Thursday, December 11, 2008

Milford Sound and Gloworms

A kea goes after the windshield wiper while we wait at a fifteen minute tunnel stoplight.

I'm not really in a writing mood, but I'm about to leave New Zealand so I'm just going to get these out the door quickly. Lots of pictures. Not much yapping. They will probably be better that way.

Bowen Falls and the Milford Wharf.

Having an immediate ride to the Milford almost paid off. I just missed an earlier cruise by five minutes. Such is life. At least, I didn't need to pay any bus fare. Since I also had a free coupon from the owner of the company (who I meant on the Banks Peninsula Track) to take a cruise, it was a very cheap afternoon.

Milford Sound.

Milford Sound is misnamed. It is actually a series of fjords because the valleys were created by glacial erosion and then flooded. It is 16km long and made up of 14 different fjords. It gets 6.5 meters of rain annually which means there are a ton of clouds in the area. That is why it is so hard to see the area on a sunny day. It started to drizzle when my tour started, but stopped as we got farther down the sound. It started again when we got back to the wharf. It never stopped being cloudy.

The fjords of Milford Sound.

Stirling Falls.

More fjords along Milford Sound.

Our tour consisted of going up one side of the sound and coming back down the other over a two hour period. Near the end of the fjord was the aptly named Seal Rock. There are usually seals there because they simply can't haul themselves out of the water anywhere else due to the steep walls.

New Zealand Fur Seals on Seal Rock.

As we came back down the other side, we were much closer to the Sterling Falls. Then our skipper, slowed the boat down and pulled in really close to the falls. We were getting drenched. After about five seconds, I ran inside to hide. I was nice and dry and wanted to stay that way.

Stirling Falls.

Our ship getting drenched by the Stirling Falls.

After the tour, I grabbed a ride back to Te Anau on a bus to meet Brian. If I would have been a little slower to buy that bus ticket, I could have gotten a ride from the Polish guy that I met on top of the Bridal Path in the Port Hills (near Christchurch) and then again when I got off the bus in Queenstown. I knew he was going to Queenstown, but had no idea that I'd see him again there, let alone three days later in Milford. Small world. The drive back wasn't as sunny as last time I made the trip, but the lupine were blooming along the roadside which was wonderful.

Lupine growing in the valleys on the drive home.

A highly trusted source said that I needed to 'go find glowworms. a little touristy, but so darn cool.' On the basis of this recommendation, I decided to tack on a second tour to day. I basically got off the bus in Te Anau and fifteen minutes later, I was on a boat crossing over to the glowworm caves. It is a good thing, I didn't need to do much because my body was getting ready to quit.

The only picture I took on the glowworm tour.

After the boat ride, you get a short intro about how the glowworms work. They are larvae that feed for nine months before mating for twelve days and dying. They attract prey by glowing. They snare prey by putting out vertical 'spiderwebs.' They'll even eat another glowworm if it tries to come into their territory.

A Glowworm and its 'spiderwebs.'

They don't allow any pictures to be taken of the glowworms. Since you are in a boat and the glowworms don't give off much light, I suspect it would be pretty difficult anyway. We also weren't supposed to make any sound because sound and light supposedly effect how the glowworms glow. We weren't sure if we bought that. Anyway, after the intro, we walked through a cave to where a second boat would take us into the grotto where a lot of the glowworms lived. The second boat ride reminded me of the ET ride in Florida for some reason. You start in the dark and then suddenly you get a little light. You get just a little magic. Then, it goes so dark it doesn't matter if your eyes are open or closed and finally, you enter the cave that looks like the picture below. I'm not sure if the glowworms caves are 'so darn cool,' but they are definitely neat, and I'm glad I did it.

What the cave pretty much looked like.

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