Wednesday, January 28, 2009


JANUARY 28, 2009 - 20/112 - CAPE HOWE

Wow, what a good night’s sleep! It is so quite! We wake up to a cool misty morning and are in no rush. Carolyn fixes breakfast and we plan our day. But first we take time to watch a pair of Little Eagles messing in some bushy trees not far from our porch.

Today we go over to Denmark and explore the little village. It is the home of many crafts-people and several bakeries. Carolyn picks the one that seems to have the most business and buys some pastries. Then we drive the Scotsdale Road, a very scenic road up in the hills west of Denmark. There are many little galleries and wineries along this road. Carolyn is looking for a white wine. Based on the look of the entrance, we stop at Harewood Estate winery and taste their Gewurztraminer. It is very good so we buy a bottle and then head to the Cheese Factory for a cheese tasting. What wonderful cheeses and how cool to be able to sample them all! We buy some Golden Hill Cheddar for tonight’s potatoes, Willson’s Fetta with garlic, onion and chives for the salad and some Scotsdale with chives and garlic to enjoy with the wine. They also have fudge that is to die for so we get some of that too!

It is now time for our picnic lunch so we head to the Green Pools. This is a really nice swimming hole on the beach. It is formed by rocky out croppings that act like a reef and form a series of pools between the ocean and the sandy beach. It is a little cool for us to swim but it is a nice place to enjoy our lunch.
We head back to the cottage, relax and enjoy a nice steak dinner and some of the treats we bought today. In fact we are going to have to go back to the Cheese Factory as we ate all the Scotsdale!

It is going to be hard to leave....



The Indian Pacific arrives in Perth on time at 9:10. We take a taxi to down town $13.20AU, pick up our rental car and are heading out of town by 10:30. Perth is a new, pretty, modern city from what we see. The Swan River runs though the city and there are parks along the river giving it a very open feel.
We get a bit turned around for a while, but arrive at the quaint little village of York about noon and have lunch at the city park beside the Avon River. We then work our way down to Albany. The countryside is mostly rolling hills, covered with wheat fields and some sheep. The road is deserted as are the little towns. As we get near the coast we begin to see wineries so we stop at one, Plantagent, and buy a magnum of Omrah, a nice shiraz. In Albany we stop at a food market and pick up enough for a light breakfast and lunch for tomorrow and head west along the Lower Denmark Road to our lodging for the next four nights.

We are staying at Cape Howe Cottages. We arrive about 6:00 and are shown our cottage, The Wardroom. It is delightful...Carolyn may never leave! The Cottage is a new two bedroom affair with, almost, wrap around glass, big front and back porches situated on a rise which allows for a view of the Southern Ocean about 1km away and the national forest which starts across the road. We fix some drinks, sit out on the front porch and enjoy the sight and sounds of the ocean. Magnificent!
After a simple dinner of spaghetti and salad we turn in.



We wake to the PA system at 07:00 announcing breakfast for the first seating. Both of us slept better the second night as the track was smoother and, I guess, we were accustomed to the new accommodations. When we opened the blinds, we were passing through a country of low rolling hills, sandy, red soil and small trees and bushes. Very soon, however, we are told to watch out for the abrupt change to the Nullabor Plain where virtually no trees grow and what vegetation you see is a grey/green salt brush, eaten only by desperate sheep and camels. Speaking of wildlife, today we have seen, a dingo, camels, two broad-tailed eagles and various other bird life.
After breakfast, we reached the train service town of Cook. Cook used to have a population of 300 when the trains were steam powered. Now, with diesel/electric engines, the town as shrunk to a permanent population of: "1 cat, 1 dog, 20 Chooks, whatever they are, 5 people, 30 dingoes and three million flies." Our engine was refueled from underground storage tanks and, I think, we took on water for use in the sanitary system also. We wandered around for thirty minutes or so and took some photographs, looking for the perfect picture to give a sense of place in this desolate place that is, literally, a thousand kilometers in either direction from any real civilization.
Leaving Cook, we continued on our way, heading for Kalgoorlie. We stopped and/or slowed several times to allow other trains to pass, pickup a mail sack or a passenger. Yes, someone was waiting for the train at Forrest. Forrest has an airfield built for use as a refueling point for transcontinental flights before planes had today’s range. It is now maintained as an emergency airfield for both commercial and civil air traffic.
In our air-conditioned compartment, it is 70 degrees and you can feel some heat through the double pane window. If you step into the vestibule at the car’s end and put your hand on the single pane window there, you can really feel the outside heat. This is desolate, dangerous country where you could die if your vehicle broke down and you were not prepared for such an emergency.
Once again the landscape is beginning to change. We have left the plain and are in an area of trees and brush again. It is still a lonely place, but not as forbidding. Actually has a unique beauty to it.

