It’s a wonderfully warm and sunny morning at Athol Lodge. The rooster would have had us up way earlier but we resist and get up around 7am. After all, we’ve got a long drive ahead of us to Milford Sound. The happy chicken stop by our breakfast table, breadcrumbs seem to have caught their attention.
It’s a beautiful journey with various stops along the way such as a bird sanctuary in Te Anau and a Mirror Lake in the valley. It gets narrower and narrower, lush vegetation and awe-inspiring rock walls soar up left and right the road and as we get closer to Milford Sound, melting glacier water is gushing down.
The final stretch leads us through a one-lane tunnel, hand-cut into the rock by men back in the 1930s. New Zealand’s famous mountain parrot, the kea, pays a visit while we’re waiting for our turn through the tunnel … though doesn’t allow us to take a snapshot 🙂
It’s 4pm and skies still blue, sun high up in the sky and sweeping views up to glaciers and out across the fjord towards the sea.
Fur seals are sunbathing on the warm rocks, the numerous waterfalls create gorgeous rainbows. What a wonderful day in a region that’s mostly mystic with fog, seeing rainfalls of 7metres per year!
We camp at the DOC’s Creek Falls campsite and learn about an interesting hike up Gertrude Saddle.
The weather still looks promising the next day and so we decide to summit! What’s most astonishing to me, is the high alpine feel up here although we’re only at an altitude of less than 700m above sea level. We leave trees and shrubs moving up into the rocks, only area for some boulder scrambling and even cross a snowfield. It’s an awesomely diverse hike, that sees us jump over rivers and with jaw-dropping views out the other side!
What an adventure!