wa­ter­falls and clear run­ning wa­ter­ways along the way. I was tempted

to stop ev­ery five min­utes for a photo but I had clearly been in­structed to meet the kayak guide and the rest of the party at Deep Water Basin in Mil­ford Sound by 8am sharp.

Deep Water Basin road and car park was easy to find and “gid­days” and “wel­comes” flowed. We spent the next half hour with our kayak guide, Lisa, as we equipped our­selves in warm wa­ter­proof gear, set up our dou­ble sea kayaks and par­tic­i­pated in a thor­ough safety brief. With a max­i­mum group of just eight plus a guide, I was matched up with an­other sin­gle pad­dling buddy. Since he was more ath­letic than me, he seemed happy to do the bulk of the work while I took pho­tos – bonus!

Be­fore we knew it, we were on the water, suc­cess­fully work­ing our rud­ders and syn­chro­nis­ing our pad­dling to work ef­fi­ciently as a team trav­el­ling up the Arthur River and to­wards the main body of the fiord.

I can’t get over how in­signif­i­cant I felt with these tow­er­ing moun­tains look­ing down on me. Lisa let us in on the se­cret: Mil­ford Sound, is not ac­tu­ally a sound, it’s a fiord. How a fiord and a sound are formed is quite dif­fer­ent and ap­par­ently New Zealan­ders con­sider it too much has­sle to change it now.

Raft­ing up, Lisa gave us both ver­sions of how the fiords were formed. The more sci­en­tific ex­pla­na­tion of a mas­sive glacier mov­ing through, carv­ing out the U shaped val­leys, then re­treat­ing and back filled by the sea; and the more po­etic Maori leg­end of a godly fig­ure who shaped the Fiordland coast with his adze (axe), start­ing from the south and work­ing his way up to Mil­ford Sound, his fi­nal mas­ter­piece.

Fol­low­ing Lisa, we crossed the fiord for a shore visit at the base of the thun­der­ing Bowen Falls be­fore we pad­dled our way back along the base of the mighty Mitre Peak and back to our start­ing point.

A quick change and we were trav­el­ling a short dis­tance in con­voy to the ter­mi­nal to catch our Go Or­ange boat cruise hav­ing worked up a suit­able ap­petite for the free fish ‘n’ chips served

on board that was all part of this amaz­ing combo. On board, you can ex­change cash for an ex­cel­lent cap­puc­cino, and boy was it great to warm my hands up on after my heroic pad­dling ef­forts.

I won­dered whether I would need a cruise fol­low­ing my kayak, but I’m so pleased I did. What we saw in the two hours of pad­dling was fan­tas­tic, but it was just a pim­ple on the chin of Mil­ford, so to speak. There’s so much more to see.

Go Or­ange seem to have hit the mark for the in­de­pen­dent trav­eller. They leave half an hour be­fore all the buses and tours ar­rive, leav­ing the fiord pretty much to them­selves for a bit. The cruise is also longer than some, so when we came across some bot­tlenose dol­phins skip­per Aaron had time to slow the boat down and hang out with them while other boats had to carry on past.

In the two hours, we trav­elled out to the en­trance of the fiord turn­ing around at the Tas­man Sea. Look­ing back into the Fiord it was easy to see why Cap­tain Cook sailed past not know­ing that the nar­row en­try did in fact open up into a large in­te­rior bay.

Aaron also al­lowed us up onto the bridge deck to have a chat and if you don’t want to get wet, this is prob­a­bly the best spot to be when he noses the bow un­der an­other wa­ter­fall. I, how­ever, chose to stand my ground on the bow deck as Aaron says the re­ju­ve­nat­ing spray is sup­posed to take 10 years off!

My drive back to Te Anau and all the photo-stops along the way is a whole new story in it­self. My ad­vice? Al­low lots of time be­fore and after your cruise for photo stops, stay overnight in Te Anau and def­i­nitely Go Or­ange!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.