We arrive in Kalgoorlie as the sun is setting. It is so hot and dry outside, it literally takes your breath away. We don’t see how people can work outside here. The train provides a bus tour of the town. It has a surprisingly pretty main street with all the Victorian store fronts. Gold mining built this town in the late 1800's and has kept it going ever since. The high light of the tour is a stop at the Super Pit. At some point in the past all the individual holdings were bought up and now the old mines are being worked as a pit to get the last of the veins of gold. It is an incredible sight! It is a huge deep pit and one can see the old mine tunnels at various points down the sides of the pit. They are using huge trucks and scoop-like tractors to haul the rock containing gold to the surface. The mine operates 24/7 year round and the workers work 12 hour shifts 4 days on and 4 days off.

After the mine we drive past a local pub and get mooned by the "ladies and gents" enjoying a brew! Then, onto the infamous Hay Street where ladies of the night are selling their wares. There are still three working houses that, believe it or not give tours, during the day!
We get back to the train about 9:30 and call it a night.

Tomorrow we reach Perth and head to the South West coast.



After sleeping relatively well on the rough track across the beginnings of the outback, we are up early for a stop at Broken Hill. It is an old , but still functioning silver mining town. A tour bus meets us at the station and gives us a short tour passed some nice Victorian era buildings. It takes us up to a silver mine and then to an art gallery. The gallery has a large mural, "the Big Picture", plus arts and crafts by local people and silver jewelry made from the silver brought out of the mine. Carolyn can’t resist a few small charms.
Back on the train we have breakfast as we work our way across some very barren, arid countryside. This is sheep country and in the distance every once in a while we can see a lone station house. About lunch time we turn more southward toward Adelaide. Here the land becomes rolling hills with fields and fields of wheat. They have harvested a bumper crop and the silos are full so they are piling the grain on the ground within concrete retaining walls and then covering it with tarps.
We pull into the Adelaide station around 3:00. Everyone must get off the train as they are servicing the cars, adding new cars and reordering the train layout. We catch a cab into Victoria Square in central Adelaide for $10AU. We walk around the Square and take some pictures of the nice Victorian architecture. The streets are wide and the city has a clean, modern look to it. It is Sunday so things are quiet except for Rudell Mall’s shopping crowds and people in the city for the Down Under Tour bicycle race. We continue our quest for a replacement power converter to no avail.
We catch a cab back to the station and arrive at 5:00. The train has moved and we must wait in the station for its return and permission to board. Fortunately, the station is comfortable, modern and air conditioned. It is a dry hot outside with the temperature well into the 90s.

By 6:15, we have reboarded and at 6:40 we continue on our trip to Perth. The sun sets on our side of the train and about 8:00, we turn out the light and watch the beautiful red orange glow on the horizon as night comes. Dinner is late due to the departure time and our second seating dinner time. The food has continued to be good and nicely presented. Once dinner is over, about 10:15, we head for the compartment, showers and a good night’s sleep.



After a nice late breakfast at the hotel, we walk to a nice jewelry store to look at opals. They have a very pretty 10.9 carat bolder opal. It was neat in that the opalescent colors formed the look of a peacock with his tail feathers spread. If it is still there when we return in a month Carolyn might just have to buy it. Dick buys a kangaroo lapel pin with an opal in its belly. It will be Dick’s answer to formal night attire on the ship! There just was no room for a tux on this trip!

Since we need to check out by 2:00 we head back to the hotel, gather our stuff and turn it over to the Bell Captain while we get a bit of lunch. At about 1:45 we head to the train station and check in. We wait about 10 minutes on the platform before we can board. It is stifling HOT! Once on the train we get settled in our compartment and cool off. During the day it is a couch with a nice window to watch the country go by. At night the steward makes the compartment up into two bunks. There is a compact but functional full bath.

The departure from Sydney is very slow due to work on the rails but once out of town we head up into the Blue Mountains. This is a very pretty ride. The mountains have the blue haze like the Blue ridge mountains in VA and NC, but don’t seem as rugged. We really enjoy it till the sun goes down. We are second seating for dinner and eat about 8:30. A couple from rom Queensland are our table mates. They will get off tomorrow and catch The Ghan to Darwin. Dinner is a three-course affair with two choices for each course. Dick has fish and Carolyn has steak. The food is well presented and good.

