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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

11 March 2011

Choose your fjord

11th March 2011

No doubt anticipating my critical review, it seems that Toni’s Restorante included some bad mussels in Maureen’s dinner yesterday as an act of vengeance. Both she and my dad, who tried one, got sick in the night. Do not give bad reviews to precognitive fake Italians!

Anyway, they were both feeling better by morning so our day trip to Milford Sound was not spoiled. We went on another cruise, which puts us in the position of being able to compare Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound for anyone thinking of coming to this part of New Zealand. Well, there is absolutely no doubt that Milford Sound is the more epic

sight. The mountains loom up above the water even more sheer and massive, and having had rain in the night we were treated to hundreds of waterfalls plunging like ribbons of milk over the rocks. However, Milford Sound has a good handful of boats ploughing along it whereas Doubtful felt almost our own. Doubtful is a much longer fjord as well, so the trip feels like more of a journey (though the cruises were the same length). Wildlife was about the same in each. Hmm… I’m rather sitting on the fence here. I guess I’d recommend Milford Sound, and driving yourself there and back, because it’s actually some of the stops on the way back that really made the day memorable.

Below the glacier at the top of the Homer Pass we found a pair of keas pottering around the car park, no doubt hopeful of tourist handouts. We didn’t have them to ourselves for long, as a tour bus of Japanese arrived and swarmed. One lady tried feeding the birds bits of paper, others clapped at them to get their attention, another tried herding them into a better position for photography. The absolute marvel was that the keas just put up with the pestering and watched with bemusement. I can’t think of an animal that wouldn’t have fled at all this intrusion. Don’t worry, the equally patient bus driver took the paper away from the kea before it was eaten.


 

Back down in the valley we took a short walk down a forest trail to Lake Gunn. I have never seen such a mossy forest, so utterly verdant and bewitched. It was full of birdsong too. Yes, yes, comparisons with Fangorn were inevitable. The whole of Fiordland suffers (enjoys?) huge amounts of rain, with Milford Sound getting nine metres every year. This is what allows such juicy temperate rainforests to occur here.

We ate tonight at the Fat Duck. No sign of bacon-and-egg ice cream or snail porridge, but it was a very good meal.


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