Milford Sound / Piopiotahi

One of the more spectacular places in New Zealand, indeed the world, Milford Sound / Piopiotahi lives up to its reputation. I’ve been there four times now, all in sunshine despite it being one of the wettest places in the world. This is slightly annoying as the waterfalls in the rain are incredible, but I got a taster when walking the Milford Track.

Oddly the most iconic view of Milford Sound, in particular the distinctive Mitre Peak, is found at an unmarked corner of the car park. A sign of the times is that on my previous visits it was free to park. It’s now $25 for four hours, which is sensible given the cost of running public facilities there, ensuring that the user pays.

These photos are from my most recent visit in January 2022. I took a two hour cruise with RealNZ, on a considerably flashier boat than on my previous trips, a sign of the booming times pre-Covid.

Milford Sound is a 2.5 hour drive from Te Anau and 5 hours from Queenstown, so most of the boat trips run in the middle of the day, the worst time for photography but hopefully these give an idea of the scale of the place.

The sides are steeper than Doubtful Sound, with less vegetation and more slips.

Although a dry, sunny day, there were still a number of waterfalls tumbling down the sides of the sound.

Lady Bowen Falls is one of the largest permanent waterfalls.

As usual the boat went under one of them, demonstrating how sheer and deep the sides are.

Other boats provide a sense of scale against rock faces that stretch over 1,200m high.

There were a number of young New Zealand fur seals sheltering on a rock.

For much of the cruise, and part of the drive back to Te Anau there was a strange halo effect around the sun, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Presumably it was due to the thin cloud layer.

This red-billed gull hoovered over the boat looking for chips to steal…

To finish with a few photos from the drive (I was a passenger) along the Milford Road, which is spectacular in its own right.

Author: jontycrane

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