When we get back to the compartment, we find it all made up for bed.

Friday, January 23, 2009


JANUARY 23, 2009 - (15/117) - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Our suite at the Marriott Sydney Harbor is very nice and quiet and one of us slept in! A very nice buffet breakfast is included in the deal. When we finished that Dick went to the local FedX office to ship a malfunctioning flash drive off for data recovery and Carolyn worked on this blog. Thankfully Dick was able to get Quicken restored with the help of their online chat service. It did cause some tense moments in Christchurch , however. The fact that we can get uninterrupted internet service here at the Marriott helped. In New Zealand we had to buy time by the two hour block. So, of course, every time the time ran out Dick had to start all over with the recovery process!

At 11:45 we board a Captain Cook Cruises, harbor cruise boat at the Circular Quay Ferry Terminal to explore the harbor.For $70AU or $45.50US, we bought tickets that allow us to hop on - hop off all day. The cruise takes you, quite quickly, to seven stops around greater Sydney Harbor and is a great way to get a feel for and to see this natural wonder. The stops were for Fort Denison, where we were in time for the daily firing of the gun at 13:00, Taronga Zoo, with its cable car to the top of the hill, Shark Island, a small National Park in the middle of the Harbor, Watsons Bay, a pretty little village, Luna Park, an amusement park and Darling Harbor, a pretty, modern part of greater Sydney and home to the Sydney Aquarium. We will go back to Darling Harbor and explore when we return to Sydney.. We ride the full circuit and take pictures like crazy. It is interesting to see the tiny figures of people climbing the Sydney Harbor bridge. Dick may do that when we come back next month.
The temperature is in the 90s and quite humid. It is just like Houston in the summer. After completing our circuit of the harbor, we stop for an ice cream and head back to the hotel for some good old A/C. Around 17:00 we walk over the Circular Quay and buy tickets on the ferry to Manly. After the 30 minute trip we walk up "The Curso" to the beach and watch the swimmers swimming in the area clearly marked for "No Swimming - Strong Currents". These Aussies are a tough bunch! We have dinner at the "Rump and Ribs," an open air, upstairs restaurant. The meal is quite good and the caesar salad is one of the best ever. We each have a seafood basket that included beer batter fried fish, shrimp and calamari.

We returned to the ferry landing and just miss the boat so we cool our heels watching the sun set at the terminal for 35 minutes until the next one arrived. The water is so clear we are treated to a show of fish swimming around the pilings! By the time we are heading back to Sydney, the sun has set and the clouds are pink in the west from the rays of the setting sun. A nice ending to our first day in Australia!
We have arranged to keep our room until 13:00 tomorrow and we can board the India - Pacific train at 14:00. On to Perth!



Our visit was 10 nights and 10 ½ days. we spent two nights in Wellington, two nights in Nelson, one at Fox Glacier, one in Dunedin, and two in Christchurch. We drove 3,300Km or 2,115 miles in a Ford Focus stopping for gas twice in Nelson, once on the West Coast, Te Anau, Queenstown, Gore, Dunedin and finally in Christchurch. We were getting about 30 miles to the gallon.

Our accommodations ranged from a nice hotel - Wellington, Holiday Inn; upscale B&B - Fox Glacier, Misty Peaks; and Budget New Zealand chain, Bella Vista Motel - Nelson and Dunedin in king studio and Christchurch in a two bedroom apt. All the places were nice and we would stay there again.

We had breakfast at the accommodations every day. We ate our main meal either at lunch or dinner depending on what was happening, trying various venues: winery restaurant, alehouse, seafood and steak house, Italian Restaurant, local cafes and take out sandwiches, pizza and KFC for picnics! The food was good to very good. We also really enjoyed the local produce and cheeses.

I read lots of things about not trying to cover too much in one day, but we really wanted to do a sampling. We are in our sixties with bad knees that keep us from doing long walks on uneven ground, plus we enjoy driving and site seeing from the car. So with that in mind, we took the ferry from the North Island to the South Island; beautiful trip. On three days we drove between 500 and 600Km each day. It was doable with stops for the over looks and the shorter walks of 30mins, or less, round trip, gas and food. These days started around 9 and ended around 6. We would also do this again if it meant getting from one great area to the next and saving a one night stand somewhere of lesser interest. However if long walks are your thing, you will need to slow down...there are many longer walks that looked like they would be really nice.

