Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fiordland National Park

April 4th
Fiordland National Park

We are up early eating breakfast at seven so we can head out for Milford Sound at eight.

The high mountains in the park remind me of Alaska or our own highway 395. Some of the light snow dusting some peaks looks like powdered sugar sifted there in the rain yesterday.

Every once in a while we see some road kill at the edge of the road. No tears here because when you see fur that is one less predator. Mostly ferrets and possums bite the pavement. Though we saw one stoat running across the road. Too quick for us.

At Mirror Lake the sign says there are bats and birds here and that they are working on predator control. But there can never be a fence around the park.

Next stop is Milford Sound as there is quite a bit of traffic for low season. Our boat takes off at 11:10. We are up on top for the best views. The seats are wet, but I brought my Skagway rain poncho and spread that out and then sit on my padded vest for warmth. I don't need to wear it since I have on my new omni-heat jacket.

We head out down the left side of the fiord to see the waterfalls and the young male fur seals.
William got a great picture of a waterfall rainbow.

One waterfall comes right down a fault line.

At the end of the fiord the Tasman Sea is rough so we rock as we turn around to go back down the right side. Cute little lighthouse.

Interesting that this is the only fiord that has access to the end by road.

Sightseeing planes and helicopters buzz in and out.

Mitre Peak, the highest peak here, is out of the clouds as we return.

A large permanent waterfall near the dock is the source of drinking water and power for the businesses here.

Off the boat we take a walk to the edge of the water on the Forebay Track to find a spot to eat our lunch. Nice. Under a huge red beech.

We do more walks on the return. To The Chasm.

Through the Homer Tunnel again. This is a spooky unlit one lane rough cut tunnel in the rock. 1.2 kilometers downhill going to the sound, uphill back. It leaks water and the roadbed is rough.

On the trail to Lake Marian we walk across a very swingy swing bridge. I don't like to walk across with William as it looks like he makes it swing more.

We take a lovely nature trail at Cascade Creek. It is labeled on the handout as at Lake Gunn. It is at the lower end of the lake, but there is a rough camping area labeled Lake Gunn that we went to in error first.
Red Beech

Lake Gunn

Flax with flower

Palm Leaf Fern

I see so much pampas grass spread from gardens. On the California Pacific Coast they make a big deal out of it and spend time grubbing it out. Here they have furrier problems.

Different countries have different ideas of how to staff National Parks. Inside this huge National Park I saw not one ranger. We got our paper handout “Road to Milford” from our host at the B&B who also booked our boat ride. At Milford there are just private concessionaires. Food, lodging, services, airport, boat and helicopter rides. Maybe someone sets up the plan and lays out the trails and then lets concessionaires run things. They also depend on private conservation organizations for help with predator control. Where are the rangers?
Volunteer to catch a rat and save a bird

We get a pizza to take back to our cottage. We order a large thinking that there will be leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Bah! I think all pizzas outside the USA are one size. You order a pizza for one, you get one about 12 inches. Too much for this one. You order a large and get a 12 inch. Just enough for two.

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