Fiordland National Park

Michele kicks off her mammoth trip on 9th January 2012. Read her roving reports from the High Seas to her journey Down Under. Keeping you up-to-date with all the news as it happens.
Post Reply
User avatar
Michele Monro
Posts: 1097
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Fiordland National Park

Post by Michele Monro » Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:37 am

Fiordland stands apart as a region of distinct character, made up mainly of hard crystalline rocks, which are as old as any in New Zealand. It’s the largest National Park in New Zealand and one of the largest in the world. The Park stretches from Martin’s Bay in the north to Waitutu Forest in the south, and from the mighty eastern lakes of Te Anau, Manapouri, Manowai and Hauroko to the fourteen spectacular Fiords of the West Coast.

Beginning 500 million years ago, intense heat and pressure deep in the earth’s crust formed gneiss, schist and granite rocks. They have been thrust upwards by folding of the crust, fragmented by faulting and at times mixed with molten volcanic rock. Periods of submersion under the seabed have created areas of sandstone, mudstone and limestone such as those at Te Anau-au Caves on the eastern side of Fiordland. Over the last two million years glaciers have at times covered the area, gouging, deepening and rounding u-shaped valleys, many of which are now lakes or fiords.

In the early morning Sea Princess boarded the local pilot and at 7.15am we entered Milford Sound. Famed writer Rudyard Kipling once dubbed this fjord ‘The eighth wonder of the world’ and it’s easy to see why: rainforests have grown atop the cliffs that line the Sound, waterfalls shower down and create ethereal mists, and diverse wildlife make their homes here, from Fiordland Crusted Penguins to pilot whales and dolphins. It took just over two hours to cruise along the Milford Sound and make our turn at Bridget Point and come back out into the Tasmin Sea and there’s no better place to see the snow-capped peaks, lush greenery and crystal clear waters of this breathtaking National Park than by sea. We had the perfect viewing platform. Considering rain falls in this area more than 200 days each year we were extremely lucky to have clear bright skies although it was bitingly cold. The high was supposed to be 52 degrees but the wind factor made it feel much colder. Fiordland’s weather is dominated by frequent westerly airflows making it extremely changeable and often dramatic. Moisture-laden air, forced to rise over the barrier of mountains, cools quickly creating heavy rain and snow so under the circumstances we couldn’t complain.

Back in open waters we were treated to an ice carving demonstration by artisan Luisito, who performed miracles with blocks of ice on the Riviera Deck. It didn’t take him long to present us with a beautiful eagle. Luisito comes from the Philippines and has been ice carving for five years as well as doing all the fruit and vegetable carving for Sea Princess. He’s been on the ship for a long time and has just signed his seventh contract being the only staff member able to create these masterpieces.

At 12.30pm we made the Thompson Sound entrance and once more were treated to the most majestic coastal scenery, this time the journey took ninety minutes and at 3,30pm we made our final visit into the area finishing with Dusty Sound. It was another journey lasting about an hour and a half but I have to say it was the most beautiful. It takes something special to make me stand outside shivering under my fur coat for most of the day but I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

The other thing I’m glad I didn’t miss out on was my massage special. I have to admit to it being the best massage I’ve ever had in my life and I’ll definitely be making a return visit. The girl’s name was Sunshine and she comes from Manila. She certainly spread a little sunshine on my day. Outstanding.

With the cold weather set to continue I cancelled my tour in Akaroa. I’d booked a harbour swim with the dolphins but wet suit or not, nothing could entice me into the water in this weather. As a whole the ship’s tours don’t thrill me so I’m going to see what’s available locally and play it by ear.

Post Reply

Return to “The Long & Winding Road”