What can I say, we loved New Zealand! The Wellington area and the South Island scenery and wines are world class! If I were planning this trip again, we would spend our time in three areas, staying in a cottage or nice B&B centrally located in each area: the greater Nelson/Picton area for the wines, crafts and scenery, greater Queenstown area for the wines, food and scenery and the Catlins (Dunedin area) for the scenery. We would stay at least three days or maybe longer in each area and do the long one day drives to get from place to place.

I must say though, that there were several places that we would not make the effort to go back too. First the West Coast, the sand flies are awful and we found the Southern Scenic Route much more interesting with the plus of not being bitten to death when we got out to see something. More importantly none of the cafes and places to stay seem to have A/C and they don’t have screens on the windows either! In fact we slept under a net our night there in Fox Glacier. The second place is Milford Sound. I know most everyone thinks this is a wonderful place. It is very pretty and worth protecting, but just not worth the effort, time and fighting with the sand flies to get there... IF... you have seen the Norway fjords or have been to Alaska or if you are planning to go to either place. Now if you are into trekking and camping that is a different deal and you are looking for a different type of experience then we are. But if you are like us, there are so many other great places on the South Island to visit.


The Spectacular!

Ocean views along the south coast of the North Island and the north and south coast of the South Island, the lakes, rivers and mountain passes.

The Interesting.

One lane, two way traffic on bridges and some roads with or without a train track down the middle! Poo Wars; farmers underselling each other’s bags of cow or horse sh...!

The Good.

Good well maintained two lane roads with well placed passing lanes. Very well maintained gravel roads. Speed limits set at least as high if not higher than we could comfortably drive. Well equipped kitchens in the studios/apartments.

The Complaints!

Very early check-outs...10am. Poorly marked/located directional signs on roads. Need more overlooks along the spectacular rivers, lakes, gorges and mountain passes. I took many, many pictures out the front window!

Thursday, January 22, 2009



This is a day of travel so not much to report. Our flight is at 3:45 so we are in no rush in the morning. We find, on the third try, a NZ postoffice where we can buy some packaging materials and mail some small stuff home. Once that is done, we drive out to the port of Lyttleton, around Governors Bay and over The Summit which gives us a fine view of Christchurch. We then have lunch in a park and head for the airport.
We are flying Air New Zealand for the third time and are once again impressed with their service. We have about an hour and a half before flight time so we go to the Business Lounge which has to be the nicest we have seen. There is a big spread of fresh food items, very nice comfortable seating, and even showers if needed. Dick messes with the iPhone and I send time on the computer getting some details for later in the trip worked out.

The flight leaves on time. It is a blue bird day so we are treated to a spectacular view of New Zealand from coast to coast including a great view of Mt Cook and the lakes we had driven by two days ago and the West Coast where we were seven days ago.

They serve a nice steak dinner on the plane and we arrive in Sydney, a little early, about 5:30; 7:30 New Zealand time. We take a taxi to the Marriott Sydney Harbor. Checking in we find we have been upgraded to a suite with a view of the Harbor! After getting settled in, we go for a walk around the Rocks area and check out some of the ferry routes for tomorrow’s exploring. After getting an ice cream cone we head back to the room and call it a day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


JANUARY 21, 2009 - (13/119) - CHRISTCHURCH

Last night was a night of recovery from our long drives of the last few days. That is good because again this morning Dick is having a computer malfunction and he spends till about noon working to get it going more or less!

After a mid-morning breakfast in our rooms, we head to a home supplies store to replace a piece of luggage that is giving us trouble. Once that is done, we head downtown to the city center. We first spot at the Art Center with is in a Gothic building that was a College for 100 years. It now houses the Arts Center. There are craft people doing exhibitions, art exhibits and a nice store in different buildings set among various courtyards.

Then we head for the Cathedral Square. The place is crowded with a noon-time crowd as there is a crafts market going on and buskers are putting on their acts in hopes of payments from the observers. We purchase a combined ticket for a punt ride on the Avon River which flows through town and a pass on the tram that circles the center of the city.

The punt ride is pleasant with new varieties of ducks in the stream, the water flowing clean and clear over the rocks in the shallow stream and a friendly young man at the pole in the stern. The tram gives us a view of many of the main sites in the downtown area. We particularly notice the beautiful flowers planted in designs in public beds in the many small park areas and again the very well maintained Victorian buildings.
We get off the tram at the Station stop near the Cathedral Square and walk back to Regent Street, a neat street of Spanish styled architecture built in the early 1900's as the first mall street in Christchurch. It is now home to cafes and Galleries. Again we pick up lunch and tomorrow’s breakfast from a café with a nice take out selection. We head back to the apartment for lunch and to get things organized for the next leg of our journey.

The computer is continuing to defeat Dick. We get some pizza and call it a night.

Tomorrow on to Sydney, Australia!



After sleeping in, we pack up and head north along the coast road, Hwy 1 about 10:00. Our first stop is at the Moeraki Boulders, These are natural formations of concreted stone, almost perfectly round, in the surf and on the shore at Moeraki. We walk along the beach for 400 meters or so to take a look. There are many Maori legends about the boulders, but science tells us they were formed on the sea floor some sixty million years ago. Some of them have cracked and lay broken in the surf. One could probably convince a child that they are hatched dinosaur eggs.
We stop at Oamaru, a nice village with a wide central boulevard and flower baskets hanging from the store awnings. We have found this layout very typical of the smaller towns. Oamaru is interesting because it is an old harbor town with a number of nice Victorian buildings and warehouses that are still in use. We walk around a little and find a popular local café that has a good selection of take out. Armed with a picnic lunch and breakfast quiche for tomorrow, we head on up the road.

At Pukeuri we turn inland on Hwy 83. This takes us up into the mountains toward "The Lakes" and it is a beautiful drive. Not far up the road are the first of three dams producing electric power for the country. We stop at two. I don’t think I have ever been close enough to the generators that I could actually hear them hum before!. The lakes are that incredible light blue green. There are many camp sites along the lakes and for the first time we see people enjoying the area. From the looks of the sites the campers are set up for a number of days. School doesn’t start again here till Feb 2nd. Lake Pukaki, with Mt. Cook in the background, is quite a scene. This is the area of New Zealand where the last battle scene of "Lord of the Rings" was filmed. It is high valleys with flowers on the road’s edge and snow capped mountains all around. Our last stop in this gorgeous area is a little stone church on a point of land on Lake Tekapo, Church of the Good Shepard. There is large window behind the altar with a view of some of God’s best handy work, a beautiful blue lake surrounded by snow capped mountains!
We finally arrive in Christchurch around 7:00 after another 560km day. We are both glad this is the last one of those days! They have been great but long drives.

Once again, we are at a Bella Vista Motel but this time we have a two story two bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, living room, etc. It is very nice and a welcome opportunity to spread out a little. We go to Specht’s Ale House, a neighborhood pub, for dinner. The food is good and my pint of ale was first rate. The food is somewhat difficult to order off of a menu since so many of the dishes have a name with which we are familiar but the ingredients can be a little different to even a little strange. Nothing wrong with that except your taste buds get a surprise every now and then.
We are both pooped and head for bed.


We leave Queenstown just before 9:00 and stop by Arrowtown to see its Chinatown, where the Chinese miners lived during the gold mining days. We drive through the stunning Kawarau Gorge past the relics of serval gold mines on the way to Cromwell on Hwy 6. As we come out of the Gorge we see the beautiful Lake Dunstan. When it was formed it flooded the original Cromwell and the old highway. The lake water is so incredibly blue and clear, we can see the old river bridge at the bottom of the lake! This is a prime fruit growing area. We replenish our cherry supply and buy some chocolate covered honey comb and dried apricots. The chocolate is different but tastes good and is crunchy.

Crossing the head of the lake on the new bridge we head down Hwy 6 following the river to Alexandra. Leaving Alexandra, we enter another gorge like area following Lake Roxbough and the Clutha River. This area has almost an other worldly look to it, large boulder filled, steeply sloping fields and craggy gorges that feed the lake. As we come to the river the land becomes high rolling hills, that look, for all the world, like a green patch work quilt, covered with sheep of course!

We leave the Clutha River at Raes Junction and continue working our way south to Gore where we have lunch at a local café. Dick has steak and kidney pie and we both have a milk shake, which is just a large glass of milk with a scoop of ice cream and vanilla added, interesting. If they are not growing fruit, they are raising sheep or forage. There are millions of sheep!

After Gore, and getting a bit lost on the back roads, we head for the southern coast. The winds are blowing a gale coming off of the sea and we begin to appreciate the large wind breaks that have been planted all over this area. The trees are some sort of fir and they are planted very close together and grow 50-60 feet high. They make a very dense screen and the screens run for hundreds of yards in a row. Most houses are surrounded by them and the fields are crisis-crossed by them.

At Fort Rose we pick up the Southern Scenic route which actually starts in Te Anau, follows the edge of the Fjordlands National Park down to the ocean, then follows the coast all the way to Dunedin. The road is a mixture of well maintained paved road with a few sections of good gravel road. Our first stop is Slope Point, the southern most tip of the South Island.The Great Southern Ocean is kicking up. It is a beautiful blue with large breakers coming to the shore. Then we are on to Curio Cove where we walk out on a petrified forest from the Jurassic Period. You can see the tree trunks quite clearly. As interesting as the trees were, the waves crashing ashore, coupled with the blue of the water was worth several hundred photos. Maybe we got a good one!
This part of the South Island is called The Catlins. It has a rugged isolated feel to it. Even though we are right on the coast, it is very hilly and a mix of sheep stations and forested land. We see few cars again which is good since part of the road is gravel. We make a stop at Nugget Point with its light house.Our last stop is at Kaka Point. This is a pretty seaside area that would be worth a stay, if you could get a cottage as there are very few services.At this point, we leave the coast and drive up to Dunedin (DUN EDEN). We check into our Bella Vista Motel with another 561km under our belt. The owner sends us to a nice Italian place, Etrusco, in downtown. After a great dinner of wine, wonderful garlic bread and spaghetti, we walk around and enjoy the Victorian feel of Dunedin. It is a pretty city.


JANUARY 18, 2009 - (10/122) - MILFORD SOUND

Milford Sound is a World Heritage site in southwestern New Zealand in the Fjordlands National Park. It is a 598km (371 miles) round trip from Queenstown. We have been told to allow twelve hours and it takes exactly that amount of time.

We are up by 6:00, daylight comes early this far south, and on the road by 7:00. It is Sunday and there is no traffic on the road. We follow Collins Bay for about 30km out of Queenstown.
It is a cold morning and the sun is very pretty as it came up over the mountains to our east. The landscape is very much like New Mexico and portions of Colorado. Bare, high hills with cultivated valley bottoms and some irrigation. The clouds are below some of the mountain tops and, in one place, on the road as fog. In the first 180km we only saw 35 cars and trucks going with us and heading toward us. Where are all the people?
We arrive in Te Anau around 9:00 and start the 120km drive to the head of Milford Sound. The road is well maintained and two lanes with some passing lanes. Lake Te Anau, which we follow out of town, is huge and the same beautiful blue we have seen all along our trip. The land also begins to change too, from the Colorado look to the Jurassic Park look we mentioned a few days ago. Huge ferns line the road and the trees are moss covered. As we begin the climb up through the mountain valleys following a rushing stream, the land changes again to lush, high meadows full of alpine flowers and lots of camping spots, no services provided!About 20km from the head of the sound, we have to wait for the signal at the one-lane tunnel on the road. It is on a 15 minute signal cycle; cars or no cars! The tunnel is very rough and steeply sloped downhill for its 1.2km length. At the exit, you come out onto a steep downhill, switchback road that is slow going but not all that bad. At 10:45 we pull into the Milford Sound parking area.We purchase tickets for the 11:45 "Red Boat". The famous Mitre Peak is visible as we are boarding, but disappears into the clouds by the time we get out into the sound. Our ticket includes lunch, the three hour tour, "Threee Hour Tour", that will take us to the Tasman Sea plus a visit to the submerged research station, the Underwater Observatory. On the tour, it is explained that Milford is really a fjord not a sound. The early sailors made a mistake in calling Milford a sound. We see Southern fur seals, a nest of baby Black Back gulls with a very upset mother and two groups of playful dophins. The research station is interesting. Basically it is a tube 30 meters down into the water with a circular room at the bottom of 60 stairs. There are windows all the way around that look out onto the underwater life of the sound. We saw six armed star fish, black coral, anemones and various fish.
Now, don’t get us wrong, Milford Sound is very pretty and impressive and worth seeing. But, if you have been to Alaska or Norway, it simply is not worth the effort and time to get to this Fjord. We have seen much more impressive roads and fjords in Alaska and Norway. If you have not been to those places, then, by all means, go to Milford Sound. If you have been or plan to go, do something else with your time and money. The Queentown area is loaded with other great things to do and see!

We were back at the dock at 2:45 after a pleasant outing and on the road by 3:00. The four hour drive back was something of a beating and we were very glad to back in Queenstown at 7:00.